Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Daily Cougar

Salam/hey guys!

Here is the article on the Daily Cougar (University of Houston newspaper) that features my blog!

http://thedailycougar.com/2014/06/29/religion-leads-to-blogging-passion/

Enjoy reading it!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan Kareem to everyone who celebrates it regardless of when you're gonna start fasting! May Allah (SWT) accept your fasts and prayers!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Phoenicia: A grocery type restaurant

Restaurant: Phoenicia
1001 Austin Street, Houston, Texas 77010
Buffet or a-la-carte: Neither
Date of visit: 6/23/14

Photo Credit: http://www.phoeniciafoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Phoenicia_V_GRN_RGB.jpg

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing a well-known establishment: Phoenicia. Phoenicia has been in business since 1983 and has two locations. One in downtown on Austin Street, and one on Westheimer Road. I reviewed the one on Westheimer Road. My friend who works downtown told me and my friend that we can meet up for lunch. He suggested Phoenicia in downtown. I had been reluctant to try a restaurant in downtown. I only remember going to the food court in the Shops at Houston Center whenever I would go to the George R. Brown Convention Center for robotics or other activities during high school. Usually in the other places, you would have to pay for parking, and parking is at least $5 during weekdays. Thankfully, Phoenicia has complimentary parking at the One Park Place garage. After going swiftly through traffic, I arrived at the place.



Let The Experience Begin!
Thankfully, I found a very good parking spot. There is direct access to the place from the garage. After getting off the elevator, there is a a walkway, which leads to the place. That place turns out to be a huge grocery store. The restaurant is located in the middle of the grocery store. This evoked memories of Saudi when I used to buy cheesebread from one of the stalls at the Tamimi Market, and when I used to buy snacks at the Geant at the Mall of Dhahran. There were places that had all sorts of salads and other dedicated foods. My friend had me follow him to where to order.



Let's Eat!
I decided to go with the platter. I got sides of broccoli, carrots, and salad. The main meat I got was beef. My friend got the shawarma. I paid $11.75 (tax included) for the meal. There is no waiting time as the food was instantly served.



Menu: http://www.phoeniciafoods.com/departments/prepared-foods/
There is no definite menu for this place. The things in the link are those that are definitetly there though. The specials change every day. There is however, pork and alcohol sold as the owners are non-Muslim. but they are cooked separately though. In the grocery part, you can get various foreign products of your favorite things.


Tzatziki sauce, pita bread, vegetables, and meat


The Verdict:
The food tasted fairly decently. The pita bread was fresh, their salad was good, and both the carrots and broccoli were alright. The meat was very tender, but I wish they would put more meat. The meal was washed down with a bottle of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
Regarding the service, there was nothing to criticize or praise. I just paid for the food and sat down to eat.



Conclusion:
This place is great if you want to do some grocery shopping. I would also recommend the food if you are hungry. I'll definitely come back and provide an update to the other food available as they look so tempting to try!



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 7/10
Waiting Time: N/A
Total: 15/20 = 75% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Phoenicia
1001 Austin Street, Houston, Texas 77010
Phone: (832) 360-2222
Website: http://www.phoeniciafoods.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YUMSTOP
Timings: Mon-Fri: 7 AM - 9 PM; Sat-Sun: 9 AM - 8 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Awesome news!

Pleased to announce that I will be featured in the University of Houston newspaper, the Daily Cougar!! Next step, being featured in the Houston Chronicle!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Kasra Persian Grill- The Worst Service Yet

Restaurant: Kasra Persian Grill
9741 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 6/1/14



Photo Credit: http://pics3.city-data.com/businesses/p/3/6/7/5/7133675.JPG


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing up a review of Kasra Persian Grill. Kasra Persian Grill is one of the few halal restaurants that have been open before I moved from Saudi Arabia. The background into coming to eating here is interesting. During the whole day, I had been participating at a charity event hosted by United Muslims Relief at the University of Houston. We had packed sandwiches and chips at El-Farouq Islamic Center and give the packages to homeless people downtown. We were all hungry, and we decided to grab a bite before leaving for the day. The group I was with had taken forever because we were finding it somewhat difficult to find homeless people to give the sandwiches to. When we gave the last package, it turned out that people were actually on their way there. As soon as I arrived at the Islamic Center, I drove to the restaurant, which only took 10 minutes.



