NJ Dining: Honey


Honey Mediterranean Gourmet & Market
1150 Teaneck Road, Teaneck NJ
(201) 530-5083

Restaurants sometimes have good reasons for calling themselves something they are not. In the case of Honey in Teaneck, it’s because that marketing is often more effective than full-monty disclosure. Which is very, very sad, because I think Honey is one of the most interesting ethnic restaurants to open in our area in a very long time.

Why the deception? Honey’s cuisine is Persian — which originates from the country that in the modern day is called Iran.

While the restaurant bills itself as Mediterranean, modern day Iran is nowhere near the Mediterranean Sea. Iran borders the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and cuisine-wise bears only a passing resemblance to most Mediterranean food.

Sure, Persia once controlled the territory which is now modern day Turkey, which does border the Mediterranean, but that was between 550 and 330 BCE , when the Achaemenid Empire controlled most of the civilized world.

The history of Persia is complex and one of the most fascinating in ancient history. Its cuisine is unique, delicious, and exotic. And in this part of Northern New Jersey we’ve had the unfortunate situation of previous Persian restaurants failing, such as Shiraz in Edgewater.

Up until Honey’s opening, we’ve only had access to Afghani food at the very excellent  Teaneck Kebab HousePamir in Morristown and Kabab Paradise in Lake Hiawatha. While sharing a similar cultural history as well as a similar language with Iran, Afghan food is very different in terms of their cuisine. Aside from Honey, Negeen in Summit is one of the few other legit Persian restaurants in the area.

[Editor’s Note: Shahrzad in Edgewater, which took over Shiraz’s space, also opened in June of 2010, after this post was originally written]

Like other Muslims residing in this country Iranian-Americans are often the unfortunate recipients of bad behavior and harassment from ignorant people who vandalize restaurants and businesses as a result of misdirected anger and hatred.

Because of this Persian cuisine in this part of the country frequently goes unappreciated. Los Angeles by comparison has a thriving Persian community, but in New Jersey not so much.

Teaneck just got its Persian on. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Honey recently re-decorated the entire front of their store and now has a very pretty dining room.

These old Persian works of art depicting popular dishes and food being sold by street vendors were recently imported from Iran.

This table, called a Haftseen was decorated for the Persian New Year (Nowruz) while I was there. Each item represents a word in the Farsi language that starts with an “S” sound, or the Seven ‘S’s.

Honey is both a full-service restaurant as well as a Persian grocery store. The rear of the place is lined with wall to wall exotic spices and nuts and tea and all kinds of wonderful things needed to cook authentic Persian.

Here’s a more wide-angle view of the grocery.

Awesome tea section, with a big selection of bagged and loose-leaf Persian-style and English-style black teas.

More Persian grocery goodness (click photo to enlarge)

Raw, green almonds. These are actually eaten as snacks in their raw form.

Persian pastries and cookies.

Honey’s Menu. Click on the photo to enlarge.

A view of the grill area, with Kabobs cooking.

We decided to try all three soups on the menu. This is the Ash Reshteh, which is made with spinach, cilantro, parsley, noodles, beans and lentils, and flavored with unusual spices including dried Persian lime powder.

This is Barley Soup, with Barley, Green Beans, Carrots, Corn, Onion and Chicken with “House Sauce”. It’s a mild flavored, comfort-food type soup.

Our favorite, however, was the Lentil Soup, flavored with Persian spices.

This appetizer is called a Kookoo Sabzi, a spiced vegetable souffle of herbs, garlic, eggs and walnuts. Similar to the Eastern-European Spinach Kugel.

This is the “Beef Cutlet”.

Shirazi Salad.

Shirazi Salad, plated. It’s similar to other Middle Eastern salads but with a very strong lime juice flavor and more herbal.

What do you drink with Persian food? Yogurt Mint Soda, or Doogh. Salty, minty… and yogurty. I could feel the lactobacillus brewing in my stomach after drinking it.

This appetizer/hot dip is Kashk-o Bademjan, sauteed eggplant blended with Persian spices including dried mint and topped with sour cream. Nothing like Babaghanoush.

Koobideh Kebab, probably considered to be Iran’s national dish, a spiced mix of lamb and beef served with saffron rice pullao. I once made these at home and so can you if you buy the right spices from this store, which they sell in packets. All the meat cooked at this restaurant is Halal which strictly adheres to Islamic dietary standards.

Koobideh Kebab (2011)

Steak Kebab, made with Sumac-seasoned Filet Mignon which has been butterflied out.

Zereshk Polo, Basmati Rice topped with Barberries (a tart, currant-like fruit) with slivered almond, pistachios and saffron rice served with chicken kabob. Visually impressive and really tasty too.

Persians really like their pickles. This is a mix of Eggplant, Carrot, Cauliflower, Radish and Chili Pepper.

