Thursday, August 14, 2014

Afghan Dastarkhwan- A taste of Afghanistan in an upscale fashion

Restaurant: Afghan Dastarkhwan
6800 Southwest Free Suite C, Houston, Texas 77084
Buffet or a-la-carte: Buffet
Date of visit: 8/11/14


Photo Credit: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EsM9Z7_fJY8/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAABQ/IyV0dDUwZ5U/photo.jpg


Full review:
Salam/hey guys! Today I'll be reviewing another Afghan restaurant here in Houston. It is called Afghan Dastarkhwan. Dastarkhwan is a Persian term that mean "spread out meticulous dining spread". I've been wanting to try this place ever since I got a notification from zabihah.com that this place had opened up. What's funny is that I have heard so many stories about this place. It is supposed to be a place that is the "First High End Afghan resstaurant in Houston". I have heard the owner bragging about how great it is and that it's the best restaurant in town. On their Facebook page, they took pictures of the restaurant being full, the restaurant hosting graduation parties, catering to events in Houston and even Beaumont, which is 90 miles away, and franchising all over Houston! Heck, even Indian celebrities and the Pakistan club of Houston have dined here in this restaurant. The Saudis in Houston organization has even recognized them as one of the best restaurants. Now here is the drawback. The last time someone boast on the radio about how good their restaurant was Paradise Biryani nearby on Hillcroft. And this boast seemed more like "come and enjoy the most mediocre and reheated biryani in USA" rather than "come and enjoy the best biryani in USA". But there was a feature that was good: Cafe Pita. I've tried nearly all of Guy's favorites in later trips and they are really delicious! The time came for me to try when my summer macroeconomics class finished, and I had time to kill before I continue studying for my final exam. Initially I was planning on going for my monthly trip to Stanton's, but they were closed as it is was a Monday. So Afghan Dastarkhwan it is!



Let The Experience Begin!
Afghan Dastarkhwan is located at the exact same building that Lucy's Ethiopian is located. While Lucy's is in the front when you turn from the US 59 feeder, Afghan Dastarkhwan was at the back of the building. When I came in, the owner was right in front sitting on the couch and answering phone calls. He just said "feel free to sit somewhere and make yourself comfortable". I was pleasantly surprised that an Indian/Pakistani owner would be so calm. Inside, the restaurant resembled a party hall. It was quite dark in there, and there was also a stage. Maybe it's their definition of high end dining. There was also a TV playing. 



Let's Eat!
I had the buffet. The buffet consists of Kabuli Pulao, a potato and lamb curry, and Biryani (as usual). To drink, I just had water. I paid $11.80 for the buffet (tax included)


Menu (click to view): Page 1Page 2 and front
The menu consists of various traditional Afghan delicacies. I must say that for a high end restaurant, the pricing was splendid. Normally at fine dining restaurants, the prices are usually above $30


Kabuli Pulao and potato and lamb curry

The Verdict:
Contrary to the majority of buffets I have been to, this was some decent food! The Kabuli pulao still retained the flavor as if it was fresh, and the potato and lamb curry was very flavorful. It reminded me of the time in Turkey when I had a similar dish like that! Compared to Saffron Kabob House in regards to the Kabuli Pulao, this wins because it is less oily. The food was washed down with a nice full jug of water. Overall, two thumbs up
The service was good. The waitress was very attentive and I liked the idea of having a jug to yourself. That way, you can have the water when you feel like it.



Conclusion:
Unlike Paradise Biryani Pointe, the actual taste and service lived up to what the owner had said! As always, actions matter more than words. Very rarely do buffets have taste and high quality. This is one of the buffets that actually have taste and good quality. I hope to one day bring my whole family here or just grab lunch here when driving from UH.



Grading: 
Service: 9/10
Food: 8.5/10
Waiting Time: N/A
Total: 17.5/20 = 87.5% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Afghan Dastarkhwan
6800 Southwest Free Suite C, Houston, Texas 77084
Phone: (281) 785-3913
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Afghans-Dastarkhwan/274960609352045
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri: 11 AM - 12 AM; Sat: 12 PM - 12 AM; Sun: 12 PM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed



Monday, August 11, 2014

Eastern Style BBQ - No Halal BBQ, but rather a taste of home

Restaurant: Eastern Style BBQ
Catering business
Date of tasting: 3/8/14




Background:
Salam/hey guys! Hope you guys had a great Eid! Sorry I've been out, but I've been very busy with summer classes. Anyways, today we are reviewing a catering company for the first time! Now this is different. There will only be grading on the food. Normally there would be a menu available to view with the prices displayed, but in this case, there isn't. There is only going to be the verdict and "Let's Eat!", where the food options available are displayed, because there's literally no experience in a catering company. And there is no waiting time because the main factor in how long it will take for the food to come is the traffic. Now what made it possible was that the ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) Houston Chapter was having their Eid picnic. I didn't get the food; the organizers did. All I did was play a game of cricket with my friends.

Let's Eat!
The options were: beef kabob, chicken tikka, and every South Asian person's favorite dish: biryani. No idea on how prices were as I didn't order it.



Biryani, Kabob, and Chicken Tikka


The Verdict:
Believe it or not, the food is actually decent! I guess it really pays off when a restaurant actually makes their food fresh. It was very welcoming to see a restaurant that serves Indian/Pakistani restaurant that actually has taste fresh and actually maintains good quality. The kabob was good, but the biryani was the standout. The food was washed down with a bottle of water.



Conclusion:
If you want some good Indian/Pakistani food for a wedding, event, or a simple gathering, then Eastern Style BBQ would be a great option. Their food actually tastes fresh and has good quality.



Grading:
Food: 8/10 = 80% (B)
Call for Pricing

Restaurant Information:
Eastern Style BBQ
Phone: (281) 871-0060

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

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