Spice Shack

Kabobs is the greatest thing to happen in Minnesota-Hyderabad cuisine, ever

Now that I've shared my most intimate thoughts, be aware that I also know yours. You're thinking: Kid, you're nuttier than a pecan grove, you're battier than the K-Mart impulse aisle at Halloween, you're cracked worse than the Liberty Bell. There's no way there's a restaurant right off 494 where I can eat Indian food that good for, like, $10 a head. Well, you're partly right. This place is hardly a restaurant. If you dine here, you will order off a menu consisting of poster board and office paper taped to the wall. You will sit at tables that look like they lived three lives in fast food before they got here. While the various kabobs and so forth are served on real plates, if you decide to dine family-style and share with your date, you will eat from paper plates that you fetch yourself from a cart stashed beneath the menu posters. To say that the place has the ambience of an office closet is being charitable. As much as I love the food here, I mostly recommend thinking of Kabobs right now as the perfect Indian takeout—which, I'll add, they do beautifully and sensitively, the naan foil-wrapped, the Chicken 65 and kabobs in different sorts of containers meant to keep the food secure.

When I spoke to the restaurant's owner, Hyderabad native Ather Jameel, he told me that Kabobs' current incarnation is, if things go well, only temporary anyway. Jameel explained that he worked for many years in IT, and then owned a Halal slaughterhouse near Northfield, but, he said, he sees those jobs as steps to fulfilling his dream of bringing excellent Halal food to Minnesota. To further that dream, he opened Kabobs using his family's secret recipes, but this low-key version is nothing but a "test kitchen" to see whether his food will fly. "Being an IT guy, I didn't want to take a whole lot of risk with a startup," Jameel explained.

Humble surroundings, not-so-humble food: Some of the great Indian dishes at Kabobs
Tony Nelson
Humble surroundings, not-so-humble food: Some of the great Indian dishes at Kabobs

Location Info

Map

Kabobs Restaurant

7814 Portland Ave. S.
Bloomington, MN 55420

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Bloomington

You can get some sense of the ambition of the place by checking out Kabobs' website, which looks like it belongs to a multimillion-dollar restaurant chain, not a four-table takeout next to the highway. (Please note, if you do visit the website, that the menu isn't entirely in line with what they offer on-site.) Will we all look back at Kabobs' humble start with the same nostalgia with which people now remember the original seven-table restaurant that held Quang, the original no-ambience Tacos Morelos, or the first strip-mall Rainbow Chinese? I've been in this business long enough to see that sometimes the mightiest oaks really do grow from the tiniest acorns, so I'll keep watching, and eating, with great relish. While I do, I'll contemplate the great unknown questions of life, like: Do you think there's some Minnesotan on the outskirts of Hyderabad quietly opening a lefse and wild-rice shack?

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