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Cult Favorite Taste Of Persia Is Back — For Delivery Only

Owner and chef Saeed Pourkay is delivering his hit soup and stews all over the city

The exterior of the Persian restaurant Taste of Persia tucked into a pizzeria with a green awning. Taste of Persia has red signage out front.
Taste of Persia’s Saeed Pourkay is delivering meals to customers across the city
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Saeed Pourkay — the owner and chef of shuttered cult-favorite Persian restaurant Taste of Persia — is now offering some of his most popular dishes for delivery.

Pourkay started delivery last week, announcing to his more than 4,000 followers on Instagram that he would provide soup to customers anywhere in the city over the weekend. Orders quickly poured in, and he spent the entire weekend delivering between 35 to 40 orders, he tells Eater. Popular dishes like the ash reshteh, a soup, and ghaymeh bademjaan, a beef stew with lentils and eggplant, are available, though he’s added dishes based on customer demand. After requests, halim — a type of Persian oatmeal — became briefly available.

So far, he’s made between $1,600 to $1,700 over the weekend. “A lot of people are just anxious to eat something different,” he tells Eater.

This week, the soup and oatmeal have been replaced by three different kinds of stews. The crowd-favorite beef stew is on the menu, as is fesenjan, a stew with chicken, pomegranate, and walnuts, and khoresht karafs, a dish with celery, artichoke, and beef. Pourkay posted the new menu on Instagram today and said he’d already received about 10 orders an hour later.

The three stews come in 32-ounce containers that cost $25 each, and Pourkay says each container has three servings. The chef requires customers to order at least $50 worth of food, but he delivers food all over the city and does not charge extra for delivery. Customers have been kind so far, he says, with one leaving him a $200 tip.

Pourkay’s restaurant developed out of a stall at the Union Square holiday market in 2012 into a counter-service spot inside a pizzeria at 12 W. 18th Street the following year. But it closed on January 31 after new owners came on board and asked him to leave. The new owners initially tried to run a copycat Persian restaurant from the pizzeria, but stopped when Pourkay complained about it online.

The chef and community figure subsequently launched a fundraiser to open in a new location and has so far raised more than $65,000 of his $95,000 goal. Pourkay says he’s now settled on a new location along Ninth Avenue, between West 17th and 18th Streets, but has been unable to move forward with the ongoing shutdown on dining-in due to the new coronavirus crisis.

The goal, he says, is to open his restaurant once the virus passes.