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Located above the Crown Valley Market that specializes in Persian groceries, Bahar is a somewhat hidden spot showcasing some of Orange County’s most authentic Persian cuisine. A door to the side of the market leads you upstairs to a warm, open dining room. Windows on one side of the room provide a beautiful view of Arroyo Trabuco while the other side features a large brick wall and sneak peeks at the busy aisles of the market below.
The menu is substantial and we started our culinary adventure with several appetizers – a dish of crispy rice with three different toppings, as well as the Bahar platter. The crispy rice was substantial and each of the three toppings were delicious. The Bahar platter was a little more challenging, as it included a couple of yogurt-based offerings, as well as a fresh salad shirazi, comprised mainly of tomatoes, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice and something called panir o’ sabzi that combines feta cheese, basil, mint, watercress, radishes and walnuts. Everything tasted very fresh, though we appeared to lack any idea as to how the items would be traditionally eaten.
Moving on to the main plates, we selected a range of exotically-named dishes including tah chin (saffron rice cake with chicken), gormeh sabzi (beef stew with kidney beans and herbs), as well as the easier to decipher boneless lamb kebob. The latter two dishes were served with an abundant supply of basmati rice, as well as a traditional grilled tomato.
Having stuffed ourselves on the appetizers and main courses, desserts were out of the question, but Bahar does provide a range of traditional Middle Eastern selections that look delicious.
All in all, Bahar appears to attract a Persian audience as their core customer base, and the traditional dishes certainly support that approach. Some guidance from the wait staff on ordering and consuming their traditional offerings would be helpful for customers not familiar with Persian cuisine. Nonetheless, I felt that there was no downside to ordering randomly, as each dish seems fresh and true to style and I encourage anyone looking for something out of the ordinary to head to Bahar for an exotic and delicious dining experience.
Address: 27771 Center Dr. Mission Viejo CA 92692
Information: 949.340.1011, www.baharcuisineofpersia.com