Saturday, April 30, 2016

BIG ANNOUCEMENT:

Salam/hey guys! I am pleased to announce that my mosque (Masjid Al Mustafa at 17250 Coventry Park Drive in Houston, TX) is hosting a carnival and a Halal BBQ Cook-off!

What is a BBQ Cook off? A BBQ Cook off is when people compete for the best BBQ in a competition setting. There are a wide variety of BBQ that exists all over the world. There is Texan BBQ, Desi (Indian/Pakistani BBQ), Arab BBQ, etc. This is the first time ever that a halal BBQ cook off is happening in the city. There are already major BBQ cook offs that take place in Houston, but there is a lot of pork that is used in those cook offs. I hope you guys can make it!

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill- A Healthy, Halal Mediterranean Version of Chipotle

Restaurant: Garbanzo Mediterranean
Address: 947 Gessner Road, Houston, Texas 77024
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 4/9/16


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review of Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill! Today I will be giving you guys a walkthrough of the restaurant, and give you an idea of how the food tastes. Garbanzo Mediterranean is a Halal Mediterranean version of Chipotle. You get to pick a meat, and unlimited number of sides, just like chipotle. Like Chipotle, you go through a line with the person helping you out on what items you have. The obvious difference is that Garbanzo actually has halal options unlike Chipotle. Garbanzo also has locations in San Antonio, Atlanta, Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. I got to go after I had finished an event and before I had to head to UH. After going through traffic, I arrived at the place.



Let The Experience Begin!
Garbanzo is located off I-10 in the same area as Kuu restaurant in the Memorial Hermann Memorial City complex. The inside looks really nice, but I was literally the only person inside the restaurant. Without hesitation, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the sirloin steak plate. For the sides, I got rice, salad, vegetables, garlic sauce, and feta cheese. It came with free bread. All of that food for just $9.30 (tax included). Really good value and a generous portion.



Menu: only their chicken and steak are halal. But everything is under $10 if you don't get anything to drink. You also have the option of pita, gyro (not sure if you can put any meat in the gyro), salad, and wrap. Regarding the meats and veggies, you also have chicken (either chopped up or in a skewer), a steak skewer, portobello mushrooms, falafel, and gyro meat (again, not halal). What I don't like is that bottled water is $1.99.



The plate


The Verdict:
The food was decent. I actually found it to be better than some of the Mediterranean places that I've been to in my lifetime, but not as good as other Mediterranean places. The presentation looks good. Every part of the plate has each item, and the sauce is on the top. I'm sure that you could ask them for garlic sauce on the side. The person helping me in the front is friendly.



Conclusion:
I wouldn't mind coming here again and trying out the chicken items and the other sides. Just two suggestions: get white pita and also have a free cup of water. If other places can do it, why can't they?



Grading:
Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10
Total: 14.5/20 = 72.5% (C)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill
947 Gessner Road, Houston, Texas 77024
(832) 804-9616
Website: http://eatgarbanzo.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GarbanzoMedFresh/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Monday, April 11, 2016

Nyam Nyam Cafe- Halal Savory Crepes Have Arrived in Houston

Restaurant: Nyam Nyam Cafe
Address: 15201 Mason Road, Cypress, Texas 77433
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte:
Date of Visit: 4/6/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. Today, I will be writing up about my trip to a place that has unique halal options. The place is called Nyam Nyam Cafe. Pretty weird name for a place that serves halal options right? Nyam Nyam Cafe is a place that has kebabs, pirozhki, a baked/fried bun stuffed with a variety of toppings, and crepes. Crepes and pirozhki both come in either sweet (dessert items), and savory (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.) versions. I've always enjoyed eating a Nutella crepe. In fact, Cafe Pita has a nutella crepe, and I really liked it. But what I really wanted to try was a halal savory crepe. Ironically, I loved the crepe, but I strongly dislike the Indian crepe, dosa. I always found the dosa (which is always savory) to be extremely sour to my liking. My desire to try a halal savory crepe started all the way back in 2014 when I had asked Coco's Crepes about their merguez (sausage from North Africa) being halal. They had responded by saying no. I was shocked (no joke). I found it very ironic how something from a Muslim majority region would not be halal. Even on their website, they stated "Merguez Moroccan Sausage". I honestly wonder where they get their merguez since it isn't halal. The desire accelerated when I had gone to Sweet Paris in at CityCentre and got the feast crepe (eggs, cheese, and vegetables) and the Nutella crepe. They have actually been open for a while, but I never got the opportunity to try it, despite it being only 15 minutes from Prairie View and my house. The desire to try it ASAP died down, until I saw another food blogger talking about that place and how amazing it was on Snapchat (my Snapchat is halal_reviewer). I then realized that I had enough money to spend for the month of April. It was important that I had enough money in April because later in the month, I'm gonna treat one of my best friends for his birthday. After my class had ended, I was ready to go.



