When I encountered Kababish on a sultry night around 1 a.m. I already had a bellyful of tacos. Yet there was no way I could resist this place. Dozens of South Asian specialties were advertised on handwritten orange signs plastered in the front window. Although it offers several curries and other fare, this Jackson Heights spot is aptly named; the specialty of the house is kebabs. The skewers are cooked over lump charcoal inside a tandoor, making the restaurant so hot you feel like you're in the oven alongside the meat. But I hardly noticed; too busy checking out the menu of seemingly endless choices.
I asked about a special of sarson sa kaag and was told it’s a mellower version of broccoli rabe. Too bad they were out of it. I grew up eating the Southern Italian green, and would jump at the chance to try its South Asian cousin. Instead I opted for the "Original Gola Kebab” with a side of “Milky Nan Heavyweight.” The dude behind the counter told me that it would take a while to make and asked me if I could handle spicy food. After assuring him that neither was a problem, I settled in and watched the grillman prepare my gola kebab.
Even though it’s served as a pile of soft beef imbued with fiery chilies and other spices, the gola kebab is grilled on a skewer. The kebabs are so soft that they’re bound with string to keep them from falling apart. I’m still not sure why Kababish calls its gargantuan nan “milky,” but it’s certainly heavyweight. I tore off fluffy pieces of the freshly made bread and used them to scoop up pâté-like bits of the beef. There was plenty left to take home, and this had nothing to do with the Mexican food I filled up on beforehand.
FYI: Despite what the signs says, Kababish closes shop at 3 a.m. Works for me. That's usually my cut-off time for eating spicy chunks of mystery meat.
70-64 Broadway, Jackson Heights NY 11372 (nr. 72nd Street; map)