Monday, February 20, 2017

Tayeb Mandi Mediterranean Grill: Decent Food, Terrible Service

Restaurant: Tayeb Mandi
Address: 8409 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 2/3/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about my trip to another Mediterranean (or rather Arab place). This place is called Tayeb Mandi. It was a place that I had wanted to try for a while. The main reason being that it had specialties from the countries that border the Persian Gulf such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar. Most of the food from the Arabic speaking countries you see in Houston is from countries like Palestine and Lebanon. This is where we distinct between Mediterranean and Arab in this blog. I was going to go the previous week, but I went during the time of Friday Prayers and had to head to Kabab King. The best time for me to try came right before I went to downtown to attend the Super Bowl fan fest using Metro as well as going to the NFL Experience. After the Friday prayer ended, I headed to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Tayeb Mandi is located at the intersection of Almeda and Holly Hall. It is in the same store as Al Ameer halal meat. On the left is the traditional sitting down area, where you sit on the ground next to cushions and eat the food. There are also normal tables and chairs. You had to go to the front and order the food.



Let's Eat!
I was going to go for the Mandi, but they didn't have any. What a bummer! So I ended up getting a chicken kabsa, which proved to be the difference maker in terms of my budget I had for the entire day of eating here and eating at the Super Bowl fan fest. It comes with muhammara (Arab hot sauce) and one sid edish (I got yogurt). I also got a bottle of Mexican Coke. The total price? $12.43 (tax included). This is no buffet or a-la-carte, it is cafeteria style. You tell them what you want and they'll give it to you. You pay at the end.



Menu:
A mix of both Arab and Mediterranean favorites. They even have biryani. From what I've heard, this place used to serve more items such as haneeth, and agada. Interesting how they don't have a mix grill option since they had shish tawouk and kafta kabab.

The Menu (click to view)

Chicken Kabsa

The Verdict:
The traditional way of eating is with the hand, but they give you a fork and spoon just in case you don't want to do that. The food was decent and filling. The chicken has flavor, and the red sauce gave a good kick.
The service was horrible however. The person behind the counter was rude from the start to the end of the trip. He was not polite and professional. This may not be a fancy place, but it's ok to be friendly and professional towards your customers right? He wouldn't even respond to me saying "Thank You" as I would head out.



Conclusion:
While this place had decent food, I don't see myself eating at the establishment again. I would rather just get it for takeout, and I would recommend you doing the same thing as well. I hope to try their lamb, which is their specialty, and see how that tastes.



Grading:
Service: 4/10
Food: 7/10
Total: 11/20 = 55% (F) (It's already February and an F has already been given)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Tayeb Mandi
8409 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Phone: (832) 649-4111
Website: none
Facebook: none
Timings: Mon-Sun: 9 AM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below, send me an email, or message me on Facebook.

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kabab King Food Truck: Average Food, Less Impressive Service

Restaurant: Kabab King
Address: 6019 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 1/27/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about another halal food truck. This is called Kabab King. Halal food trucks are growing in the Houston area, but barely are popular. The main reason is because of the lack of social media presence. It is literally because of social media that food trucks in the Houston area are a thing. The only halal ones that are really popular are Dasman Food Truck, Gyro King, and Abu Omar. All of that because of their wide presence in social media. I happened to stumble upon it after I saw it while driving to UH from my doctor's appointment. I was originally going to go to Tayeb Mandi to try mandi, but their doors were shut. I decided to grab a quick bute then head to UH for the Friday prayer and MSA meeting.



Let The Experience Begin!
The food truck is located at the Shell gas station at Almeda and North McGregor. Parking is limited, so it is likely that you would have to park at a pump and walk to the food truck. I was greeted by a grumpy man who was smoking next to his food truck and ignoring the fact that it is never ok to smoke next to a food truck. He got in and I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
According to the owner, the most popular item is the chicken shawarma. Sadly it wasn't available. I don't really know why it wasn't ready even though it opens pretty early. So I ended up getting a lamb gyro shawarma. Price? $6.48 (tax included). Not bad for a simple shawarma. The wait time was 5 minutes and 12 seconds. While waiting, I surfed through the flyer and saw the term "Best Shawarma in Town". The big question now is: is it ACTUALLY the best shawarma in town?



Menu:

https://www.doordash.com/store/kabab-king-houston-70683/?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=gpa (Menu prices are accurate; scroll down slightly to see the full menu).
This place is basically like an Mediterranean place on wheels. You have all sorts of kabab options that go with rice, and sides. They even have their own version of the Chicken Shawarma Arabi, something that I had really enjoyed recently from Abu Omar.

Lamb Gyro Shawarma


The Verdict:
To answer the question that I posted, it is a no. The shawarma was average. There was not that much flavor in the shawarma.



Conclusion:
There are definitely better places for shawarma out there. I have eaten both chicken and beef shawarmas in my life and have written up about them. This falls in the middle. If you want the best shawarma in town, then I suggest you look somewhere else.



Grading:
Service: 6/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 12/20 = 60% (D)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Kabab King
6019 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 740-3357
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kababkinghouston/
Timings: Mon-Sat: 10 AM - 1 AM; Sun: 6 PM - 1 AM
Caters: yes
Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Thursday, January 26, 2017

El Beso Cantina: A Near Perfect Meal of a Mexican Favorite

Restaurant: El Beso Cantina
Address: 3821 Farnham Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte:
Date of visit: 1/6/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing about my experience at another new halal restaurant. This time it is called El Beso Cantina. This is the fourth place to offer halal Mexican or Tex-Mex ONLY since 2015 (the others are Bullritos at UH, AlCaliente, and El Plato Caliente). I found out about this on Instagram, when someone I follow (not another Houston/halal food account) posted about this place. They had a "We Serve Zabiha Halal" sign right outside the building entrance. I messaged them on Facebook, and confirmed that they were halal. I got to try it when I was going out. After attending Friday prayers, I headed to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
This restaurant is located where 59 Diner used to be, and right next to The Halal Guys. I got inside, welcomed, and helped to a table. After asking for some extra time, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I asked what the popular items are, and they said anything. Then I had noticed where it said "Popular Items" and decided to order machaga. Machaga is basically shredded beef with migas. Migas are a popular Tex-Mex and Mexican dish that comprises of sauteed corn tortillas with eggs scrambled with onions and jalapenos topped with salsa and jack cheese. I also got free chips and salsa. I paid a total price of $10.83 (tax included). The waiting time was 11 minutes and 32 seconds.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/elbesocantinahouston/menu/?p_ref=pa&ref=page_internal
Would you believe that a place like this uses halal chicken and beef?! By the way, the pork is cooked separately, as I have confirmed via Facebook message for both. The best part? It's open 24 hours! This is the first halal place to be open 24 hours a day! So whether you want a midnight snack or just simply feel hungry and can't find a place to eat late at night, this is a place that you can try! They even do all day breakfast and have an overnight menu and have a huge variety of items ranging from pancakes and crepes to surf and turf to Mexican food. Special thanks to the snapchat use for sending me screenshots of the overnight menu!


Overnight menu Page 1

Overnight menu Page 2

Machaga with migas and refried beans. They also give two tortillas

The Verdict:
A very flawless meal. There was a lot of flavor in the food. only issue was that the salsa was a tad overpowering. Nonetheless, a very good meal. Food was washed down with water, and there were no complaints about the food.



Conclusion:
It's nice to see another halal Mexican place open up in Houston, and much nicer to see them offer more halal Mexican options than M&M Grill. I hope they stick around for a long time, and also succeed with the late night crowd. I definitely would come back and try more items.



Grading: 
Food: 8/10
Service; 8/10
Total: 16/20 = 80% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
El Beso Cantina
3801 Farnham Street, Houston, Texas
Phone: (832) 834-7157
Website: none
Timings: 24 Hours a Day Seven Days a Week
Caters: N/A

Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Monday, January 16, 2017

OMG Burger: Halal Burgers in Katy 2.0

Restaurant: OMG Burger
Address: 1230 North Mason Road, Katy, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/4/17


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my first review of 2017! Why not start it off with another brand new halal burger place? This time, the place is called OMG Burger. Yup, you read that right. There's actually a place in San Antonio that has the same "OMG" name, but it's completely different. I found out about it from an email that was sent to me. I got to give it a try when a couple of my friends hung out with me.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located near the I-10 intersection. It is located in one of the new strip malls. I then decided to order, before the friends came.



