Flatiron Lunch: Introducing Ash Reshteh Veggie Noodle Soup at Taste of Persia
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
Zach Brooks has taught me to keep my eyes open for hidden restaurants (El Sabroso, I’m looking at you.) So I noticed the Taste of Persia counter hanging out in a non-descript pizza place on West 18th Street. But Zach Brooks has also taught me to be very alert to prices. With only a soup (and a vegetarian soup at that!) below $10, I had decided that Taste of Persia wasn’t for ML. And then a friend who lives in the area and who has good taste in food told me she loves the soup. She encouraged me to go back. And she, and her fiancé, assured me it was very filling. It is also hard to argue with a glowing NYTimes write up (which is proudly mounted on posters all over the space.)
Did I mention that Taste of Persia is not some new fancy restaurant, but a front window corner of a run-down pizza place? Having got their start as booth at the Union Square Holiday Market, Taste of Persia moved to this location to have a year-round presence.
With such little real estate inside Pizza Paradise, it is not surprising the menu is only a few items long.
The signature dish at Taste of Persia is the ash reshteh, a Persian vegetable noodle soup. With beans, chickpeas, lentils and noodles. I found this soup incredibly hearty even for a small container (for $6). In addition, it is served with two wedges of bread that are a little dry, but can certainly make the meal go further.
It was topped with dried (and oil fried) mint, caramelized onions and garlic and yogurt sauce all from the ash reshteh topping station which is proudly labeled and hard to miss.
The intense and lingering herbal flavor will not be for everyone. So if you aren’t sure you will like it, try watching this YouTube video first. If you aren’t sure after that, you could always stop by and ask for a sample, which they will happily hand out.
They also have platters of stew over rice for $12. Wanting to balance the vegetarian soup, I ordered to lamb stew. I wasn’t told that I had the option of two different stews in my platter, one on each side of the take-out container. (I learned this later from reading SeriousEats.) The lamb stew was actually very sweet for a savory dish. But more importantly, the amount of stew versus the amount of rice doesn’t seem worth the $12.
THE + (What people who like this place will say)
- Thickest soup ever? I think so.
- I can get awesome Persian soup, and my boring co-worker can a slice. It is a win-win.
- I admire Taste of Persia’s efforts to keep their overhead low.
THE – (What people who don’t like this place will say)
- Can I really recommend a place that has maybe one legit dish?
- $12 for a little bit of meat stew over rice???? No way.
- If I wanted a mouthful of herbs, I would just eat a handful of mint.
Taste of Persia , Inside Pizza Paradise, 12 West 18th Street btwn Fifth and Sixth Avenues, (917) 592-3467