Moby Dick House of Kabob
1070 31st St. N.W.
Just accept that you are going to feel stupid. You have no chance. Like a foreigner in McDonalds, you will have to use the picture menu to order your meal. That is, if you aren’t from the Middle East. The menu is in Persian, so unless you are fluent, look at the pictures of the kabob.
The name might scare you a bit, but Moby Dick House of Kabob will change the way you think about fast food. That’s right, kids, put the shish and the kabob together and you get Moby Dick, the best take out in D.C.
You start with a choice of four different meats – Kabob-E Kubideh, Kabob-E Chenjeh, Kabob-E Barreh or Kabob-E Joojeh. For the rest of us, that means ground sirloin, tenderloin, lamb or chicken. Skip the ground sirloin; it looks too much like a burned foot-long hotdog. The real deal is the delicious cubes of meat that make up the other varieties. All three kinds of meat are marinated in house seasoning and grilled to perfection so they are crisp on the outside and perfectly tender in the middle. The beef tenderloin cubes are OK, but the chicken is the most tender and flavorful. If you don’t want poultry, pick the lamb, as it is just as delicious.
If you want a sandwich, simply say your choice of meat (and yes, you can order in English) and say you want a sandwich. Sandwiches come wrapped in the pita or naan-like bread, filled with vegetables and chunks of feta cheese. This will fill you up, but for the full Moby experience, you need more.
The famished should try the traditional kabob platters, with cubes of meat lining the top of the plate. The basic form of the platter is accompanied by bread and yogurt sauce, but pay the extra dollar or two for a side of rice as well. The three combined constitute a perfectly complete meal, with two grilled wedges of tomato framing the kabob.
With each order comes a half-circle of bread. Lighter than a piece of pita bread, it is more akin to Indian naan. Served fresh out of the oven with a small dish of cucumber-yogurt sauce, you’ll probably want to eat four orders of it instead of your meal. If you opt for a full kabob platter with bread and rice, you will certainly be stuffed by the end.
The rice is just as light and tasty and colors your plate with white and yellow grains. But this isn’t the sticky rice you get from Hunan; it is nice and light, not sticky at all (which does make eating it a little bit harder) and decorated with a purple spice and a dollup of butter in the middle. The crispy rice is rumored to be even more delicious – perhaps so delicious that the Moby chefs have been keeping it for themselves; thus, it could not be reviewed.
With all this great food, it’s hard to imagine getting an appetizer or extra side. The salads, hummus and grape leaves complement each meal well, but you may not have any room left to try them. The same goes for dessert. The baklava looks delicious, but don’t overdo it; it’s not flaky enough and is dry.
What if you get a late night craving? You are out at Third Edition or Mr. Smith’s until last call and now need some bread to soak up all of that alcohol. Well, Moby Dick has your hangover remedy with its Friday and Saturday 4 a.m. closing time so grab some bread and kabob for your drunken walk home.
But if you don’t want to make the trek, order through Take Out Taxi and they will bring Moby Dick out of the ocean and straight into your dorm room.
The Georgetown location seems like a hole in the wall. The small restaurant will remind you of the cramped quad you moved into in Thurston. With seating for only about a dozen, most call in and take their dinner home. The restaurant is simple: tables to the left, counter in front and the menu posted on the wall; you won’t find any whales decorating the place. In addition, a newer Moby Dick recently opened up in Dupont Circle.
The only downside of Moby Dick, other than the nonsensical name, is the price. While it is definitely worth it, forking over $12 for a takeout meal or to eat with plastic forks may seem a little steep. Ignore the thrifty old woman inside you and hand over a 20 so you can enjoy an extra side of yogurt sauce.