Let's Eat!
Before the friends came, I ordered the OMG! original burger. It's basically the classic cheeseburger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles but with the OMG sauce. My friends ordered the SMH burger which had pepper jack cheese, sauteed onions, bell peppers, and buffalo ranch sauce (normally it comes with just grilled chicken, but he added a beef patty), and a set of wings (barbacoa and sour pepper). I paid $11.98 (tax included) for my food (I got a Mexican Pepsi as well). Waiting time for mine was 8 minutes and 31 seconds.



Menu:
Everything here is zabiha halal. AND GMO free. AND antibiotic free. Which means that the meat is fresh. The prices are actually similar to Stanton's.

Page 1. Photo Credit: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/omg-burger-katy-2?select=WfMuYPEmycoga3SZ_C5Dwg

Page 2. Photo Credit: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/omg-burger-katy-2?select=F_WepXH0z1slTQELV814hg


Clockwise from top: barbacoa and sour pepper wings, the OMG Burger, and the customizzed SMH Burger

The Verdict:
The verdict is that it was a hit and miss. The miss was my burger. Could've been a LOT better. The seasoning in the patty was little to none. The hit was the barbacoa wings. Really tasty and had flavor. I had a bite of the SMH burger and it was better than the original. The sour pepper wings were too zesty for my liking. Finally, the fries could have used more salt or Cajun seasoning. Overall, one thumb down for the original burger, one thumb up for the barbacoa wings, and side thumbs for the rest.
No complaints about the service at all. The people were polite and courteous.



Conclusion:
While the original burger was disappointing, I wouldn't mind eating the barbacoa wings again. I hope they will put some seasoning on their patties on the next visit I make soon.



Grading:
Food: 6.5/10
Service: 8/10
Total: 14.5/20 = 72.5% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
OMG Burger
1230 North Mason Road, Katy, Texas
Phone: (281) 717-4545
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/omgburgertx/
Timings: Mon-Thu: 10:30 AM - 9:30 PM; Fri-Sat: 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 8 PM
Caters: no

Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Saturday, December 31, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: Crisp Doner Cafe: Not So Satisfactory Doners

Restaurant: Crisp Doner Cafe
Address: 2137 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/10/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! This will be a quick review. The last place I went in 2016 was a place that I had been anticipating for 6 months. It is called Crisp Doner Cafe. As an avid fan of doner kebap, I was eager to try this place out.



Let The Experience Begin!
It is located on highway 6 near the Memorial Drive intersection. The inside was very casual. You could see your food being made. I waited for 5 minutes and then ordered.



Let's Eat!
I decided to go away from the norm and try a classic doner footlong. The price was $10.81 (tax included). Waiting time was 7 minutes and 32 seconds.



Menu: This place mainly concentrates on doner, whether it's beef or chicken. Though the prices seem high, it's similar to the other Turkish places in town. Compared to the food truck, it had lower prices, but no combos.

Page 1

Page 2


Page 3



The Classic Doner Footlong

The Verdict:
Despite experimenting with it (putting one or both sauces inside the footlong), the doner was underwhelming. There was a lack in flavor. Couldn't they put in something like cheese like they did in their jalapeno sandwich? Anyways, the service was good. The people were really nice.



Conclusion:
Not the best doner I've ever had to be honest. I had something similar to this at Istanbul Grill and wasn't a fan at all. I'll try their wrap. If it's good, I'll come back, otherwise I would not recommend the place at all.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 15/20 = 75% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Crisp Doner Cafe
2137 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 506-7589
Website: http://www.crispdoner.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Crisp-Doner-Cafe-485118828295191/
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Unknown

Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Windy City Grill & Pizza: A Taste of Chicago in Montgomery County

Restaurant: Windy City Grill & Pizza
Address: 1500 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/2/16

UPDATE 3/20/17: The Reuben, as well as the corned beef and Pastrami sandwiches, have been removed from the menu. Makes me wonder why

Background:
Salam/hey guys! At long last, we're now at not only the first review of December, but also the penultimate review of 2016. The place is called Windy City Grill & Pizza. Like many times, I found out about this place on Facebook. I called them up, and they said that everything was halal. I got to go here before I took my car for service. I was really hungry since I had not eaten anything the whole day. Since I didn't have any time to try out new places after the Mai Colachi visit, it was a refreshing feeling to come to a new place and try the food and a new type of American cuisine. You see, the word "Windy City" indicates that the food served is food that is popular in Chicago. Normally, you would be expecting another deep dish place right? Well, you have to read further down to see what is really offered.



Let The Experience Begin!
Windy City Grill & Pizza is actually located in the strip mall on Holly Hill Drive just after Research Forest Drive. Inside, the walls had pictures of everything Chicago related. I got up to the counter, asked if everything was halal just to make sure, and then proceeded to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Reuben on rye sandwich. The reason? I've always wanted to try pastrami and corned beef. In fact, this is the first place in the Houston area to offer pastrami and corned beef. The reuben is basically pastrami and corned beef along with sauerkraut on rye bread. It came with fries, coleslaw, and dressings. I paid $10.77 (tax included).



Menu: http://www.windycitygrillandpizza.com/menu
While D'Marcos in Sugar Land has deep dish as its specialty, this place focuses on other Chicago specialties. They have the Italian beef sandwich, a sandwich that originated in Chicago and is now a staple in Chicago cuisine, the Chicago dog, all-beef hot dog with relish, onions, sport peppers, dill pickle, tomatoes, and a special spice topped with mustard on a poppy seed bun (don't put ketchup on it), and a stuffed cannonball burger. Based on Yelp pics, the pizza seems to not use the deep dish style.


The Reuben Sandwich with fris, coleslaw, and dressing

The Verdict:
Pretty good I must say for a Reuben first timer. Everything else was good as well. No complaints about the service and they didn't seem annoyed when I asked them about having halal food.



Conclusion:
If I were to dine in the Woodlands again, I would stick to coming here. The food was good enough for me to give this place another try. I hope to try their pizza, Chicago dog, or the Italian beef sandwich the next few times I come.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 7.5/10
Total: 15.5/20 = 77.5% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Windy City Grill & Pizza
1500 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas
Phone: (281) 651-5194
Website: http://www.windycitygrillandpizza.com/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/windy.city16/
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 11 AM - 8 PM
Caters: Unknown

Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers and Happy New Year!
Zain Mohammed

Quick Review: Mai Colachi: Hits and Misses Amidst the Ambiance

Restaurant: Mai Colachi
Address: 13849 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/29/16

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about my experience at a high end Pakistani restaurant called Mai Colachi. This is actually the second high end Pakistani place that I have visited since moving from Saudi. I wanted to try this place because I wanted to see if it was able to be like the ones that I used to enjoy in Saudi. What also got me interested was that the chef of the original Kolachi restaurant moved right here to the Houston area to become the executive chef at Mai Colachi. The time came for me to try the place when my family was invited to a party. This wasn't food catered specifically for the party. It was just a large gathering at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Mai Colachi is located near the 59 and Sugar Creek/Dairy Ashford Drive intersection. The inside was pretty fancy and very dark as well. The ambiance was really nice. After everyone was seated, it was time to eat!



Let's Eat!
The host ordered for us a variety of dishes. We got khatti daal, karahi mutton, karahi chicken (both of which I am assuming to be the Colachi karahi), naan, and keemari jeengha karahi. To wait, we just sat and talked.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Colachi.US/menu/?p_ref=pa
Pretty fancy if you ask me. This isn't your typical hole-in-the-wall or mom-and-pop Pakistani places. Prices are pretty high compared to the other Pakistani places, but it's a higher end place. They have steak as well (though I wonder if they would do any other temperature than well done), and interestingly Jujeh kabab.


Clockwise from top left: Colachi chicken karahi, khate daal, Colachi muttom karahi, keemari jeengha karahi, and naan

The Verdict:
I really liked how the food was presented. They bring the pan that is used to cook the food. Anyways, out of the food items, I enjoyed the shrimp, mutton, and naan. Lots of flavor in the karahis and the naan was nice and fluffy. The daal was just ok, but the chicken was the least favorite. There was little to no salt in the chicken karahi. All the food was washed with water, and there were no complaints of the service.



Conclusion:
Despite the chicken and daal failing to impress, I certainly wouldn't mind coming and trying these items again as well as trying their tikka and kabab. This is a pretty good place for you guys to go to if it's a special occasion or just want to try some high end Pakistani food.



Grading:
Food: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Total: 15.5/20 = 77.5% (C)
Pricing: $$$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Mai Colachi
13849 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas
Phone: (281) 240-0786
Website:  none
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Colachi.US/
Timings: Mon-Thu & Sun: 11:30 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11:30 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed