Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Zayed's Mediterranean Grill: Long Kababs, and Great Food

Restaurant: Zayed's Mediterranean Grill
Address: 797 Sorella Court (CityCentre), Houston, TX
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/14/18



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing about my experience at the first halal spot in the popular CityCentre shopping area: Zayed's Mediterranean Grill. Honestly, it was about time a halal spot pops up in that area. I got invited to a food blogger event by the restaurant (and no I did not get paid), where they would be bringing out food to try. Let's just say that I am thankful that the restaurant invited me. After bidding adieu to my family, I set off for the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located in the heart of CityCentre. I was directed to a room, where I met a few foodies, and the pictures commenced! I then took a little tour of the kitchen. The most significant things I saw were an automatic shawarma meat cutter, which may be the future of shawarma serving. But the main highlight of the tour was the long skewers of shish kabob that were on the grill. It was without a doubt the longest skewer of kabab I've ever seen. EVER. After the tour, it was ready to eat.



Let's Eat!
So the meats we had were: kafta, chicken kafta, shish tawook, and beef tenderloin. There was also  spicy hummus, baba ghanoush, tabuli, different salads, and cheesebread. I got them to do a special request for me, which was to fold it.



Menu: http://zayedsgrill.com/menu/
Zayed's runs a lot like Fadi's and Aladdin: a variety of meats with options of adding sides and dips. The prices were ok.



Regular hummus, salad, and baba ghanoush

Two salads, tabuli, and the spicy hummus

The long skewers on the grill

A perspective of the setup. All the side dishes are at the bottom

A shot of the actual kababs

Another perspective. Please disregard the man giving me the finger in the pic. Stay classy thatboyasad

Folded cheese bread
The Verdict:
Food was fantastic. Everyone enjoyed every kabab that was offered. They also give bread, which was baked fresh. Bread went very well with the kababs. The cheesebread was fantastic as well. So cheesy. Food was washed down with a craft cola drink (forgot the name, but it was good; I'm kinda a cola connoisseur tbh).



Conclusion:
It's nice to see a place pop up in a popular area of town that is both halal and really tasty. I'll definitely be back for more visits.



Grading:
Food: 9/10 (no service due to the fact that this was an event hosted by the restaurant)
Total: 9/10 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Zayed's Mediterranean Grill
Address: 797 Sorella Court (CityCentre), Houston, TX
Phone: (713) 984-8383
Instagram: zayedsgrill
Timings: Sun-Fri: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sat: 11 AM - 11 PM
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dasman Street Bistro: They've Come a Long Way

Food Truck: Dasman Street Bistro
Address: various all over Houston, TX
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/10/18



Background:
 أسلام عليكم / hello guys! Today I will be writing about a place that has, for the first time in a while, has actually redeemed themselves. The place? Dasman. Dasman first started out as a food truck selling Mediterranean favorites such as shawarmas and kababs along with NYC platters. Their food looked really promising. But when I had tried it during Super Bowl weekend, it didn't taste that good, and I had to fork out $10 for a portion that was literally in the same thing that many places use to put fries. The other platter places gave generous portions for cheaper prices. Fast forward one year, and I see them pop up as an entirely new concept. Couple of people posted about the place, and the most striking thing is that they completely changed from Mediterranean to primarily American. They even painted their truck in different colors. So I made it a point to check them out ASAP.
I got to try it before heading to a ramen place for a birthday party (gotta get my halal food fix before heading there and eating light since the ramen portions there are huge; also, there should be a halal ramen place in the future). I had some time after work to try it. So I called one of my best friends, where he agreed to meet up since he was interested in trying the food after seeing the posts.



Let The Experience Begin!
First thing, they change locations regularly. So you have to follow them. They are the most active on Instagram; their handle is dasmanfood. Based on their post, they were at Kirby Ice House. While the name may raise a red flag for some, they actually have food trucks rotating at the place in the outside area. While the truck was outside, you had to go through the restaurant to get there. The person knew me from a tasting event I went at their sister truck: Crispy or Grilled. My friend wanted a burger, so I waited for him to decide and then ordered.



Let's Eat!
I ordered their Brisket fries: fries topped with brisket, BBQ sauce, cheese, and spicy mayo. The brisket is sourced from the folks at Lit BBQ. How's that for a gourmet fries dish? My friend ordered the California Sunshine Burger, which is a patty topped with guacamole, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The price? $20. $9 for the brisket fries and $11 for the burger. Waiting time was about 12 minutes. To wait, we just sat on reclining chairs and caught up on life.



Menu: It's a small menu for now. It's dominant with burgers. The only other option besides the burgers and the brisket fries is Korean beef tacos. It is likely that once their business gets its stride (they're only a few weeks old), they will expand on their menu, just like what had happened at Crispy or Grilled with the introduction of chicken cones. The prices are similar to Stanton's, and everything here is certified halal.



Logo. Their truck is blue



The Small Menu


Brisket Fries. Definitely a Generous Portion

The Verdict:
For the first time since Kasra back in 2014, a restaurant has actually redeemed themselves. Dasman's chicken over rice I had last year did not match up to its competitors. But the brisket fries were out of this world. The sauces perfectly complimented the brisket. I enjoyed Lit BBQ's brisket when they used to hang out in Spring, so it was nice to enjoy them again. Service was great. The people were incredibly nice.



Conclusion:
Dasman is worth checking out. But, you must follow them actively on social media in order to get information on where they will be and what times they will operate, which is the case for the majority of popular food trucks. Once you check them out, you'll definitely enjoy them.



Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 9/10
Total: 19/20 = 95% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Dasman Food
Various locations in Houston, TX
Phone: (832) 998-5955
Website: none
Facebook: (their old name) - https://www.facebook.com/DasmanfoodHTX/
Instagram: dasmanfood
Timings: Varies
Caters: N/A

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Twisted Turban: A New Kind of Fusion

Restaurant: Twisted Turban
Address: 2832 S Texas 6 (Hwy 6 and Richmond), Houston, TX
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/1/18


Background:

Salam/hey guys! New year, new review! This is a trip to a place that was voted by my followers on Instagram: Twisted Turban. I did a few polls about where I should do my first review of 2018, and this place got the most votes. I had a few hours remaining before I had to head to the mosque for an event, so I decided to give this place a try. Twisted turban opened up on 22nd December to rave reviews. Ironically, I had received a lot of requests to give this place a try. Twisted Turban introduces a fusion that is new to the city as well as myself: Tex-Indian. It’s basically Tex (or Tex-Mex) and Indian combined together. An interesting combo as this is a first for me, and for the city. I had some time off before meeting one of my best friends that was here on vacation from medical school in Philadelphia. So I made the drive from Cypress to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!

The place is located on Highway 6 and Richmond Avenue. Really smart place honestly. It's located near a major mosque and a major Islamic school. It isn't also far from the energy corridor nor is it far from Sugar Land. The inside was very nice. There were paintings of stuff that were important to both Houston and India. I went up to the front and ordered my food.



Let's Eat!

I ordered their Turban burger. It's a beef patty topped with brisket, mango slaw, Muenster cheese, and their turban sauce. I paid $9.99+ tax for the burger, and the waiting time was 12 minutes and 20 seconds. To wait, I just watched the bowl game between LSU and Notre Dame.



Menu: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/twisted-turban-houston?select=YeeYvAhd-wzNtvjtNsz4sQ

This was the best I got as the menu on their website is incomplete! It's really a fusion of both Texan and Indian food. Papri burger? Mmmmm




Shot #1
Shot #2





The Verdict:
The fusion of Indian and Texas food goes well! The food was really good. The spice level was actually tolerable (I say this as a Desi). My only issue was that the patty was slightly overcooked. Service was great. The people were incredibly nice.



Conclusion:
Twisted Turban is a great place if you want to try the unique fusion of Texan and Indian food. It may put off some people when they either hear about Tex-Indian fusion or a Papri burger, but just give it a try! You'll definitely feel welcome as the people at the restaurant will take very good care of you.

One last thing: This place cannot be compared with the likes of Busy Boy or Stanton's. The two places that I mentioned used are classic American places, while this place is a fusion. It would be unfair to compare those two places to this one. 



Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 8/10
Total: 18/20 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Twisted Turban
2832 S Texas 6 (Hwy 6 and Richmond), Houston, TX
Phone: (832) 455-5300
Website: https://twistedturbantx.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TwistedTurbanTX/
Timings: Mon, Wed, Thu, Sun: 10:30 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 10:30 AM - 11 PM; Closed Tue.
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Halal Taqueria: Halal Mexican Food near IAH

Restaurant: Halal Taqueria
Address: 5827 North Sam Houston Parkway, Humble, TX (Beltway 8 and Lee inside the gas station)
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/18/17



Background:
أسلم عليكم / hello everyone! I'm pleased to announce that Houston finally has another place for some halal Mexican food that isn't from M&M Grill. The name is simple: Halal Taqueria. I still remember how good El Plato Caliente was when they were in business (only for a few weeks). So I hope this place would be good. I got to go during my lunch break. I just went there, ordered and picked up the food, and ate at my job.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located at the Intersection of Beltway 8 and Lee Road near Bush airport inside the gas station. Without any hesitation, I placed my order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered two chicken tacos and two beef barbacoa tacos on corn tortillas. Price was $6.50 (tax included). Waiting time was about 6 minutes and 43 seconds. Not bad

Menu: https://www.facebook.com/182061439194141/photos/a.182062735860678.1073741827.182061439194141/184752018925083/?type=1&theater
This place offers other stuff like fried chicken, menudo, and even empanadas!


Barbacoa Tacos


Chicken Tacos

Verdict:
Now, before even eating them, what you have to do is put the salsa all over each taco and some lime as well. It is the customary way of doing it, and it's a huge difference on the taste. The barbacoa taco was really tasty. There was a lot of flavor in it. The chicken one was also pretty good. No issues with the service.



Conclusion:
It may not have the best of settings, but it's a great place to try before your flight at Bush airport. I see myself trying this place again!



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 8.5/10
Total: 16.5/20 = 82.5% (B)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$


Restaurant Information:
Halal Taqueria
5827 North Sam Houston Parkway, Humble, TX
Phone: (281) 973-9526
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Halal-Taqueria-182061439194141/
Timings: Unknown
Caters: no

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Juicy Burgers: A Halal Burger Place in Steeplechase

Restaurant: Juicy Burgers
Address: 12341 FM 1960, Houston, TX (1960 and Windermere Lakes)
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/11/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! After a break to study for finals, I am back! And I think I did really well on them as well. Today I will be talking about a new burger place that has opened up in Steeplechase: Juicy Burgers. Juicy Burgers is a burger chain that is based in California, and this is the first Texas location of it from what I know. I was looking for places on Yelp to try, and this place popped up. What really got my attention was that they offer a build your own concept, where you can pick your own meat, buns, and various regular and premium toppings with cheese. I got to go here before I went to school to submit a 31 page project that I worked on over the previous weekend.



Let The Experience Begin!
Since it was around 11 AM, I was one of the first customers of the day. There was a patio, which was not set up yet. I saw the menu and was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I got the build your own. Half pound patty with beef bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, American cheese, onions, and pickled cheese. Paid $11 for it (tax included). An 11 minute wait.



Menu: https://www.juicyburgershouston.com/Pages/Menu.aspx?DeptID=0
The first thing I notice about the menu is the fact that there is no prices on the build your own, but prices on everything else. How much is it for each patty????? What if someone doesn't want everything from one of the signature burgers? Nevertheless. decent prices. The patty that I got (half pound) ended up costing $7.



The Build Your Own

The Verdict:
Overall, the burger was average, though better than Elevation (similar concepts). The patty was somewhat dry. Also, the patty size should be bigger. The ones you get usually (Mrs. Baird's or Sara Lee) are too small for that big of a patty. An example of a place that has a good size bun is Stanton's. Overall, two side thumbs for the burger. To drink, I just got a cup of water.
The service was great though. The lady behind the counter was really nice.



Conclusion:
I had high expectations for Juicy Burgers, hoping it could replace Elevation as the place to go for build your own burgers, and also see if it can match up with TGs as the go to spot for burgers in Northwest Harris County. Though it was better than the former, it didn't live up to the food of the latter. 



Grading: 
Service: 9/10
Food: 6.5/10
Total: 15.5/20 = 77.55 (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Juicy Burgers
Address: 12341 FM 1960, Houston, TX (1960 and Windermere Lakes)
Phone: (281) 667-0600
Website: juicyburgershouston.com
Facebook: none
Timings; Mon-Thu & Sun: 10 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 10 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers and Happy Holidays!
Zain Mohammed




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Brothers Gyro: Gyro near the Galleria

Restaurant: Brother's Gyro
Address: 5000 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of Visit: 10/28/17



Background:
أسلام عليكم / Hello guys! This will be a review of a 2 month old spot that is the closest halal restaurant to the Galleria: Brothers Gyro. As the name suggests, the main emphasis of this restaurant is the beloved Gyro. I first saw it on Yelp when searching for more places to try. At first, I thought it was just a regular Mediterranean place that serves regular Mediterranean food, but there was one particular one that caught my eye. It was a loaded baked potato with gyro. Baked potatoes are a thing here in the US. It's widely enjoyed as either a side or a full entree. Halal ones are very rare to find, so for the most part many stick to just vegetarian or one with cheese. I used to really enjoy the one at McAlister's at the UH campus, but the time to have an entree size halal loaded baked potato came. TGs has one with beef bacon, but it's only as a side. So this is essentially the first place to offer a halal loaded baked potato in the city as an entree. I got to go after work. Without the Houston traffic, it is only a 15 minute drive from my job. It was hard getting into the place because according to Google Maps,it was on one side of the retail area. Turns out that that side was under construction. Eventually, it was nestled one the other side.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is small, kinda like what Verts used to be like. It was also dark inside. But there was hardly any rush inside, though some tables were taken. After confirming everything was halal, I was ready to go.



Let's Eat!
Getting the food was like getting it at Chipotle: get a main dish, a protein, and then sauces and toppings. Along with the gyro meat, I got every cheese, butter, sour cream, green onions and tzatziki sauce. After it got toasted, I paid $8.10 (tax included) and was ready to eat it.



Menu: http://www.brothersgyro.com/

The menu is small, and everything is under $10. You can get meat in various forms such as a wrap with either tortilla or pita, burger, plate, or even salad. Everything here is halal.

The Gyro Baked Potato


The Verdict:
The four year wait was worth it. Food was really fresh. The gyro meat was really flavorful. The potato was also good as well.
I have no complaints for the service. The people were nice.



Conclusion:
If you want to eat something that has gyro meat, or want a halal loaded baked potato, then this is a place you should try. This is literally a walking distance from the Galleria (just cross Westheimer and you are there!)



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



Restaurant Information:
Brother's Gyro
5000 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas
Phone: (832) 991-8988
Website: http://www.brothersgyro.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brothersgyro/
Timings: Mon-Sun: 10 AM - 8 PM
Caters: No

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Pinkerton's BBQ: The First Sit-Down Halal BBQ Spot in Texas

Restaurant: Pinkerton's BBQ
Address: 1504 Airline Drive, Houston, TX
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 10/22/2017



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. This one is a special one. I am pleased to announce that we finally have a sit down BBQ spot in Houston after a 4 year wait. And this one was big. One closed down (now they reopened and do catering only), and the others do on specific days or catering events. This is a place where you can bring your family and friends, sit down, and eat BBQ. The place is in question is called Pinkerton's BBQ. Believe it or not, this place is regarded to have some of the best BBQ in the Houston area. This place was even considered to be in the top 100 restaurants in Houston by Houston Chronicle food critic Alison cook. Unreal stuff.
So how did all of this start? I got a notification from zabihah.com that Pinkerton's uses halal brisket from Creekstone about a few months ago. I messaged them, and they said that they were working on it. Since then, I was in contact with the owner. I wanted to go in the summer, but a roadblock hit. Prices at Creekstone went up significantly, and the owner wanted to wait until they came down to get the beef. Fast forward to last week, and my best friend shows me a message from one of his friends about Pinkerton's. It now said that you needed at least 24 hours notice. I message him and he said it would be best to come to the restaurant for separately smoked brisket on the weekends, and also early as they tend to run out! Amazing how they're willing to accommodate Muslim customers yet two other BBQ spots in the states said it was not possible to do! Hopefully, the wait would be worth it.



Let The Experience Begin!
Pinkerton's in located in the middle of the Heights on Airline Drive. It's located more to I-45 than it is to 610. I went twice so that I would get the idea of what to expect. So one day I went myself and the next day I brought a group of friends. On Saturday, it was packed! I had to wait for about 5 minutes for parking, but inside the line was thankfully not that long. I met the owner, who said that I was good regarding the smoked brisket! Afterwards, I went in line.
In the second day, I guided my friends in what to do (which is literally just get in line LOL)



Let's Eat!
The way it works is that you get in line and you get your sides and condiments first. They have onions, pickles, and jalapenos. You then have the option of getting sides. I got a potato salad. Then comes the main attraction: the meats. On the first day, I went for a half pound of some nice, fatty brisket. That's where I learned that you have to mention to the cutters that you want halal. They then bring out a freshly smoked brisket onto a clean cutting board with a clean knife. On the second day, I got the brisket as well, but then I learned that ALL their beef is halal (and has been verified many times). Wow. Just wow. So I got myself a chopped beef sandwich. How about that for a comeback after 4 years. There's no waiting time. They listen to what you want, and they give it to you. Definitely something needed since the line can be REALLY long.



Menu: http://www.pinkertonsbarbecue.com/menu/
Prices are literally like EVERY OTHER POPULAR TEXAS BBQ SPOT. I capitalized because the lack of understanding of the fact that BBQ prices are pretty high is one of the major reasons why halal Texas BBQ has failed in Houston. I honestly hope that this one will reverse that. I have provided the links of two popular BBQ spots (Franklin's in Austin and Killen's in Pearland), where you can click on the menu and see what the prices are (note that both use Creekstone, but DO NOT smoke separately from the pork).

Franklin's --> https://franklinbbq.com/menu

Killen's --> https://www.killensbarbecue.com/#menu


The food at Pinkerton's is literally like the ones are the above places. Just pick your sides and meats, and you're good to go! Just remember that only the beef is halal, and you must mention halal when getting your meats. Plenty of people have called them up and confirmed with them that the beef is halal, and everyone in my group asked them about halal and then got the meat.

Brisket cut in half. Pink doesn't mean blood. 

One pound of brisket with potato salad for two
Chopped Beef





The Verdict:
The four year wait was well worth it. The meat was so juicy and tasty. There was so much flavor in the moist brisket. The BBQ sauce was exceptional also. This was on both trips by the way. The majority of the folks with me really liked it (the folks who didn't like it were not beef fans), The food was washed down with a nice bottle of Mexican Coke.
Service was great. The people, including the owner, were incredibly nice.



Conclusion:
One of the top spots for Texas BBQ in Houston AND uses halal meat? You got yourself a customer! I'll definitely be back and I'll definitely bring my friends and family here. You guys should give this place a try if you want a taste of what Texas BBQ is!



Grading:
Food: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Total: 18/20 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $$$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information
Pinkerton's BBQ
1504 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 802-2000
Website: http://www.pinkertonsbarbecue.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pinkertonsbarbecue/
Instagram: pinkertonsbbq
Timings: Mon-Tue: closed; Wed-Thu & Sun: 11 AM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM. I however suggest you guys go early on weekends since they tend to sell out!
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed