Sunday, April 16, 2017

Quick Review: KC Smoke Burgers: Best Halal Burgers in the Great Plains?

Restaurant: KC Smoke Burgers
Address: 1610 W 39th Street, Kansas City, Missouri
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/29/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today is the first time that I review a place that is located in Missouri! In my last visit to the Kansas City area, I only got to try three places in Kansas (mainly Overland Park and Lenexa). So why am I in the Show Me State during the middle of the school year? Well, it was because I was attending the 43rd annual NSBE Conference (NSBE = National Society of Black Engineers). I also had an interview the following day for an internship position (if I get it, I'll be relocating to Florham Park, New Jersey for the summer). and I wanted to learn more about my discipline. I came with my school on a 12 hour bus ride from my university to the hotel near Kansas City airport. I however did not stay with them. I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Overland Park (because they're family). So after saying goodbye to them and getting picked up by my uncle, we ordered burgers for lunch from here since it was lunch time.
This was actually a place that I actually wanted to try during my last visit in 2014 since I heard wonderful things about it from my family as well as my friend who moved to Kansas City from Houston. This, from what I know, is the only halal burger in all of Western Missouri and in the entire Kansas City area including the Kansas suburbs. Makes me hope that ONE day, there will be a place for halal Kansas City BBQ, since it is the main food that Kansas City is known for. After going through 635 and 35, we arrived at the place to pick it up.



Let The Experience Begin!
KC Smoke Burgers is located near the University of Kansas Medical School. Oh, and you have to parallel park (which is a rare thing in Texas). Inside, it was simple: seats, and the cashier area. We came, and got the pickup order.



Let's Eat!
I got their signature stuffed burger, while my uncle got the basic cheeseburger. We both got burgers and Coke. The stuffings I got were cheddar cheese and onions.



Menu: https://www.smokeburgers.com/#/
For this place, you have to request for halal. Everything can come in halal except for the turkey and chili. The place is like your typical burger joint.

The burger I had



The Verdict:
The food was just WOW. Even though it was pickup, the food was still fresh and there was a lot of flavor in the burger. My uncle also enjoyed his burger. It was very fulfilling as well. Definitely a gem in the Kansas City Area. The people were really nice as well!



Conclusion:
Well, they definitely gained a returning customer! I hope to dine in there during my next visit to the Kansas City area. I hope to try their other items as well. If you are in Kansas City, then you should definitely give this place a try!

Grading:
Food: 10/10

Restaurant Information:
KC Smoke Burgers
1610 W 39th Street, Kansas City, Missouri
Phone: (816) 931-4455
Website: https://www.smokeburgers.com/#/
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 11 AM - 8 PM
Caters: unknown

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

Cheers
Zain Mohammed

Friday, March 31, 2017

Aga's Restaurant: Best Biryani In Town?

Restaurant: Aga's
Address: 11842 Wilcrest Drive, Houston, TX
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/4/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about my experience in another Pakistani restaurant. This time, it is called Aga's. I first heard about this when someone on social media told me about them having the best goat chops in town. Since then, I have heard nothing but praise about their goat chops, and I had every intention of trying them. Before this trip, the best Pakistani place I have had in Houston was Bundu Khan. However, they only had kababs, naan, and daal. I wanted to look for a place in Houston where I could enjoy biryani, karahi, and kababs, convince my parents that it is much better than Khan BBQ (their favorite place; it has literally turned into an obsession). I tried Larosh Grill's biryani last year, but it wasn't satisfactory. I liked Biryani Pot, which is more Indian than Pakistani, but my parents didn't. Same deal with Hyderabad House (they even complained about the food in the last time we got takeout from there). Unfortunately, it was really hard for me to drive down there from Cypress because 1) distance, and 2) school. I finally got to try it when I went for a birthday party of one of my best friend's. There were about 25 + people who came, and I was one of the last ones to come because I went through a lot of hassle just to come. Also, the weather and traffic were bad.



Let The Experience Begin!
Aga's is located off 59 North and Wilcrest. Inside, it looked really nice. It was also packed. I greeted everyone and then got a menu. After asking for a waitress, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the chicken biryani. I wanted to see if their biryani is actually worth giving it another shot to convince my parents that this would be better than Khan BBQ. I paid $11.80 (tax included). The waiting time was not that bad to be honest at a mere 12 minutes and 23 seconds, since it was packed inside. TO wait, I conversed with my friends.



Menu: http://agasrestaurant.com/menu
The options here have a huge variety. They even have a section that is dedicated to egg curry. as well as an option of having the classic dish of daal chawwal. A downside is that each naan is $1.50, so if you want to order curry, keep in mind of the price of naan. Everything else seems to be ok pricewise (lamb chops are generally expensive compared to other meats).

The Biryani


Chicken 65, tandoori chicken masala, naan, and palak paneer



The Verdict:
One word: WOW. Without a doubt the best biryani I've had at a Pakistani place outside my house since moving from Saudi. Growing up, the Pakistani places my family loved a lot had really good biryani for both catering and regular dining in. The biryani had a lot of flavor and so did the other
items that I was able to try. Two thumbs up for the food. Service wasn't bad either.



Conclusion:
Aga's is a place you should try if you want some great Indian/Pakistani food. I see myself going here more times rather than Khan BBQ.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 9/10
Total: 17/20 = 85% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Aga's
11842 Wilcrest Drive, Houston, TX
Phone: (281) 776-9292
Website: http://agasrestaurant.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/agasrestaurant/
Timings: Sun-Thu: 11 AM - 10:15 PM; Fri-Sat: 11:30 AM - 10: 45 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tayeb Mandi Mediterranean Grill: Decent Food, Terrible Service

Restaurant: Tayeb Mandi
Address: 8409 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 2/3/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about my trip to another Mediterranean (or rather Arab place). This place is called Tayeb Mandi. It was a place that I had wanted to try for a while. The main reason being that it had specialties from the countries that border the Persian Gulf such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar. Most of the food from the Arabic speaking countries you see in Houston is from countries like Palestine and Lebanon. This is where we distinct between Mediterranean and Arab in this blog. I was going to go the previous week, but I went during the time of Friday Prayers and had to head to Kabab King. The best time for me to try came right before I went to downtown to attend the Super Bowl fan fest using Metro as well as going to the NFL Experience. After the Friday prayer ended, I headed to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Tayeb Mandi is located at the intersection of Almeda and Holly Hall. It is in the same store as Al Ameer halal meat. On the left is the traditional sitting down area, where you sit on the ground next to cushions and eat the food. There are also normal tables and chairs. You had to go to the front and order the food.



Let's Eat!
I was going to go for the Mandi, but they didn't have any. What a bummer! So I ended up getting a chicken kabsa, which proved to be the difference maker in terms of my budget I had for the entire day of eating here and eating at the Super Bowl fan fest. It comes with muhammara (Arab hot sauce) and one sid edish (I got yogurt). I also got a bottle of Mexican Coke. The total price? $12.43 (tax included). This is no buffet or a-la-carte, it is cafeteria style. You tell them what you want and they'll give it to you. You pay at the end.



Menu:
A mix of both Arab and Mediterranean favorites. They even have biryani. From what I've heard, this place used to serve more items such as haneeth, and agada. Interesting how they don't have a mix grill option since they had shish tawouk and kafta kabab.

The Menu (click to view)

Chicken Kabsa

The Verdict:
The traditional way of eating is with the hand, but they give you a fork and spoon just in case you don't want to do that. The food was decent and filling. The chicken has flavor, and the red sauce gave a good kick.
The service was horrible however. The person behind the counter was rude from the start to the end of the trip. He was not polite and professional. This may not be a fancy place, but it's ok to be friendly and professional towards your customers right? He wouldn't even respond to me saying "Thank You" as I would head out.



Conclusion:
While this place had decent food, I don't see myself eating at the establishment again. I would rather just get it for takeout, and I would recommend you doing the same thing as well. I hope to try their lamb, which is their specialty, and see how that tastes.



Grading:
Service: 4/10
Food: 7/10
Total: 11/20 = 55% (F) (It's already February and an F has already been given)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Tayeb Mandi
8409 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Phone: (832) 649-4111
Website: none
Facebook: none
Timings: Mon-Sun: 9 AM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kabab King Food Truck: Average Food, Less Impressive Service

Restaurant: Kabab King
Address: 6019 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 1/27/17

UPDATE 4/4/17: The place changed its name to Shawarma Stop.

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about another halal food truck. This is called Kabab King. Halal food trucks are growing in the Houston area, but barely are popular. The main reason is because of the lack of social media presence. It is literally because of social media that food trucks in the Houston area are a thing. The only halal ones that are really popular are Dasman Food Truck, Gyro King, and Abu Omar. All of that because of their wide presence in social media. I happened to stumble upon it after I saw it while driving to UH from my doctor's appointment. I was originally going to go to Tayeb Mandi to try mandi, but their doors were shut. I decided to grab a quick bute then head to UH for the Friday prayer and MSA meeting.



