Ocean Township, NJ 07712
- Cost: $$
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: None
- Parking: Public Lot
- Take Out: Yes
October 30, 2013
I wasn’t expecting to stumble upon Afghan cuisine driving home from this month’s World Record Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, but that’s the beauty of ethnic food in New Jersey – you never know where you’ll find it. Monmouth County’s Babur Garden, named after an historic park in Kabul, is worth a visit to sample the traditional foods of Afghanistan.
Babur Garden (New Jersey’s version) is a comfortable restaurant in a shopping plaza just off Route 35 in Ocean Township. Enter the dining room under the piercing eyes of the famous Afghan Girl (Sharbat Gula) photo above the counter. There are at least 25 tables in the large, sparsely decorated space.
For an appetizer, try the scallion (aushak) or chicken dumplings (chicken mantu). The soup of the day was an excellent cream of carrot when we visited. Salad and bread come with each entree. The oblong Afghan naan is freshly baked and very tasty with the dipping sauces (yogurt and mint) placed on the table.
Main courses include meat kebabs, stews and richly flavored rice dishes (palaw). The lamb, chicken and beef kabobs are served with large portions of brown, white, spinach (zamarood) or yellow rice.
For a unique drink, try dogh, the Afghan version of the salty Middle-Eastern yogurt drink. In the words of my son’s friend, “It tastes like it should be good for you.” The excellent mango smoothie, a less adventurous drink selection, tastes like it is flavored with hint of rosewater.
Babur Garden is a worthy addition to EthnicNJ’s growing roster of Afghan restaurants. It’s a small sample size – we’ve found nine NJ Afghan restaurants, and visited two, so far – so I’ll rank Babur Garden 2nd, behind Warren’s Silk Road, which is a more intimate dining experience.