Best Resurrection San Francisco 2008 - Helmand Palace
2424 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94109
When a good chunk of Telegraph Hill fell off and landed in the Helmand's back yard more than a year ago, San Francisco lost its best Afghan restaurant (and one of North Beach's best bargains). It took more than six months, but lovers of aushak (big leek-stuffed ravioli-like dumplings), mantwo (smaller pelmeni-like beef-and-onion dumplings), and kaddo (pumpkin topped with meat sauce and garlicky yogurt) can satisfy their cravings at the restaurant's new spiffy location near Russian Hill, now called Helmand Palace. Lovers of lamb can choose from among several braised and grilled dishes, accompanied by plain rice (challow) or spiced rice (pallow). Kebabs include lamb, beef, chicken, salmon, and (our pick) the spicy, sausagelike kofta. Many dishes are vegetarian, or can be prepared that way. Three pudding desserts are standouts: the caramel pudeen, pistachio-rice sheerberaing, and fruit-topped feereney. One caveat: Alas, Helmand Palace no longer serves its signature all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.