Let The Experience Begin!
The food truck is located at the Shell gas station at Almeda and North McGregor. Parking is limited, so it is likely that you would have to park at a pump and walk to the food truck. I was greeted by a grumpy man who was smoking next to his food truck and ignoring the fact that it is never ok to smoke next to a food truck. He got in and I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
According to the owner, the most popular item is the chicken shawarma. Sadly it wasn't available. I don't really know why it wasn't ready even though it opens pretty early. So I ended up getting a lamb gyro shawarma. Price? $6.48 (tax included). Not bad for a simple shawarma. The wait time was 5 minutes and 12 seconds. While waiting, I surfed through the flyer and saw the term "Best Shawarma in Town". The big question now is: is it ACTUALLY the best shawarma in town?



Menu:

https://www.doordash.com/store/kabab-king-houston-70683/?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=gpa (Menu prices are accurate; scroll down slightly to see the full menu).
This place is basically like an Mediterranean place on wheels. You have all sorts of kabab options that go with rice, and sides. They even have their own version of the Chicken Shawarma Arabi, something that I had really enjoyed recently from Abu Omar.

Lamb Gyro Shawarma


The Verdict:
To answer the question that I posted, it is a no. The shawarma was average. There was not that much flavor in the shawarma.



Conclusion:
There are definitely better places for shawarma out there. I have eaten both chicken and beef shawarmas in my life and have written up about them. This falls in the middle. If you want the best shawarma in town, then I suggest you look somewhere else.



Grading:
Service: 6/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 12/20 = 60% (D)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Kabab King
6019 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 740-3357
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kababkinghouston/
Timings: Mon-Sat: 10 AM - 1 AM; Sun: 6 PM - 1 AM
Caters: yes
Feel free to comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Thursday, January 26, 2017

El Beso Cantina: A Near Perfect Meal of a Mexican Favorite

Restaurant: El Beso Cantina
Address: 3821 Farnham Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte:
Date of visit: 1/6/17



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing about my experience at another new halal restaurant. This time it is called El Beso Cantina. This is the fourth place to offer halal Mexican or Tex-Mex ONLY since 2015 (the others are Bullritos at UH, AlCaliente, and El Plato Caliente). I found out about this on Instagram, when someone I follow (not another Houston/halal food account) posted about this place. They had a "We Serve Zabiha Halal" sign right outside the building entrance. I messaged them on Facebook, and confirmed that they were halal. I got to try it when I was going out. After attending Friday prayers, I headed to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
This restaurant is located where 59 Diner used to be, and right next to The Halal Guys. I got inside, welcomed, and helped to a table. After asking for some extra time, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I asked what the popular items are, and they said anything. Then I had noticed where it said "Popular Items" and decided to order machaga. Machaga is basically shredded beef with migas. Migas are a popular Tex-Mex and Mexican dish that comprises of sauteed corn tortillas with eggs scrambled with onions and jalapenos topped with salsa and jack cheese. I also got free chips and salsa. I paid a total price of $10.83 (tax included). The waiting time was 11 minutes and 32 seconds.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/elbesocantinahouston/menu/?p_ref=pa&ref=page_internal
Would you believe that a place like this uses halal chicken and beef?! By the way, the pork is cooked separately, as I have confirmed via Facebook message for both. The best part? It's open 24 hours! This is the first halal place to be open 24 hours a day! So whether you want a midnight snack or just simply feel hungry and can't find a place to eat late at night, this is a place that you can try! They even do all day breakfast and have an overnight menu and have a huge variety of items ranging from pancakes and crepes to surf and turf to Mexican food. Special thanks to the snapchat use for sending me screenshots of the overnight menu!


Overnight menu Page 1

Overnight menu Page 2

Machaga with migas and refried beans. They also give two tortillas

The Verdict:
A very flawless meal. There was a lot of flavor in the food. only issue was that the salsa was a tad overpowering. Nonetheless, a very good meal. Food was washed down with water, and there were no complaints about the food.



Conclusion:
It's nice to see another halal Mexican place open up in Houston, and much nicer to see them offer more halal Mexican options than M&M Grill. I hope they stick around for a long time, and also succeed with the late night crowd. I definitely would come back and try more items.



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



Restaurant Information:
El Beso Cantina
3801 Farnham Street, Houston, Texas
Phone: (832) 834-7157
Website: none
Timings: 24 Hours a Day Seven Days a Week
Caters: N/A

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Monday, January 16, 2017

OMG Burger: Halal Burgers in Katy 2.0

Restaurant: OMG Burger
Address: 1230 North Mason Road, Katy, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/4/17


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my first review of 2017! Why not start it off with another brand new halal burger place? This time, the place is called OMG Burger. Yup, you read that right. There's actually a place in San Antonio that has the same "OMG" name, but it's completely different. I found out about it from an email that was sent to me. I got to give it a try when a couple of my friends hung out with me.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located near the I-10 intersection. It is located in one of the new strip malls. I then decided to order, before the friends came.



Let's Eat!
Before the friends came, I ordered the OMG! original burger. It's basically the classic cheeseburger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles but with the OMG sauce. My friends ordered the SMH burger which had pepper jack cheese, sauteed onions, bell peppers, and buffalo ranch sauce (normally it comes with just grilled chicken, but he added a beef patty), and a set of wings (barbacoa and sour pepper). I paid $11.98 (tax included) for my food (I got a Mexican Pepsi as well). Waiting time for mine was 8 minutes and 31 seconds.



Menu:
Everything here is zabiha halal. AND GMO free. AND antibiotic free. Which means that the meat is fresh. The prices are actually similar to Stanton's.

Page 1. Photo Credit: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/omg-burger-katy-2?select=WfMuYPEmycoga3SZ_C5Dwg

Page 2. Photo Credit: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/omg-burger-katy-2?select=F_WepXH0z1slTQELV814hg


Clockwise from top: barbacoa and sour pepper wings, the OMG Burger, and the customizzed SMH Burger

The Verdict:
The verdict is that it was a hit and miss. The miss was my burger. Could've been a LOT better. The seasoning in the patty was little to none. The hit was the barbacoa wings. Really tasty and had flavor. I had a bite of the SMH burger and it was better than the original. The sour pepper wings were too zesty for my liking. Finally, the fries could have used more salt or Cajun seasoning. Overall, one thumb down for the original burger, one thumb up for the barbacoa wings, and side thumbs for the rest.
No complaints about the service at all. The people were polite and courteous.



Conclusion:
While the original burger was disappointing, I wouldn't mind eating the barbacoa wings again. I hope they will put some seasoning on their patties on the next visit I make soon.



Grading:
Food: 6.5/10
Service: 8/10
Total: 14.5/20 = 72.5% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
OMG Burger
1230 North Mason Road, Katy, Texas
Phone: (281) 717-4545
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/omgburgertx/
Timings: Mon-Thu: 10:30 AM - 9:30 PM; Fri-Sat: 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 8 PM
Caters: no

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Saturday, December 31, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: Crisp Doner Cafe: Not So Satisfactory Doners

Restaurant: Crisp Doner Cafe
Address: 2137 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/10/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! This will be a quick review. The last place I went in 2016 was a place that I had been anticipating for 6 months. It is called Crisp Doner Cafe. As an avid fan of doner kebap, I was eager to try this place out.



Let The Experience Begin!
It is located on highway 6 near the Memorial Drive intersection. The inside was very casual. You could see your food being made. I waited for 5 minutes and then ordered.



Let's Eat!
I decided to go away from the norm and try a classic doner footlong. The price was $10.81 (tax included). Waiting time was 7 minutes and 32 seconds.



Menu: This place mainly concentrates on doner, whether it's beef or chicken. Though the prices seem high, it's similar to the other Turkish places in town. Compared to the food truck, it had lower prices, but no combos.

Page 1

Page 2


Page 3



The Classic Doner Footlong

The Verdict:
Despite experimenting with it (putting one or both sauces inside the footlong), the doner was underwhelming. There was a lack in flavor. Couldn't they put in something like cheese like they did in their jalapeno sandwich? Anyways, the service was good. The people were really nice.



Conclusion:
Not the best doner I've ever had to be honest. I had something similar to this at Istanbul Grill and wasn't a fan at all. I'll try their wrap. If it's good, I'll come back, otherwise I would not recommend the place at all.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 15/20 = 75% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Crisp Doner Cafe
2137 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 506-7589
Website: http://www.crispdoner.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Crisp-Doner-Cafe-485118828295191/
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Unknown

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed