Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zato Thai- A Halal Restaurant in Montgomery County

Restaurant: Zato Thai
Address: 421 Sawdust Road, The Woodlands, Texas 77380
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of Visit: 1/6/15


Photo Credit: http://woodlandsevents.com/images/stories/dining/zato-thai.png

Background: 
Salam/hey guys! I am back after a while! Today I will be reviewing Zato Thai in The Woodlands. This is the first time I am reviewing a halal restaurant in Montgomery County. All Houston Metro counties except Waller, Liberty, and Chambers have at least one halal restaurant. I was in the Woodlands because I was hanging out with one of my best friends from high school. After playing FIFA 14, we were hungry, and were eager to go and try a restaurant before we went bowling. Initially, I was planning on going to a sushi place, but it was expensive. Then I thought of Thai, since I wasn't able to try Noodle Wave when I was in Dallas. He agreed on that. After the smooth 10 minute ride, we arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located in the big strip mall that is near I-45. The ambiance was really nice. It was like a normal diner. We got a table for 3, since one more person was coming to hang out. While waiting for him, we ordered the food.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the beef Pad Thai, while my friend went with the Thai Fried Rice. When the other friend came, he ordered the corn patties. To drink, I had a Diet Pepsi while the others had water. The waiting time was good at 11 minutes and 24 seconds.



Once you click the link, you will have to choose which part of the menu you want to see. They have regular Thai food, like the curries, the noodles, and the fried rice. There is pork on the menu, but the people assured me that  that they have halal meat available and they cook it separately.




Beef Pad Thai


Chicken Thai Fried Rice


Corn Patties


The Verdict:
The Pad Thai was decent, but not as great as Anothai to be very honest. The corn patties were really good, and this is coming from a guy that isn't really a big corn fan. My friend really liked his Thai Fried rice. Overall, one thumb up.
The service was good. I really appreciate their honesty regarding the halal status. This makes me confident that the business is being truthful in their practices.



Conclusion:
Zato Thai is a good addition to the halal food scene. I hope there will be more halal restaurants in Montgomery county in the future. But if you want the best Thai restaurant in town, then I would suggest you make the drive to Anothai.



Grading: 
Service: 9/10
Food: 7.5/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Total: 26.5/30 = 88.3% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Zato Thai
421 Sawdust Road, The Woodlands, Texas 77380
Phone: (281) 419-7619
Website: http://www.zatowoodlands.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zato-Thai-Restaurant/167158783464811
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 3 PM and 5 PM - 10 PM; Fri: 11 AM - 3 PM and 5 PM - 11 PM; Sat: Noon - 11 PM; Sun: Noon - 10 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Saravanaa Bhavan- A First For This Blog

Restaurant: Saravanaa Bhavan
Address: 8604 North MacArthur Boulevard, Irving, Texas 75063
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/2/2015



Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ee/Logo_saravana.jpg



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing my first restaurant visit of the new year: Saravanaa Bhavan. And by the pic, it is clear that in the blog full of juicy meat comes something new. That's right! We are going vegetarian for today. Usually Indian restaurants typically feature vegetarian and non-vegetarian food? This restaurant specializes in vegetarian food. Now let me tell you something about vegetarian food. There is always a high possibility that a vegetarian restaurant would be an Indian restaurant. This is because India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world, and a good number of them reside elsewhere in the world. The vegetarians got their food with them, and Indian vegetarian food is enjoyed elsewhere in the world. Saravanaa Bhavan is a restaurant chain that specializes in vegetarian food from South India. It was founded in 1981, and has locations in Chennai, Delhi, Nairobi, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Paris, Frankfurt, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Kuwait, Muscat, Saudi Arabia (Dammam and Riyadh), Doha, Bahrain, four locations in the UK, Toronto, Northern California, New Jersey, New York City, and Houston ( 8350 Westheimer Rd). This is very similar to Paradise Biryani point, which is an Indian restaurant chain that specializes in biryani. While the latter failed to impress in being "The Best Biryani in USA", this one claims to be "A Chain Of High Quality Vegetarian Restaurants". So how did a meat person like me end up eating at a vegetarian restaurant? Well, it's simple. My mom and two aunts are huge fans of vegetarian food. They simply decided at the last minute that we should drive down to Irving from Allen (north of Plano) to eat there. So 14 people got into 2 vans and left to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
The distance to the restaurant from my aunt's house was 29.3 miles. That sets a new record for most miles driven to a restaurant in a single metro area. The record all time was a staggering 151 miles from my uncle's house in North Olmstead, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, to Dearborn, Michigan in 2013. When we got there, it was PACKED. In fact, it was so packed that the waitress told us initially that they were not able to accommodate for 14 people! Then the problem was solved when the people were asked to move to another table in a good manner. The people obliged. My aunt had ordered masala dosas (lentils and rice crepe suffed with mildly spiced mashed potatoes and onions) and regular dosas (non-stuffed lentils and rice crepes) for my 11 year old, 6 year old, and 9 year old cousins. After getting our table, we got menus and went through the menu.



Let's Eat!
Everyone in the group either ordered dosas or thalis. They ordered idlis (rice and black lentils cake) to go with their dishes. I went ahead and ordered the veggie pulao (milder version of biryani), which also came with raita. The average price per person was roughly $10-11, which was great considering that there were 14 people in the group including me. We got our food fast. Within 30 minutes, we all got our food. Now here is why I have ordered something no one else had ordered. Ever since the days of living in Saudi, I loved trying different things. There were some things I thought looked disgusting, but it turned out to be amazing. One clear example was broccoli. When I had visited New York, I was literally forced to try it. To this day, I am thankful that I had tried it, and now I would get it whenever I get a chance to. There were also some things I loved as a kid but stopped eating as I grew older. The prime example was plain sugar. I would eat it to the point that my mom had to hide it so that I wouldn't see it. Now, I just pass by a jar of sugar whenever I see it. Regarding idlis and dosas, I have tried it many times (most recent = August) and I still do not like the taste. I honestly find them to be very sour to my liking. I strongly dislike the mashed potato and onions. But does that mean I hate Indian vegetarian cuisine in general? No. You will see below.



Menu: http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/13-dallas-fort-worth/restaurants/1718697-saravana-bhavan/menu
As you can see in the menu, idlis and dosas do not define the entire vegetarian cuisine of India. Vegetarian cuisine is widespread in India, since there are vegetarians and non-vegetarians in every major city in India. Believe it or not, there are many vegetarian dishes on the menu that I absolutely love. Examples include Aloo Gobi, and anything that doesn't have paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or baignan (eggplant/aubergine). Why did I not have these before? Because the huge meat fanatic inside me prevented me from going to vegetarian restaurants, and many of the restaurants I have been to rarely have any vegetarian options. It is good to see that all the vegetarian dishes from India are included in the menu.



The Vegetable Pulao


The Verdict:
So how did the meat-eater like me find this dish? Well, it was absolutely delicious! The rice was perfectly cooked and spiced. The raita was also phenomenal. The food was washed down with a glass of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
The best thing about the service was that the food came out very quickly even though we were a party of 14 and the restaurant was packed. The people were also really nice.



Conclusion:
If you have any vegetarian friends in Dallas, then Saravanaa Bhavan is a perfect place to take them! They have really good food and the people are nice. I will definitely review more vegetarian restaurants in the future.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Total: 28/30 = 93.3% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Saravanaa Bhavan
8604 North MacArthur Boulevard, Irving, Texas 75063
Phone: (972) 506-7755
Website: http://saravanabhavan.com/
Facebook: None
Timings: Mon-Fri: 11:30 AM - 3 PM and 5:30 PM - 10 PM; Sat and Sun- 11 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes


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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grand Cafe- A nice way to end 2014

Restaurant: Grand Cafe
Address: 1887 North Plano Street, Richardson, Texas 75081
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/31/14



Photo Credit: http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/dmERBzMBx8odfzx0l1I2CA/ls.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys, and a happy new year! I will be in Dallas until either Friday or Sunday. The first review for 2015 will be of Grand Cafe. We went here on my uncle's recommendation. This was also convenient for us because we had been grocery shopping, going to all sorts of different places in Richardson. We decided going here after he had picked up his passport to fly to Saudi to perform Umrah. He told me that he loved this place when he had visited there. After the passports were picked up, we headed for the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Grand Cafe is located in a strip mall next to a gas station just after the intersection at East Campbell Road. Inside, there was booth seating and normal table seating. On top there were shishas displayed, which implied that they also serve shisha (if they don't, please comment below or email me at zain.mohammed93@gmail.com). I usually don't review places that serve shisha because after a trip to Fatoush for takeout back in Houston, my throat started swelling, even though I didn't smoke. This means that I have an allergic reaction to shisha. Sitting outside was ruled out for two reasons: it was 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1.11 Celsius) and there was no outside seating! The very friendly people welcomed us, and we immediately consulted the menu.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Philly Cheesesteak, while my uncle ordered the Philly Chicken. We paid an amazing price of $14.05 (tax included). To drink, we got water. The waiting time was 10 minutes and 45 seconds.



Menu: The menu is a great value for the buck. Nothing on the menu is over $10 except the grand platter and the grand veggie platter. So if you are a college student, this can be a place where you can eat.



Platters, Veggie Platters, Mediterranean Sandwiches and American Sandwiches. Photo Credit: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/grand-cafe-richardson?select=zys4uJbLcHWWgAROPkoxCA#DhNv_3uoGfVLdiyYfl0NMw


Salad Platters & Soup, Kids Meal, Side Orders, Deserts (*Desserts), and Beverages. Photo Credit: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/grand-cafe-richardson?select=zys4uJbLcHWWgAROPkoxCA#zys4uJbLcHWWgAROPkoxCA


Philly Cheesesteak and Fries



The Verdict:
My uncle was spot on. This place had excellent food! There was slightly more bread than meat, but the taste was phenomenal once the meat was tasted. My uncle also enjoyed his Philly Chicken. The fries were cooked perfectly, not too soggy, and not too crispy. The food was washed down with a glass of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was very good too. The people in the restaurant were very nice! They always smiled, and they had a wonderful conversation with us about life. It felt like it was a great place to socialize and eat some really delicious food. In family run restaurants, it is important that the people get along with the employees and the customers. This restaurant did both.



Conclusion:
If you are on a budget and want some good food in Richardson, then this place is perfect for you. The people are very nice, and they are willing to help you and make you feel welcome. I would definitely recommend this place.



Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Total: 29/30 = 96.7% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Grand Cafe
1887 North Plano Street, Richardson, Texas 75081
Phone: (972) 231-7400
Website: none
Facebook: None
Timings: Mon-Fri: 10:45 AM - 9:30 PM; Sat: 10:45 AM - 10:30 PM; Sun: 1 PM - 9:30 PM
Caters: Yes



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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dona Mary- A Halal Authentic Mexican Place In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex

Restaurant: Dona Mary
Address: 2200 Los Rios Boulevard, Plano, Texas 75074
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of VisitL 12/26/14



Photo Credit: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/04/14/dd/07/dona-mary-not-the-greatest.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! I am right now in Dallas writing this up. What does that mean? It means for the first time, I will be reviewing at more than three restaurants per trip. Ever since I started this blog, I have been going to a maximum of three restaurants in each specific city (only exception = trip to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit in 2013). Even on my last trip to Dallas in December 2013, I only went to 3 restaurants. So this 4th restaurant I am going is Dona Mary (pronounced "Donya Mary"). I found out about this on zabihah.com while I was actually looking for a place to try out. I figured that I would try this place because I had been longing to eat some Mexican food ever since the whole M&M grill fiasco. M&M did have some great Mexican food. I was a big fan of their chimichanga and their enchiladas. Dona Mary is regarded to have excellent Mexican food in all of Plano. Initially I was going to Noodle Wave in McKinney, but my uncle said no to Thai food since he doesn't like it at all (Believe it or not I am the only person in my entire family who actually enjoys Thai food). We also had a time constraint because we had to go for Friday prayers and a Nikah (declaration of marriage). So after doing some quick shopping in Costco off US 75, we went to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Dona Mary is located at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Los Rios Boulevard in East Plano. From the outside, it looks like a hole-in-the-wall place. When we went, the strip mall looked deserted. But inside, it was lively. There was a TV playing along with Mexican music. We confirmed the halal status. They told us that the fajita style beef and chicken was halal, and that they cooked the food separately. After this was told, we sat down and looked through the menu.



Let's Eat!
We first confirmed once again that the only halal things are the beef and chicken cut in fajita style. I then decided to order the Huarache Mexicano, while my uncle ordered the chicken skillet. A huarache is basically a masa oval shaped tortilla topped with many ingredients. In this one, the huarache is topped with steak, bell peppers, grilled onions, ranchero salsa, and cheese). For the chicken skillet, it came with refried beans, pico de gallo, spanish rice, avocado, and tortillas. He ordered the corn tortillas. To drink, I got one of my favorite sodas: the Mexican Coke (Only Coke product I drink), while my uncle just got water after passing up the same drink as me (he has an addiction to it, since it is so good). We paid roughly $25 (tax included). the waiting time was 12 minutes and 13 seconds. To wait for the food, we got some free chips and salsa



Menu (click to view): Menu Page 1Menu Page 2
Unlike the other Mexican places I have been to, you have the option of getting other Mexican items along with the popular burritos, tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas. Now here are some terms and its definitions. Gorditas = cakes made with masa (dough) stuffed with mainly meats, cheese, and vegetables) Sopes = circle of masa of ground maze topped with refried beans, meats and vegetables. They even have breakfast items! Finally, THEY HAVE TAMALES!! The best part about this is that they have a separate halal cooking area for their entire menu, even though their barbacoa is not halal and they sell pork. I would suggest you ask whether the halal meat can be used on any of the breakfast items, since the other parts of the menus allow you to choose the halal beef/chicken. If they say yes, then ONLY order the beef and/or chicken after requesting halal. If not, just order vegetarian. Now, if you do order anything vegetarian, YOU MUST STILL REQUEST HALAL TO AVOID CROSS-CONTAMINATION. Mexico, like most of Latin America, has an insane infatuation for anything related to pork, so most places would likely cook everything in lard. If you are still unsure of the halal status, the people will be more than happy to help you out. 



Chips and Salsa


The Chicken Skillet


Spanish rice, refried beans, pico de gallo, and avocado


Huarache Mexicano. The tortillas are in the very cute sombrero




The Verdict:
One word: fantastic. Even my uncle, who barely eats anything that's not Indian/Pakistani, even enjoyed the place. The masa was stuffed with refried beans. The management said that the refried beans were made separately and without any pork or lard. The huarache was also very fantastic. Everything on the plate tasted very well. The cheese had a lot of goo in it, and the meat was cooked perfectly. After eating this, I was stuffed. The food was washed down with a bottle of Mexican Coke. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was phenomenal. The restaurant people were very friendly, and they took their time to help us through the entire menu, telling us what the Mexican dishes meant and what items were halal or not.



Conclusion:
If I had lived in Dallas, then I would most definitely be a regular here! I would also recommend this place for someone who is looking for something that is halal, but not Indian/Pakistani. I will definitely make another visit here the next time I visit Dallas, if time permits.



Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Total: 29/30 = 96.7% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Dona Mary
2200 Los Rios Boulevard, Plano, Texas 75074
Phone: (972) 422-6402
Website: None
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonaMary.Antojitos
Timings: Mon-Thu: 8 AM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 8 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 8 AM - 7 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Saturday, December 20, 2014

King's Chicken- A Desi Restaurant with a Nice Ambiance

Restaurant: King's Chicken
Address: 2209 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas 77077
Buffet or a-la-carte: Buffet
Date of visit: 12/18/14


Photo Credit: http://s3-media4.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/Ze_0RKqGvI5e7UuIWIwWEg/ls.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! After a long time, I am reviewing another restaurant in the same week! Last Tuesday, I reviewed Thai Choice. Today, I am reviewing King's Chicken. I first heard of King's Chicken when I was in high school. The original owners had sold their biryani and fried chicken after the Friday Prayers at the mosque my dad and I used to go to. Then all of a sudden, they disappeared. Their food was really good though. Many years later, I found out that there were new owners, and that they have completely changed the restaurant. The biggest change was that they no longer sold fried chicken. Makes me wonder why they still kept the name. The time came for me to try when I got a call from my father saying that we should meet up for lunch here while I was at UH collecting my belongings from my locker at the campus recreation and wellness center (a.k.a. the gym). He told me that he was on limited time, and that he is a frequent customer at the restaurant. Thankfully, it took me less than 3 minutes to get my stuff. After taking detours, since 45 was shut down at Allen Parkway due to a major accident, I arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
King's Chicken is located right across Highway 6 from Great Khan Mongolian Grill. Like from the entrance, you can see the big letters indicating that Great Khan is located there. From the outside, the restaurant looked very small, and very average looking. However, once you get inside, you feel as if you are at some fine dining place. The only other Indian/Pakistani places that had such great ambiance were Mayuri on Westheimer, and Marhaba Restaurant back in Al Khobar. Everything was shining, and soothing restaurant music was playing. The tables were laid, similar to how many fine dining places do so. After meeting with my dad and my friend, who is my dad's colleague, it was time to eat.



Let's Eat!
We went for the lunch buffet. The buffet spread was separated into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections. I opted for the non-vegetarian selections. The selections available were: chicken biryani, chicken karahi, tandoori chicken, butter chicken, seekh kabab, and lamb rogan josh. We all got naan and water. When I went up to get the food, the food was piping hot, and I could hear the chefs cooking the buffet food. My dad also got takeout biryani for my family, since my mom was not feeling well.



Menu (click to view): I am surprised that a restaurant of this caliber doesn't have a website. Anyways, this restaurants features dishes that are popular in both India and Pakistan. The pricing is very reasonable

Appetizers

Rice Dishes

Tandoori

Chicken Curries (I)

Chicken curries (II), goat and lamb curries

Seafood and Vegetables (I); (sorry if it is crooked. It just wouldn't stay still!)

Vegetables, naan, and desserts

Desserts and Beverages

The Buffet spread

The Verdict: 
This buffet, like most I have been to in Houston, had hits and misses. The hits were the seekh kabab and the butter chicken. The seekh kabab was cooked perfectly and was full of flavor. The butter chicken was very creamy. The downs were the chicken karahi, and the Tandoori chicken. The tandoori chicken could have been much better, and the karahi had very little taste. The rest of the items tasted decently. My father liked the food, while his colleague agreed that the Tandoori chicken could have been much better. My mom and sister liked the biryani, but said that it was not as good as Khan BBQ's (Idk why). The naan kept coming in, and each time the naan was very fluffy and tasty. One thing that I will point out is that unlike many other Indian/Pakistani places, the karahi was not oily at all! This makes it easier to eat all the food and minimize the waste. The food was washed down with refilled glasses of water.
The service was ok. Nothing to praise or criticize. We just ate, paid, and left.



Conclusion: 
The new management of King's Chicken is doing a decent job. I have two tips for them: change the name of the restaurant. King's Chicken was originally named because it would sell fried chicken along with Indian/Pakistani food. Also, the phrase "King's Chicken" is analogous to "Church's Chicken" or "Hartz's Chicken). Had I been asked to suggest the name, I would name it "Baadshah" (King in Urdu). But in the end, the decision whether to change the restaurant name or not is entirely up to the management, and I will respect their decision. Their biryani gets a pass, along with the rogan josh. But in all honesty, if I were to choose between here and Maharajah, then I would pick Maharajah because of the latter's consistency in the taste of their food. However, if at all I come back here with my dad, then I would order something off the menu.



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



Restaurant Information:
King's Chicken
2209 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas 77077
Phone: (281) 498-2900
Website: None
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 10:30 PM
Caters: Yes


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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thai Choice- Another Halal Thai Option in Town

Restaurant: Thai Choice
Address: 11161 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of Visit: 12/16/14

Photo Credit:http://places2.assets.gotime.com/cc639b9cbe982fc9c7e2de2decd5538c64e71933_l.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! After nearly a whole month of preparing for finals I am back! Now let me tell you something. There was something that I had never seen before. The last restaurant I visited was El Greco near UH. The food was good, but there was a major problem. Shortly after going there, I decided to check up on them and ask whether they cook it separately or not by surprise. Why is it a surprise? Because cooking halal meat separately is a fundamental of properly preparing halal meat. The prime examples of this are Stanton's and Elevation Burger. They make sure that the haram meat is separate from the halal meat. It turned out that they DON'T cook it separately. I tried to contact them via Facebook, but they just ignored me. Thus, I have decided to not put their review. Another thing that has happened is that my parents are desperately trying to limit me from eating out. They feel that eating out is not good for me, and that I should only stick to home food. Nonetheless, a friend had said that we would hang out, but at the last minute, he had something come up, so he couldn't make it. So it was just me. After battling through rush hour traffic, and nearly ending up at a wrong place. I arrived at the restaurant



Let The Experience Begin!
Thai Choice is located at the intersection of Westheimer and Wilcrest. The place looked deserted at night; even the inside was empty except for one table. I confirmed that the food was halal, and they even had the halal certificate hanging. After getting some water, I looked through the menu.



Let's Eat!
I ordered something that I have longed to try: Roast duck. I confirmed with the waiter about the halal status of the duck. He said that the duck is also halal. This concludes the end of my quest to eat duck.
Many of the halal duck places are located in Sugar Land, which is far from both my house and UH. I was really excited as I wanted to try it ever since I started this food blog.  There were four spice levels available: mild, spicy, very spicy, and Thai spicy. I took Thai spicy. Normally when I go to non Indian/Pakistani places, I like to eat the things that are popular in a specific country. For example, if I go to a Greek restaurant, I would get a souvlaki as they are a really popular in Greece, or if I go to a Turkish restaurant, I would either get Iskender or a mixed grill, since kebaps and doner meats are popular in Turkey. In Thai cuisine, many of the meats can be rotated. For example, Pad Thai and many other curries can be enjoyed with either chicken, beef, or even tofu. I paid $20.51 (Tax included). The waiting time was 9 minutes and 33 seconds



Menu: http://thaichoicehouston.com/Menu_2.php
This restaurant's menu is very similar to Anothai's on FM 1960. You have your usual curries, noodle and rice dishes, soups, and appetizers. One thing that makes Thai Choice stand out is that you don't have popular Chinese dishes such as kung pao chicken and teriyaki. Another way this stands out over Anothai is that their duck is actually halal. Last time I went, I was told that the duck is not halal. Thankfully however they cook it separately. With the exception of the duck and seafood dishes, the pricing is very good. They even have a lunch menu, where your entree comes with Jasmine rice, egg roll, and soup



The Halal Certificate. Waiter assured me the duck is also from here

Fork and Jasmine rice on the roasted duck and vegetables. Notice the brown texture of the duck.





The Roasted Duck itself


The Verdict:
So how would I describe the long wait to eat duck? Well, it was absolutely worth it! The duck was very crisp, but it had a lot of taste! The duck tasted a lot like chicken, but with crisp!  The vegetables were tasty, but the sauce could do better in terms of taste. The Jasmine rice was nice and fresh. I was actually able to withstand the heat from the spices. Overall, one thumb up.
The service was good. The waiter was very nice. I saw him communicate with other customers, and he was smiling all the time. And unlike El Greco, he did not back away when I confirmed the halal status of this restaurant.



Conclusion:
Thai Choice is a decent place to dine if you want some halal Thai in town. Their food is nearly identical to Anothai's. I would definitely be back and try other things like Pad Thai and their red curry.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 8.5/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 26.5/30 = 88.3% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Thai Choice
11161 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Phone: (713) 780-8323
Website: http://thaichoicehouston.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thai-Choice-Restaurant/691439794202883
Timings: Mon-Fri: 11 AM - 3 PM and 5 PM - 10 PM; Sat-Sun: 12 PM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes


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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Friday, November 14, 2014

NOT HALAL: Hungry Farmer BBQ- Taste of Texas Halal Style

Restaurant: Hungry Farmer BBQ
Address: 8222 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas 77037
Buffet or a-la-carte: Neither
Date of visit: 11/14/14

Photo Credit: https://plus.google.com/109918338473848315402/about

UPDATE 1/3/2015: Got a message from them on Facebook saying that they are no longer serving halal meat due to "unforeseen circumstances"

ORIGINAL POST:

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing something that I wanted to occur ever since I started this blog: HALAL BBQ! Not just any BBQ, legit Texas BBQ. Yes, the one like they do at world-renowned Franklin's BBQ in Austin, with the ribs and brisket drenched in tangy BBQ sauce and also potato salad and coleslaw. Their brisket is actually zabiha halal, but you have to wait in a long line in order to get the food. Plus I myself am 160 miles away from it. When I found out that this place serves halal meat, I immediately made it a point to try this place out. It was difficult to get money for this, because I no longer have a credit card. The time came to try when I had a few hours to kill before I had my class right after Jummah prayer. Ever since I got the all clear from my sister (we share the car). I set off for the restaurant. 



Let The Experience Begin!
Now let me warn you, this place in not in a good area of town, so I strongly advise you to go before sunset. By not good area, I mean near Acres' Homes. The drive there is also really bad. The reason? 45. No introduction needed to how horrible driving on that highway is, from construction to accidents to rush hour traffic. Anything related to 45 between the Tollway and 610 is horrible. I took 45 from 610 after passing downtown on 59. Then you exit Airline Drive and drive for 3 miles until you reach the restaurant. The restaurant is very similar to the ones that you see while driving from Houston to either Dallas or San Antonio. I was expecting that you order and they would cook it for you. WRONG! It is cafeteria style like Fadi's. When I asked the people about halal, they had no idea what it was. I was shocked. After being excited and anticipating finally trying the food that is very popular in Texas, they had no idea what I was talking about. I tried calling them, they were really rude. But then I messaged them on Facebook. They said that I should see Mike. I went back inside and asked for him. He turned out to be the most pleasant person inside the whole restaurant. He told me that the beef ribs, the brisket, the chicken, and the beef sausage were halal.



Let's Eat!
I ended up getting the ribs plate. I already had brisket at Artis La Bonne (which sadly closed down) so I decided to get another another cut of meat a try. I took the ribs,since I had brisket before at Artis La Bonne (which closed down sadly). For the sides, I got potato salad, coleslaw, and beans that were offered by Mike. To drink, I just got water. The ribs cost $9.95 + tax. Since this is a cafeteria style place, the food is served instantly to you.



Menu: http://imgur.com/a/CngX3
This place also serves pork and alcohol, but they are cooked separately. The spoons in the serving area are used separate. For cafeteria style food, the halal meat looked appealing, but some of the sides didn't. The prices are really good. You get a lot of food for the buck.



The Ribs with BBQ sauce, beans, potato salad, and coleslaw



The Verdict:
The long wait was totally worth it. Despite the mess up earlier, the food was really delicious. The BBQ sauce had a lot of flavor. The ribs were very tender, and it had a really good taste. The potato salad was very delicious and well-balanced. The coleslaw could be less watery. I had honestly never seen ribs this big (I've eaten ribs only once) before. In fact, it was really filling, and at the end, I was completely stuffed. The food was washed down with water. Overall, two thumbs up.



Conclusion:
One major thing that should happen is that Mike should tell the other employees about the select meats being halal. I will definitely be back to try the other meats. 



Grading:
Service: 7/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: N/A
Total: 16/20 = 80% (B)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Hungry Farmer BBQ
8222 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas 77037
Phone: (281) 931-0220
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hungryfarmerbbq
Timings: Mon-Thu & Sun: 10:30 AM - 8:30 PM; Fri-Sat: 10:30 AM - 9:30 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed