Sunday , September 24 2017

Pomona Restaurant Review “Zuby’s Cafe’ by John Clifford

Follow Pomona resident John Clifford as he eats at EVERY restaurant on Garey Avenue “Eating Garey Ave”, and writes about his experience. He started at In N Out South Garey in January 2016.

John Clifford

by Pomona Resident John Clifford
President, Pomona Public Library Foundation | Member Save Our Pomona Public Library | Director, Historical Society of the Pomona Valley | Member, Pomona Christmas Parade Committee | Historic Consultant–Mayfair Hotel | Instructor–Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)

Zuby’s Cafe — 3131 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767
My Meal Cost: $13.07. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

Hope your dining experiences are wonderful in 2017 as I complete my trek up Garey.  I’m back at the Grove Center in north Pomona just south of Foothill on the west side. This week is Zuby’s Cafe, which yelp identifies as Persian/Iranian. I arrived right at noon for lunch. As I entered I noted that this was a very nice place, but it looked a little disheveled and empty. I walked to the back as there was no one there and looked at the menu. Someone, who I found out was the owner and throughout my stay called me “brother,” came out and finally greeted me. I actually asked if they were open. He assured me that they were and apologized as they’re undergoing some remodeling and the construction has left part of the dining room a mess.
So I chose a table and sat down. The room seems to be mostly done and has stacked rock on walls and large video screens on the two side walls as well as a menu screen over the cashier’s desk. The one over the desk has the menu, while the others rotate excellent photos of their menu items. They have both indoor seating as well as carry-out and delivery. The look of the place is definitely “modern” with black plates and elegant touches.

At this particular time the owner was handling the front of house and asked me what I would like to drink. Since it was cold and somewhat dismal, I asked about hot beverages. He suggested tea which is what I ended up ordering. It was brought in a small glass cup, very elegant, along with a small bowl of sugar (which I didn’t use). No little packets or shaker here.
The menu is exceptionally long. So what kind of food was I expecting. Hmmm, given the location and yelp description I thought that perhaps this was a middle eastern place. But the menu is extensive and about as eclectic as anyone would want to see. The 39 appetizers range from hummus and domeh, to crab cakes, to popcorn shrimp, to jalapeno poppers to crab wonton. Huh?
Perusing the loose-leaf binder did not clarify things. There are pages for: salads from Shirazi, to caesar to antipasto; wraps including shish kabab and Tandoori; cold subs; wings; hot subs including Tandoori and tuna melt; stew, middle eastern; pasta, including jambalaya; kebabs with 20 different selections; steak (9 options); ribs; burgers, most common styles with a Chapli kabab burger; chicken; lobster and shrimp with 11 items including one that I’ll have to go back and try, lobster mashed potatoes; pizza, 14 different styles; fish; Chinese (7 items); platters, special family style meals; lunch specials; refreshments (beverages) including smoothies and fountain drinks; and finally desserts including Persian ice cream. Whew! What a selection. This was sensory overload for trying to figure out what to eat. You can see their complete menu at: http://inwizard123.wixsite.com/zubyscafe/menus.

Since I had the owner waiting on me, I asked him about the depth of his menu. He explained that his philosophy is that he wanted anyone to be able to come in and find something they’d like. He further explained that all of his food is Halal (a muslim preparation of meat that meets the requirements of Sharia law–similar to kosher for Jewish people). He explained that there are few restaurants that offer Halal and that he wants a wide variety of culinary options that still follow in the Halal tradition. I asked him what he would suggest as a dish he’d like his restaurant judged by?This stumped him so I asked about popular dishes. He pointed to the burgers and chicken options. I explained that since it was cold that I was thinking about the stews and asked his recommendation. I particularly noted that Gheimeh stew, which was split pea in a tomato sauce, had french fries on top. ? He explained that is the way that the Persian’s eat it but he’s not a fan. He suggested the Gormeh Sabi, a stew made with a lot of herbs, chunks of beef, dried lime (?), and kidney beans that was thicker and less soupy. It also came with buttered Basmati rice with saffron.

The stew was interesting in that the green herbs (cilantro, parsley, chives, and methi leaves or fenugreek) were the bulk of the dish. It was simmered in a sauce and had tender chunks of beef. The beef flavor was hard to discern over the large amount of herb in the dish. The beans did give a good textural contrast and added to the overall taste. Quite warm and more filling than I might have expected. I was particularly impressed with the rice. It was not like rice in Chinese or Japanese cooking nor like the rice in Mexican or South American cooking. The rice was very long thin grains and with the saffron and butter had a very buttery, moist flavor. Usually I like some kind of sauce on rice, but this stuff was great just as it came.

After my meal, I was talking with the owner and for the first time in doing this blog exposed myself as a blogger and what I was doing there. I asked him about the place and particularly why it was empty. He said that because it was Tuesday and the first day for kids going back to school that it was very quiet. He said that yesterday, Monday, he was swamped with a lot of folks coming back from the mountains. He also said that this restaurant also provides school lunches for a Muslim school in the area.

A delightful time, good food, in a modern, attractive space.

UP NEXT:  Alladin, Jr.

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