From kebab koobideh to saffron-infused sherbets, Koenji is home to one of the few Persian restaurants found in Tokyo.

"BolBol: Persian and Indian Restaurant" has been in Koenji since 2004, named after BolBol himself. Before BolBol came to Tokyo, he lived in Iran where he majored in culinary, learning how to cook the Persian cuisines he makes today. He came to Tokyo with the goal of finding a Persian restaurant to work with, but unfortunately, could not find any. He worked for Italian restaurants and other cuisines available in Tokyo, which seemed to be enough at first, but after years of saving money, he founded BolBol.

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Entering BolBol,  I was first greeted by the immense amount of decorations. BolBol said that he had brought the majority of the decorations from Iran himself. He showed that some paintings that were actually made of carpet; completely and intricately hand-woven.

The restaurant played Iranian music softly to contribute to the cultural experience along BolBol's two pet lovebirds that tweeted from the stage of the restaurant. During the weekends, bellydancers come to perform for the guests on the stage. Not only were the decorations on the wall and music added to the ambiance of the restaurant, but also the plating of the food and choice of silver ware were unique to the Persian experience. 

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To start off, my friend and I ordered chai tea. No, not chai tea lattes from Starbucks which come from artificial flavoring, but the actual tea. It was served beautifully on a silver tray with a gold and red themed tea ware that held the tea and sugar cubes.

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Shortly after, a soup appetizer came with a side of barley, which can be poured on the soup. However, don't go overboard with the barley; it can make the soup very sour. There was nothing special about the soup, but when the main entree arrived, I saw its importance as a palette cleanser in preparation for the main entree.  

We came to the restaurant during lunchtime (11:00 to 15:00), so we ordered the lunch sets that came with our own choice of salad, naan, or rice. We ordered a Beef Koobideh with rice and a Chicken Jujeh with naan (both forms of Persian Kebab).

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BolBol advised us to smash and mix the grilled tomatoes on the rice, put the rice and meat on the naan, then wrap and eat. I had never eaten Persian food this way before, but BolBol really knew what he was talking about. The method helped me appreciate all aspects of the food ordered; once I started, I couldn't stop wrapping my Koobideh's and Jujeh's in naan.

Between the Beef Koobideh and Chicken Jujeh, the Beef Koobideh was a clear winner. It had a tender and juicy texture; easy to cut and chew. Also, the spices incorporated into the beef was a perfect balance between salty and sweet. The combination of the beef with the tomato rice created a delicious meal.

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The Chicken Jujeh was good as well, but lacked the unique factor that allowed it to be memorable. BolBol used chicken breast, which is tricky because it can become tough very quickly, and sadly, it was; especially around the burnt edges of the chicken. At first bite, the chicken was delicious and flavorful, but I felt that the spices were not fully absorbed by the chicken compared to the beef. Plus, the serving was not as big as the beef Koobideh. 

After devouring our meal, we decided we had to try Persian dessert, which I did not regret at all because this had to be the highlight of BolBol: Saffron and Rose-infused Vanilla Sherbet topped with pistachios.

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Served beautifully in a glass with gold decorations and matching gold teaspoons, I was entranced immediately. The Sherbet is handmade by BolBol and his staff every day, incorporated with  saffron, rose, and vanilla. The choice of ingredients was a beautiful combination with the lightness of the rose, aroma of the saffron, and flavor of the vanilla. The flavors had harmony and fragrance in every bite.

Overall Opinion

I would highly recommend BolBol because the mix of kind service, intriguing decorations, and great Persian food will make a one of a kind experience. BolBol serves so much more than their Beef Koobideh and Chicken Jujeh; they also have Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Stew) and Indian curry, which I would like to try in the near future.

Altogether, the meal was 3000 JPY for two people. (26.5 USD).