Outstanding customer service, a relaxing Persian atmosphere and a tantalizing melding of flavors is what awaits patrons at King Kabob in Lake Elsinore.
From the moment you step through the door at this unassuming restaurant nestled in a strip mall just off the I-15, the casual, relaxing atmosphere along with the aromas wafting through the restaurant from the variety of spices King Kabob, a true family-owned restaurant, uses to create their unique and appetizing flavors, your mind is put at ease. The only worry here is deciding which of the delicious flavor combinations to order for your meal.
Restaurateur Haroon Ali has a storied background in the business, beginning with washing dishes at his father’s restaurant, Artie’s Pizza in West Covina, and working his way up into the kitchen, culminating in his opening of King Kabob in Lake Elsinore in 2010. Growing up in a family where food and hospitality rule, Ali’s roots shine through in the customer service and care that he, along with his head chef Hector Zachula, put into every dish.
“My family had a catering business, and we were working out of a family friend’s restaurant. I was looking for a business, not a restaurant when our broker who happened to be a family friend found this place,” Ali explained. “My father looked at it and told me it was a great place.”
Originally the restaurant was just going to be a lunch restaurant, a little 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. joint, but customers loved the food and just kept coming, Ali said.
“Our menu continuously grew and here we are seven years later,” he said. “I had no menu; I had no preparation; I had nothing. I signed my lease before I even knew what I was going to do.”
Ali enjoys cooking and baking, but said more than anything, he loves customer service.
“I love what I do,” he said, noting that running his restaurant is not work to him.
“This gives me change every day,” he said. “Restaurants are a tough business; it is about meeting expectations. Everyone has different expectations, but you have to be a chameleon and I think I do that well.”
Family is important to Ali, so when the time came to name his new restaurant, he choose King because it makes people think of the highest.
“Except for God,” he said. “It’s the best of Kabobs.” He chose four kings from a deck of playing cards as a logo to honor his family.
“There are four men in my family, my father, myself and my two brothers; we are the four kings,” Ali explained.
The Persian and Afghan fusion of flavors that Ali and Zachula have developed helps to create a delightful dish, no matter what you are craving.
“I did a Persian menu with an infusion of Afghani dishes to separate me from all the other Persian restaurants in the area,” he said. “I just wanted to bring the Persian culture to Elsinore.”
It was a smart move for Ali. King Kabob, conveniently located at 31712 Casino Drive, is a must try for anyone looking for something unique and delicious. Complete with recipes from his mother’s kitchen, Ali scores big with his varied and creative menu featuring dishes such as the chopan kabob featuring cooked-to-perfection filet mignon, or the lamb kabob plate with specially seasoned, tender lamb that practically falls off the bone. All plates are served with imported basmati rice and a juicy charbroiled tomato.
“It’s food consistency and customer service,” Ali said when asked what he thought kept his customers coming back. “It’s very important to have top notch customer service. You have to put 100 percent into your customers and making sure they are happy. At the same time, you have to have good quality food that is consistent, because if you have food that tastes a certain way one day then different the next day, they won’t come back.
“I think I have a passion for this,” he said.
For my visit, Ali pulled out all the stops, from the incredibly fresh Greek salad, a combination of iceberg and romaine lettuce, topped with fresh Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and Bulgarian feta cheese, served with his incredible housemade lemon olive oil dressing, to the incredibly delicate lamb chops, chicken tenders and filet mignon served up steaming hot from the grill.
From the first bite of King Kabob’s imported basmati rice, I was hooked on the fluffy flavorful side dish. I tried it plain and with the ground sumac, served on the side so I could control the spiciness of the dish, something Ali does with all of his meals.
“We only use the finest cuts of meats at King Kabob,” Ali said, adding that he drives to Anaheim for all his Mediterranean spices and seasoning. “We serve our spices on the side and make our own hot sauce, which is phenomenal.”
After my salad, I dug right in to the chicken koobideh, a strip of juicy charbroiled ground chicken seasoned with minced garlic, fresh coriander seeds, onion, olive oil and other wonderful seasonings that gave this dish a unique flavor that left me wanting more.
After my first foray into koobideh, I dug into the chicken barg, a tantalizing butterfly-cut chicken breast marinated and seasoned with Afghani-style spices and charbroiled to perfection. Juicy all the way to the center, the dish had a delightful melding of flavors including garlic, sumac and the most mouthwatering, delectable chicken I think I have ever tasted.
It was tough to leave the chicken barg and move on to the chopan kabob, a butterfly-cut filet mignon marinated and cooked to perfection over Ali’s custom made grill, but I managed to do so, all the while eyeing those lamb chops that I saved for last. The chopan kabob was everything filet mignon should be, juicy, tender and full of flavor.
After several bites of the chopan kabob, I went for the gusto and tried the lamb chops and was so glad I did. These flavorful cuts of meat were undeniably delicious. Cooked to just the right temperature, this exquisitely marinated chop was so good I just had to go back for seconds. You’d be hard pressed to find a better lamb chop anywhere in the Valley, in my opinion.
“It’s just flavors you have to taste,” Ali said. “It’s all about flavors, and it’s all about presentation.”
King Kabob scores top marks in my book; stop in and try one of their delicious lunches or dinners today.
King Kabob is open seven days a week. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For a true Persian experience, visit the first and third Saturday of the month when belly dancers are on hand to entertain King Kabob guests. Carryout and catering is available. For more information, including a full menu, visit www.kingkabob.net or call (951) 245-5999.