Let The Experience Begin!
Kasra is located at the same strip mall as Yao's restaurant. Inside, it was extremely busy, even though it was close to 6 PM. I immediately spotted everyone from the event and went and sat down with them.



Let's Eat!
The people ordered long before I came, so I asked them what the order was. They ordered meat platters with rice, one for 6 people to share (there were about 30 people total). Each person paid $16.32 (tax included). No waiting time is determined as I came in late and have no idea when they placed to order. To wait, we ate bread and cheese, just like Bijan.



The menu resembles both Bijan and Darband Shish Kabob. The pricing is similar to Bijan's, but more expensive than Darband



The family platter. Good for 6 people


The Verdict:
The food was fairly decent. Both the chicken and beef koobidehs tasted alright, and so did the chicken barg and the jujeh. The beef barg, however, was very dry. The grilled tomato and the rice (not pictured) were also good. The food was washed down with a glass of Pepsi. Overall, one thumb up.
While the food was fairly decent, the service was one of the worst I have ever encountered. One of the waitresses was very rude. She never smiled and she had a nasty attitude. The worst part came while I was eating my bread. I had a significant amount remaining, AND SHE JUST CAME UP AND TOOK THE PLATE AWAY AS I WAS EATING IT! She saw that I was eating, yet she still took the plate away from me. Never before in my entire life has anyone ever done that to me. I tried asking her for the plate back, but she gave me a nasty grin. To all the waiters/waitresses that are reading this: if you see someone eating the food from the plate, PLEASE do not just take it away from them. Ask them whether they can take the plate. Also, it is very important that you do everything with a smile because it will make the customer feel welcome in the restaurant. It would also make the environment very happy. The other servers did what they were supposed to do. 



Conclusion:
So regarding the main Persian restaurants, I'd still pick Bijan. But if you want to eat from here, you should get takeout as the food is pretty decent. I would not comeback unless I am invited to a party, but I'd still eat their catering food.



Grading:
Service: 2/10 (Lowest grade for service ever given)
Food: 7/10
Waiting Time: N/A
Overall: 9/20 = 45% (F) (Only the second F given in this blog)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Kasra Persian Grill
9741 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Phone: (713) 975-1810
Website: http://www.kasrahouston.com/KASRA/HOME.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kasra-Persian-Grill/309518192811
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 11 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes


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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Empire Turkish Grill- Pricey but Delicious

Restaurant: Empire Turkish Grill
12448 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77024
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 5/31/14


Photo Credit: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/03/b5/fa/94/empire-turkish-grill.jpg


Background: 
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing another Turkish restaurant that is in the Houston area. This one is Empire Turkish Grill. Empire Turkish Grill has been in business long before I moved to Houston from Saudi Arabia. Restaurant critics, including the Houston Chronicle's Alison Cook, have praised this restaurant for being excellent in quality and taste. Another interesting fact is that this is the first Turkish restaurant that I am reviewing that is not in the Interstate 610 Loop! The time came while I had family over from Dallas. My uncle was really interested in trying Turkish food, since the majority of restaurants there are mainly Indian/Pakistani. Since this was the closest Turkish restaurant to my house, I decided to take him here. After driving in the horrible weather, I arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant from the outside looks like many buildings in Memorial: large and swanky. The inside was a lot like a fine dining restaurant. There was actually a wine cellar, and a waiting area when the dining area is full. Everything was properly laid. We both got a table then got the menu. After going through the menu, we were ready to order.



Let's Eat!
We both ordered the $10.95 lunch specials. I got the filet mignon kebab with the lentil soup, while my uncle got the chicken kebab with shepard's salad and the lentil soup. All the kebabs came with vegetables and rice. I do not know how much the meal was as my uncle paid for it. The waiting time was 3 minutes and 24 seconds for the appetizers and 8 minutes for the entrees.



The menu is pricey! No kebab entrees are under $10! And there are no sandwiches offered in the restaurant. Heck, the mix grill is $26.95! I am thankful that they do the lunch specials, even on the weekend. Also, I like the idea of the meat combinations.


Turkish Bread


Lentil Soup


My uncle's chicken kebab


My filet mignon kebab


The Verdict:
So how did my uncle's first Turkish cuisine experience go? It went very well. He really liked the lentil soup, salad, and the chicken kebab. I really liked everything I had too. The filet mignon was cooked perfectly. The vegetables and rice were also very tasty. The food was washed down with a few glasses of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was good too. The waitress we had was very helpful and very friendly. She confirmed that all the meat was halal to my uncle, since he was skeptical of it as the restaurant serves alcohol.



Conclusion:
Empire Turkish Grill is a great place to eat some authentic Turkish food. It may be expensive, but thankfully they have the nice affordable lunch special. No wonder all the food critics have nothing but praise for the restaurant. This place is ideal for anyone who wants to go for a special occasion. I would definitely come back if I crave for some Turkish food.



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



Restaurant Information:
Empire Turkish Grill
12448 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77024
Phone: (713) 827-7475
Website: http://www.empiretrgrill.com/
Facebook: No
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 9:30 PM; Fri" 11 AM - 10 PM; Sat: 12 PM - 10 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes



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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bombay Pizza Company- A Different Approach to a Beloved item

Restaurant: Bombay Pizza Company
636 Highway 6, Suite 100, Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 5/23/14



Photo Credit: http://www.downtownhouston.org/site_media/uploads/photos/2010-04-07/Bombay-Pizza-Co._800x600.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Finally after nearly a month, I am writing a review of a new restaurant! This time I went to Bombay Pizza Company. Bombay Pizza Company is a unique fusion of Indian and Italian food. It combines favorite pizza toppings with Indian favorites such as chutney, and paneer (Indian cottage cheese). They have grown to be very successful and well-known in Houston. They have two locations: Downtown on Main St. and Sugar Land. This one reviews the Sugar Land location. Now I hardly go to Sugar Land or try any restaurants there because it is far from UH and my house in Cypress. This trip only happened because after Friday Prayers, I would be participating in a fundraiser for children all across the world hosted by Children's International at the University of Houston. I had plenty of time before the Friday Prayers would start. So I decided to give this place a try.



Let The Experience Begin!
Bombay Pizza is located in the strip mall that is located at the Highway 6 Access road and University Drive next to the Marble Slab Creamery. Inside were huge TVs and a bar. The rush was not that bad, so I only waited in the line for 3 minutes to order my food.



Let's Eat!
I made my own pizza. My toppings were chicken, beef, provolone cheese, and bell peppers. To drink, I got a bottle of Maaza. I paid a total of $11.06 (tax included). The waiting time was a good 8 minutes and 11 seconds. To wait, I watched the TV



Menu: http://www.bombaypizzaco.com/menu.html
Only the chicken and beef is halal. So whichever has pepperoni, sausage, New York strip or bacon is not halal.



The Custom made pizza. The crust of made from naan



The Verdict:
My first time trying naan crust pizza turned out to be a very good experience. The food tasted great! The cheese was fresh and both meats were cooked perfectly. Naan crust is more crispy than regular crust. What I really liked about this place was that they serve personal full size pizzas. The food was washed down with a bottle of Maaza. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was good too. They happily helped me understand what was halal and what wasn't unlike last time. The people were friendly and easy to talk to.



Conclusion:
If you want pizza, but not the traditional way, Bombay Pizza Company would be the best bet for you. All I am hoping for right now is that they would open a location in the north side of town. This way, I can enjoy the food without driving so far. But if I am in Sugar Land, I'll again give this place a try.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 27/30 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Bombay Pizza Company
636 Highway 6, Suite 100, Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-1131
Website: http://www.bombaypizzaco.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bombay-Pizza-Co/228400071168
Timings: (Sugar Land) Sun-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed