They kind of sound like twin sisters, right?
You'll be glad to know that last week's date night was not as boring as the week before (when we were making lists). Nope- this time we were Mr. & Mrs. Worldwide and skipped from Turkey to Afghanistan in one evening. We started at the new Alanya Cafe at 1 Lake Street. This is the small corner space in the center of town where Bella Bambini used to be. A friendly Turkish couple Eylem and Ozcan Sarlbas greeted us and recommended we try a Turkish coffee. It's a small espresso with a unique sweet chocolate-like flavor and slightly gritty texture. Completely delicious. I only had a sip and let Steve finish because he can handle his caffeine better than I.
Ozcan was formerly a chef at Microsoft and the two of them have always loved Kirkland, especially spending time here in the summers. Their cafe also offers salads, sandwiches and snacks. We split a marinated shrimp/avocado salad which was quite refreshing with orange slices and a citrus dressing. And a generous size for only $8.25. You will also find organic breads and Ozcan's homemade baklava- try it with ice cream!
Alanya has a handful of small tables, designed for people to stop by all day- chat, nibble, have fun and meander on. They're hoping to be that corner hub in town with the door always open and friendly faces dropping in often. Go say hi and definitely try the coffee. Hours are now 8am-8:30pm everyday. 425-739-4747
After our Alanya salad, we strolled down to Ariana for a few entrees. Ariana is the new 'authentic Afghan cuisine' at 21 Central Way on Feb 5th, 2014. Upon entry, it's still the old familiar dark wood and heavy decor that it's been for years. Nostalgia made me want to order a martini and a big steak. Reality presented a menu filled with ethnic choices such as qabuli palau (seasoned rice, lamb, carrot/raisins/almonds), borani badenjan (fried eggplant w/yogurt sauce), and mantu (dumpling pasta filled w/onion and seasoned ground beef) to name a few. It's very helpful that all of the descriptions are in english and priced range from $5 (apps/dessert) to $16. Since we don't eat palan or chalan (rices) or afghan naan, I feel like we ended up missing out on some key components of the food from this region. The staff was super friendly and glad to work with us. I had a lamb teka kabob and Steve a kubida kabob (2 skewers ground beef)- both were deliciously seasoned and perfectly cooked. Instead of rice they brought us a green salad to share (little did they know we just shared a salad at Alanya..). I got the feeling the family is very hands-on in the business. Our waitress was very accommodating and a bit embarrassed when her cute little cousin came to join her at our table. There was a team approach to the service, and when I asked the young waiter with floppy hair and deep brown eyes what was in the tarkari soup he told me that "it's yellow..............with some herbs." If he wasn't so adorable I may have laughed aloud, but his smile made his answer ok for all of us.
Our dinner was very reasonable. We got out for under $40 with tip (drinking hot tea). They also do a buffet lunch from 11-2:30 daily and have lots of yelp comments already (4 1/2 stars). Dine in/take out/catering 11am-9:30pm. 425-576-9832. Post your comments here if you have tried it and have an experience to share.