Let The Experience Begin!
Nyam Nyam Cafe is located just after the Cypresswood intersection in the same strip mall as Sunrise Cafe, Subway, and Pizza Hut. The inside was really nice, and you could see your crepes being made. The restaurant was completely packed, so packed that I sat on the stool instead of the table. When I was recording using snapchat, I had to make sure that I was't focusing on one person. The friendly owner greeted me, and I confirmed that they had halal lamb (which was the main reason why I had wanted to go here). I was then ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Mediterranean lamb crepe. I got a few vegetables to add on with the crepe. The crepe came with a yogurt based sauce and feta cheese. I paid $14.06 (tax included). While waiting, I talked to the owner. It was then that I realized that their chicken was also halal, but not the beef and duck. The same thing was applicable the pirozhkis. Everything is also cooked in a clean pan.



Menu: http://www.nyamnyamcafe.com/
The reason I put the website is because if you click "menu" it will scroll down on the website to where the menu is. Anyways, the menu was great and there were a good variety of crepes. They even have a crepe with red caviar. Red caviar is actually a Russian delicacy. It's eggs from salmon. It's actually more affordable than beluga or sturgeon caviar. They also have the sweet crepes that are commonly enjoyed by menu. The pirozhkis seem to be delicious. One important thing that they have is a breakfast crepe, where you can put the halal chicken in it instead of sausages! You can have that with a variety of coffees and teas, Finally, they have the traditional Russian soup called borscht, which has beets and cabbage.




The Crepe Topped with feta cheese and the sauce on the side

The Verdict:
To make it short and simple: Fantastic! Easily the best meal of the year so far for me among new restaurants! I found this to be as good as Sweet Paris. Everything was fresh and full of flavor. The wait was definitely worth it. Even the sauce went well with the crepe. The food was pretty filling too. I didn't drink anything as I didn't have enough money to spend on a drink. Overall, two thumbs up!
The service was wonderful. The owner and the workers were extremely nice. They looked like they loved their jobs and loved to make food for their customers.



Conclusion:
If you want to eat at a place that's halal and near the Premium Outlets off 290, or if you ever want to try a halal savory crepe, then this is your go to place. I'll definitely be making more trips here, and I hope they will keep the halal options.




Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 10/10 (First in a long time)
Total: 20/20 = 100% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Nyam Nyam Cafe
15201 Mason Road, Cypress, Texas 77433
Phone: (832) 653-5900
Website: http://www.nyamnyamcafe.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NyamNyamCafeTX

Timings:
Mon- Closed
Tue-Thu: 8 AM - 8 PM
Fri-Sat: 8 AM - 9 PM
Sun: 8 AM - 3 PM

Caters: yes

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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Olivit: A full Service Arab Restaurant in the heart of Klein

Restaurant: Olivit
Address: 7316 Louetta Road, Spring, Texas (Opposite Klein High School)
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/24/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing my review about a place that I had wanted to go to for a while. The place is called Olivit. I first heard about this place from my friend who attends the same masjid as me, all the way back in the summer of last year. I was actually surprised that there was another Arab place in the northside because there was already Zamani and Kababi Zaytoon, two already known Arab places in the northside. I had been wanting to go since the end of last Ramadan, but I had to push back the trip because something or the other would come up, thus forcing me to either go somewhere else or don't go and review a place at all. The time came for me to try came that Thursday. I had no class until 3:30 PM that day. So I decided to go there from Cypress to finally try it out.
Based on the other reviews that I had read, Olivit seemed to be a really good place that had some good Arab food. I heard nothing but praise for that place. I didn't even know that it had existed until my friend had told me about it.



Let The Experience Begin!
Olivit is located directly across Klein High School, next to the Jimmy John's. I think I was the first customer there that day (I went at 11 AM). The inside was very nice. It was very nicely decorated. There was a TV on one side of the restaurant, and there was Arab music playing throughout the restaurant. A guy came and helped me and gave the menu. After reading it a bit, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the mix grill lunch special. I got the zenga soup, which was recommended by my friend as the other item. I'm just really thankful that like other Arab places, Olivit gives free bread (Indian/Pakistani places need to do this). I paid a total of $11.90 (tax included). The waiting time was 12 minutes and 34 seconds.