In addition to Kebobs, Persian cuisine is also defined by stews. This is a Fesenjan, tiny meat balls stewed in a rich sweet and sour sauce with walnuts and pomegranate, served with rice. This stuff did not get left over and an international incident between my wife and I almost broke out over who got to finish it.

This is Ghormeh Sabzi, a stew of greens, red beans, lamb and dried lime. Like the other stews it has a distinctive sour flavor from the Persian lime.

This is another stew, Gheymah, which are cubes of lamb with yellow split peas in a tangy sauce. This is normally served over white rice, but I asked if they had any Tahdig, the crispy stuff that adheres to the bread that is stuck to the bottom of the rice  that keeps the pot from burning. Iranians go crazy for this stuff and the owners were very happy to oblige and treat us just like family. And now I know why they like Tahdig so much.

A regular order of Gheymah served with eggplant on top.

Rolled pastry filled with a cold whipped cream (2011)

Faloodeh, a very cold, semi-frozen noodle dessert with sweet rose water syrup. This is meant to be eaten during very hot days, and is very much oriented toward kids. Definitely not a winter dessert.

My favorite dessert at the restaurant is Bastani-e Za’farāni, home-made Saffron Pistachio ice cream with rosewater syrup. This is similar and probably related to an Indian Kulfi, but with a very heavy saffron punch.

Naan-e khaameh-ee aka Persian cream puff. Iranians like to eat their pastries with very cold, actually frozen cream in the center, colder and harder than ice cream. They’ll heat it up a little if you want, though.

The generous owners, Fatima and Ali Khayatian.

16 Responses to NJ Dining: Honey

  1. AA says:

    It’s nice to see Koobideh in New Jersey!

  2. Vince says:

    Looks great, Jason, will need to head over from Leonia (mention to Anthony B. by the way that Leonia is still a great place to live, but needs a few good restaurants and whether he can open a few!!).

    Hopefully, I won’t make Joe from Joeyness feel too bad if I head over to Honey!

    Best,
    Vince

  3. You won’t make Joey feel bad. He’s still the Felafel and Kofte Kebab King. Don’t bother with felafel at this place, BTW, it’s a commercial mix.

  4. Looks like you can get some delicious healthy eats here! As a Registered Dieitian in Northern NJ i’m always looking for healthy places to recommend to my clients. I love the yogurt drink! must taste that one.

  5. Ike says:

    A Persian restaurant calling itself “Mediterranean” is nowhere near the level of misdirection that you’ll find in Salisbury, MD, where there’s an excellent little Persian restaurant called Tuscany Grill. Odd! But very tasty.

    VERY appetizing images there.

  6. Henry Strauss says:

    Jason, If this restaurant were as good as your photographs that enticed us to go there we would have been very happy. The food was very bland to say the least and since when do servers bring the main courses when most of us were still eating our appetizers. In the past you have put us on to some wonderrful restaurants but this one was definitely not worth the schlep. Going to Bennies tonight. Hope to see you there some day. You are missing out on some terrific, healthy food.

  7. Henry Strauss says:

    We ordered 7 of the items you pictured plus 2 soups. In our opinion everything needed some spicing.
    As to Bennies, I am not comparing the 2 restaurants but it is one of your many top notch recommendations and thought it was worth mentioning that we go there often. Have yet to complain about anything being too bland. Since you mention that “you go there all the time” I hope to see you some time.” My wife and I are there at least twice a week.

  8. […] I mentioned a few months ago in my post about Honey Mediterranean Gourmet in Teaneck, Persian cuisine is few and far between in these parts of New Jersey — it’s something […]

  9. […] Off the Broiler Share and Enjoy: […]

  10. Haidook says:

    First let me put it tis way. I gave 3 chances to try but they fail. At first impression It is a lovely family business That I loved, but at the first visit I asked for fresh baked Barbary (Persian bread) that i have seen on their TV ad. but they hand me a turkish old barbary kind bread. 2-Nd bad experienced was their kabab it was terrible. The 3-RD They are selling a pastry name Gata, It was no were near gata just sweet bread. At the end I am not writing this to hurt their business but I like them to know their weaknesses and improve the quality of their food. Good Luck.

  11. Janemaaz@yahoo.com says:

    We went for a girls night out…great service and delicious food..will be back

  12. Kate says:

    Oh, hey! They redecorated… now I won’t feel weird about sitting in there and eating! (It had one of those strange vibes last time.) KJF and I liked a lemon meatball (?) dish we had the last time. And the pastries were very nice. Not expensive, either.

  13. Heidi says:

    Silk Road in Warren is a delightful Afghan restaurant that you may want to add to your list. As well as Sahara in Skillman for Lebanese cuisine.

  14. susie says:

    Well today was my birthday and I took my family here. We ordered everything (I mean EVERYTHING) that OTB recommended.

    Our meal was disappointing. Service was nice; our questions regarding food (do you make your own yogurt? etc.) were answered nicely.

    But food was really mediocre. There are so many other Iranian/Persian places in Paterson with better food at more reasonable prices.

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