It’s not often you’ll walk into a restaurant mid-week in Adelaide and be told there’s no room. Especially when that restaurant has been operating for 10 years. But it’s a regular scene at Parwana Afghan Kitchen, the Torrensville joint that became an Adelaide institution.
The Ayubi family who run the restaurant (matriarch Farida heads the kitchen while her husband and children work the floor) are forced to turn hopeful diners away most nights of the week – to the benefit of neighbouring eateries. So when the space next door became vacant in early 2017 moving in was a no-brainer.
It’s been a long time coming but the Ayubis quietly opened the new room last month. It seats an extra 20 people but that hasn’t stopped tables filling up. “We still don’t have room sometimes!” says Farida, with a laugh.
Mash, who kitted out the original space and sister site Kutchi Deli, was called in to work its magic again. A narrow archway now joins the two areas. The new room is a distinct entity, a wash of blue-green contrasting with the original’s pastel pinks. Deep grooves dot the eastern wall to mimic bullet holes, says Farida. It’s a sobering reminder of the life the Ayubis left behind 30 years ago during the Soviet-Afghan War. Framed black-and-white family portraits provide happier memories: a six-year-old Farida with the same steely gaze seen in current-day photographs; happy snaps of her young children, now adults and intrinsic to the Parwana story.
The original room has also received a fresh lick of paint, with textured walls, blocks of bold colour and a minimal, cleaner design.
Parwana has long been a go-to among locals and tourists (they have customers booking from London, New York and Paris, says Farida) keen to experience its plate-licking-worthy selection of traditional dumplings, grilled meats, and crowd-favourite slabs of eggplant in tomato sauce topped with garlic yoghurt. But every now and then a glowing review or a plug from a celebrity gives rise to a new wave of diners. The latest culprit? A visit from the New York Times.
“We had just opened [the new room] and it was crazy,” says Farida. “The kitchen wasn’t ready yet. But everything’s on track now.”
The kitchen has now been upgraded to better cope with the extra flow of mouths. New additions to the menu will soon be introduced, too. The Ayubis are keeping quiet on specifics but rest assured they won’t replace the dishes you know and love. “We wouldn’t change it so we don’t have all our favourites there,” says Farida’s daughter and Kutchi Deli owner, Durkhanai. “It’ll just be more options.” Watch this space. We will be.
Parwana Afghan Kitchen
124B Henley Beach Road, Torrensville
(08) 8443 9001
Tues to Sun 6pm–10pm