Menu: http://www.olivitgrill.com/
The reason I posted the website is because if you click on it, you have to click on either "LUNCH MENU" or "DINNER MENU". The menus have the usual kebabs, sandwiches, shawarmas, and combos, alongside some items like Dawood Basha (Syrian meatballs), and Quallaya (sauteed dish) that you rarely see at an Arab restaurant. You even have pastas and salads. Now regarding the dinner items, the entrees are more pricey than Sayad! That's because they give more than one skewer. But in their platters, it's one skewer of either a combo of two kababs or one whole skewer of a specific kabab, and it's slightly less pricier than Sayad. Finally like Sayad, they have a chicken tikka kabab, which I wonder why. Based on the menu description, my guess would be that it's like an Arab version of chicken tikka masala (someone who is familiar with it please help me out in the comments :) )



The bread


The Mix Grill


Zenga Soup


The Verdict:
I got the zenga first, and boy it was wonderful! This is now one of my favorite soups to have, alongside the Turkish lentil soup. The soup came very fresh and was packed with a lot of flavor. Everything was cooked perfectly. The mix grill had some hits and misses however. When I got it, I noticed how stingy they were when it came when it came to the meat. Other places would give an individual skewer of each kabab. I was really disappointed in the presentation of the plate. The mix grill came with grilled vegetables, tahini sauce and garlic sauce. The chicken could have been better to be honest. It wasn't really that tasty. The kafta kabab was absolutely delicious. It had a huge amount of flavors. The food was washed down with a glass of water.
Service was OK. The waiter was moody however, but not to the point of being downright condescending or rude for me to take a lot of points off (he didn't shout, make snide remarks, or take away my food).



Conclusion:
Overall, Olivit is a decent find in the northside area. I'll definitely be getting the zenga soup and the kafta kabab. I'll also won't mind trying the chicken tikka and seeing how it's different than the Indian chicken tikka masala. A couple of suggestions that I would have for the restaurant would be to 
put some more meat in the mix grill, and to cheer up when serving customers.



Grading: 
Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10
Total: 14.5/20 = 72.5% (C)
Pricing: $$$ out of $$$$ 



Restaurant Information:
Olivit
7316 Louetta Road, Spring, Texas
Phone: (281) 257-4445
Website: http://www.olivitgrill.com/
Timings: Mon-Sun 11 AM - 10 PM; Lunch Mon-Fri: 11 AM - 3 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Monday, March 28, 2016

Napoli Express Pizza - A pizza place with some halal Italian dishes

Restaurant: Napoli Express Pizza
Address: 10145 South Highway 6, Sugar Land, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/17/16



Photo Credit: http://media.merchantcircle.com/36630663/9b372ffc-fda5-42c6-ac7d-76cf8d5b3f9b_medium.jpeg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. Today I will be reviewing yet another Italian restaurant: Napoli Express Pizza. Napoli Express Pizza is located in the parking lot of a Chevron Gas Station at the intersection of Highway 6 and Old Richmond Road. I was in Sugar Land as I was participating in making the short film with my friends for the MSA Showdown competition that is taking place in Arlington this coming weekend (not going sadly). We had taken a little break after we had spent the day filming and acting. So we decided to come here at the recommendation of our friend. It was also convenient because it was only 10 minutes from his house. So after we edited the scene, we went to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin
There were plenty of tables to eat inside. We got a table next to the door. The ambiance was nice and bright. The menu was there for us to see. After reading the menu, we were ready to order.



Let's Eat!
My friend ordered the beef lasagna, and I ordered the cheese ravioli with the halal meat sauce. Both came with free salad and garlic breadTo drink, my friend has a Sprite and I had a Pepsi. I paid between $11 and $12 (tax included). The waiting time for the lasagna was at 13 minutes, while my ravioli took more than double the time. The official time was 27 minutes and 3 seconds. This beats Darband as the place that I have endured the longest wait for my food. The funny thing is that it's even longer than the time it takes for Saravanaa Bhavan to give my food after the rest of my family gets it. I talked to my friend at the table and tried contacting my other friend to meet us at the restaurant so that we could go and finish the final scene.



Menu: http://www.napoliexpresspizza.com/menu.html
They have a separate halal menu. The great part is that the halal menu availability is very similar to the availability at Russo's on Kirby. You must mention halal at the counter. And when ordering pasta, make sure you tell them to not put alcohol in the pasta just to be safe. If you want, you can ask them to put marinara sauce or the meat sauce. They don't, however, have pizza by the slice.



Clockwise from top right: Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce, Lasagna, Garlic Bread, and House Salad


The Verdict:
The ravioli was tasty, and so was the sample of the lasagna that I had. Both my friend and I really liked the food that we had ordered. The meat sauce had a lot of flavor and the texture was perfect. The ravioli was fresh and the cheese inside it was so good. The only blemish was the salad, which was just ok. Overall, two thumbs up for the main courses and one side thumb for the salad.
The service was good. The lady at the counter was really nice. She had apologized for the delay in my food coming out.



Conclusion:
Want a place that has a variety of halal pastas? Then this is your best bet if you live in Sugar Land or anywhere west of the Tollway. This is big as most of the halal Italian places have a limited number of halal pastas available. And most importantly, the food tastes good. In my next trip, I will try the pizza that they have to offer. 



Grading:
Service: 7.3/10 (.7 points off because time exceeded 20 minute limit. Extra minute late = .1 points off)
Food: 8.5/10
Total: 15.8/20 = 79% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information: 
Napoli Express Pizza
10145 South Highway 6, Sugar Land, Texas
Phone: (281) 240-0722
Website: http://www.napoliexpresspizza.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Napoli-Express-Pizza-529878047057398/
Timings:

Monday: 10:30 AM - 9 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday & Thursday: 10:30 AM - 9:30 PM
Friday & Saturday: 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM
Sunday: 11 AM - 9 PM

Caters: Yes
Delivery available in certain areas

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tony's New York Pizzeria: A Halal Pizza Place in the North Side

Restaurant: Tony's New York Pizzeria
Address: 9203 Louetta Road, Spring, Texas 77379
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/9/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys, and welcome to my latest review! I had been busy earlier because I had my midterm exams. So the review is of a pizzeria that sells NY Style called Tony's. I've actually heard a lot of good things about that place from my friends and other foodies. I also wanted to go here because it's one of the few pizza places that serve by the slice. My chance to go here came when I had to go to Spring for some work. I had enough time until I had to be there, so I decided to come here for lunch and see whether the food lives up to what the people have said. After the really long drive from Prairie View on FM 2920 as well as Louetta, I arrived at the place.



Let the Experience Begin!
Tony's is located at the Valero gas station at the intersection of Louetta and Colony Creek Drive. Inside, the tables had checker boards, so if you want, you could play checkers. There was also an air hockey table. There were people in front of me when I arrived at the place. After waiting, it was my turn to order.



Let's Eat!
My first inclination was to get the buffet, but the pizza there wasn't halal. So I asked which ones were halal and he had explained it to me. So I ended up getting the lunch special consisting of a Philly Cheesesteak pizza with Caesar salad. I paid over $6 (tax included). The waiting time was 5 minutes and 37 seconds.



Menu: http://www.tonysnypizzahouston.com/#!menu/cwld
The menu here is pretty extensive. They have Sicilian style pizza and even pizza by the slice. They also have a couple of pastas and baked items as well. Remember, when ordering halal, you must request them when ordering. The items are priced at decent amounts. The halal options are: wings, chicken, meatballs, and their Philly Cheesesteak pizza.



Philly Cheesesteak Pizza and Caesar Salad


The Verdict:
The salad was very fresh. It went well with the ranch that came with it. The pizza, however, was average. The entire slice, from the cheese to the meats to the vegetables, tasted ok, nowhere near it's competitors. It was also very oily, one of the most oiliest pizzas that I have eaten. The food was washed down with water. Overall, one thumb up for the salad, and one side thumb for the pizza.
The service was good. The person was nice and told me the halal items that were available.



Conclusion:
Tony's is probably the only halal pizza place between 249 and I-45. It's just average to be honest. I'll probably only eat it if it's catered. If you want the best halal pizza in Houston, then I suggest you go somewhere else.



Grading: 
Service: 8/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 14/20 = 70% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Tony's New York Pizza
9203 Louetta Road, Spring, Texas 77379
Phone: (281) 251-4500
Website: http://www.tonysnypizzahouston.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonysnewyorkpizzahouston
Timings:

Mondays-Thursdays: 11 AM - 9:30 PM
Fridays-Saturdays: 11 AM - 10 PM
Sundays: closed

Caters: Yes
Delivery available

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Monday, February 29, 2016

UPDATED DISCLAIMER

All opinions expressed on this blog are personal opinions and therefore are subjective. I only seek to share my opinions and participate in something that I enjoy. I review halal restaurants for the sole purpose of providing subjective information about the places I visit.
I am not paid to review any specific places. Every restaurant I review is paid for with my own money.