The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
Sameem Afghan Restaurant (4341 Manchester Avenue; 314-534-9500) is St. Louis' only Afghan restaurant. Good thing it also happens to be an excellent Afghan restaurant.
Fans of Sameem's original location on South Grand will find the new spot much smaller, but the food as flavorful as ever. Those of you who have yet to experience Sameem -- or Afghan cuisine, period, for that matter -- are in for treat.
Not sure where to start? Try the muntoo, golf-ball-size steamed dumplings of pasta dough wrapped around a mixture of ground beef and onion. This classic Afghan dish comes topped with lentils and a little more ground beef, a garlic-yogurt sauce and a sprinkling of dried mint. A well-meaning but dumb American (e.g., yours truly) might be tempted to call this dish "Afghan cuisine in a nutshell."
Generalizations aside, muntoo are as good an introduction as any -- hearty, the meat gently accented by herbs and spices rather than spiked with chile heat as in Indian or Pakistani cuisine, with the tart, cool yogurt acting as a key counterpoint.
Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!
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