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

Windy City Grill & Pizza: A Taste of Chicago in Montgomery County

Restaurant: Windy City Grill & Pizza
Address: 1500 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/2/16


Background:
Salam/hey guys! At long last, we're now at not only the first review of December, but also the penultimate review of 2016. The place is called Windy City Grill & Pizza. Like many times, I found out about this place on Facebook. I called them up, and they said that everything was halal. I got to go here before I took my car for service. I was really hungry since I had not eaten anything the whole day. Since I didn't have any time to try out new places after the Mai Colachi visit, it was a refreshing feeling to come to a new place and try the food and a new type of American cuisine. You see, the word "Windy City" indicates that the food served is food that is popular in Chicago. Normally, you would be expecting another deep dish place right? Well, you have to read further down to see what is really offered.



Let The Experience Begin!
Windy City Grill & Pizza is actually located in the strip mall on Holly Hill Drive just after Research Forest Drive. Inside, the walls had pictures of everything Chicago related. I got up to the counter, asked if everything was halal just to make sure, and then proceeded to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Reuben on rye sandwich. The reason? I've always wanted to try pastrami and corned beef. In fact, this is the first place in the Houston area to offer pastrami and corned beef. The reuben is basically pastrami and corned beef along with sauerkraut on rye bread. It came with fries, coleslaw, and dressings. I paid $10.77 (tax included).



Menu: http://www.windycitygrillandpizza.com/menu
While D'Marcos in Sugar Land has deep dish as its specialty, this place focuses on other Chicago specialties. They have the Italian beef sandwich, a sandwich that originated in Chicago and is now a staple in Chicago cuisine, the Chicago dog, all-beef hot dog with relish, onions, sport peppers, dill pickle, tomatoes, and a special spice topped with mustard on a poppy seed bun (don't put ketchup on it), and a stuffed cannonball burger. Based on Yelp pics, the pizza seems to not use the deep dish style.


The Reuben Sandwich with fris, coleslaw, and dressing

The Verdict:
Pretty good I must say for a Reuben first timer. Everything else was good as well. No complaints about the service and they didn't seem annoyed when I asked them about having halal food.



Conclusion:
If I were to dine in the Woodlands again, I would stick to coming here. The food was good enough for me to give this place another try. I hope to try their pizza, Chicago dog, or the Italian beef sandwich the next few times I come.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 7.5/10
Total: 15.5/20 = 77.5% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Windy City Grill & Pizza
1500 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas
Phone: (281) 651-5194
Website: http://www.windycitygrillandpizza.com/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/windy.city16/
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 and Happy New Year!
Zain Mohammed

Quick Review: Mai Colachi: Hits and Misses Amidst the Ambiance

Restaurant: Mai Colachi
Address: 13849 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/29/16

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about my experience at a high end Pakistani restaurant called Mai Colachi. This is actually the second high end Pakistani place that I have visited since moving from Saudi. I wanted to try this place because I wanted to see if it was able to be like the ones that I used to enjoy in Saudi. What also got me interested was that the chef of the original Kolachi restaurant moved right here to the Houston area to become the executive chef at Mai Colachi. The time came for me to try the place when my family was invited to a party. This wasn't food catered specifically for the party. It was just a large gathering at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Mai Colachi is located near the 59 and Sugar Creek/Dairy Ashford Drive intersection. The inside was pretty fancy and very dark as well. The ambiance was really nice. After everyone was seated, it was time to eat!



Let's Eat!
The host ordered for us a variety of dishes. We got khatti daal, karahi mutton, karahi chicken (both of which I am assuming to be the Colachi karahi), naan, and keemari jeengha karahi. To wait, we just sat and talked.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Colachi.US/menu/?p_ref=pa
Pretty fancy if you ask me. This isn't your typical hole-in-the-wall or mom-and-pop Pakistani places. Prices are pretty high compared to the other Pakistani places, but it's a higher end place. They have steak as well (though I wonder if they would do any other temperature than well done), and interestingly Jujeh kabab.


Clockwise from top left: Colachi chicken karahi, khate daal, Colachi muttom karahi, keemari jeengha karahi, and naan

The Verdict:
I really liked how the food was presented. They bring the pan that is used to cook the food. Anyways, out of the food items, I enjoyed the shrimp, mutton, and naan. Lots of flavor in the karahis and the naan was nice and fluffy. The daal was just ok, but the chicken was the least favorite. There was little to no salt in the chicken karahi. All the food was washed with water, and there were no complaints of the service.



Conclusion:
Despite the chicken and daal failing to impress, I certainly wouldn't mind coming and trying these items again as well as trying their tikka and kabab. This is a pretty good place for you guys to go to if it's a special occasion or just want to try some high end Pakistani food.



Grading:
Food: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Total: 15.5/20 = 77.5% (C)
Pricing: $$$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Mai Colachi
13849 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas
Phone: (281) 240-0786
Website:  none
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Colachi.US/
Timings: Mon-Thu & Sun: 11:30 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11:30 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

CLOSED: El Plato Caliente: Not Just Tex-Mex, but Authentic Mexican Food as Well

Restaurant: El Plato Caliente
Address: 17118 West Little York Rod, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/26/16

UPDATE 1/17/17: This place has closed down.

Backgound:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing up about the 2nd new halal Mexican place to open up this year. It's called El Plato Caliente (Hot Plate in Spanish). I first heard about this place on Facebook. Someone said it was fully halal. I confirmed with the restaurant owner that it is indeed fully halal. Let's see if this place can have items that are either unique or can easily be another M&M Grill replacement.



Let The Experience Begin!
El Plato Caliente is located at the old location of BBQ Village, which moved and expanded next door. It turned out that this is owned by the same people. But when I went in, it was nothing like what it used to be. The inside was decorated everywhere. I then got in and a Hispanic guy helped me.



Let's Eat!
Without any hesitation, I ordered the barbacoa tacos. Barbacoa is a specialty of Mexico. It's basically slow cooked and shredded beef or sheep. This is the first halal Mexican place to have halal barbacoa. For the tortillas, I got the flour ones. I also got some free chips and salsa. I paid $8.65 (tax included).



Menu: Out of all the halal Mexican places in Houston, this has the most options, AND it's fully halal! They have menudo (beef tripe soup), the usual fajitas, enchiladas, and chimichangas, and steak! They even have a chicken version of al pastor, which is huge since al pastor is almost always pork. One thing though, at least put your menu on your Facebook page or create the website. The menu pics came from the owner who posted the entire menu on a Facebook group.

Page 1 of the menu

Page 2 of the menu

Barbacoa Taco and the Free Chips and Salsa 

The Verdict:
Solid food. The lamb had a lot of flavor. To eat it properly, you add the onions and cilantro and put some lime (not too much) in top of the meat, onions, and cilantro, and eat it. The salsa was hot. Not only hot as in spicy, hot temperature as well. I always thought it should be served cold. I am not too sure if it is ok to serve hot salsa (if anyone reading this is an expert in Mexican food, feel free to comment below). Nevertheless, good food, and no complaints about the service.



Conclusion:
If you do not want to drive to M&M Grill in the Medical Center, then you should check this place out for some halal Mexican food. You don't get a lot of the stuff you see here at the other halal Mexican places in town. Since I live 10 minutes away from this restaurant, I see myself coming here more often.



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



Restaurant Information:
El Plato Caliente
17118 West Little York Rod, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 999-9146
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elpatocaliente/
Timings: Tue-Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 10 AM - 9 PM; Mon: closed
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Friday, December 30, 2016

LIT BBQ & Co: Halal Texas BBQ in Houston 5.0

Stall: Lit BBQ Co.
Address: varies
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. Today, I'll be talking about the 5th installment of halal Texas BBQ on this blog, Lit BBQ Co. Can you believe that this is the 5th installment? For this place, I'll be doing something different. I'll be summarizing both experiences. I say this because after the first trip, I immediately went back the next week, taking a friend from Atlanta. The review from the first trip hadn't been written up at the time because exams were going on and I was focusing on getting back on track (thankfully I passed all my classes). And that focus is the reason why I've been behind on my write-ups. Anyways, I wanted to try this after reading online about the place starting up as a mobile catering business (another way of saying a mobile stall). It's not a food truck, since it's on a trailer. While my parents and sister were out, I decided to give the place a try.



Let The Experience Begin!
At the time of the visits, the stall was located at the parking lot of Kababi Zaytoon (9001 Louetta Road). You get out, go to where the trailer is, and then place your order.



Let's Eat!
On the first visit, I ordered a baked potato with brisket. On the second visit, both me and my friend got the brisket sandwiches and the ribs.



Menu:
No definite menu is available. The food items available is based on what it's said on Facebook. However, the prices are cheaper compared to what other BBQ places in Texas cost. The estimates prices were under $15! One setback from both trips was that it was only open on Friday and Saturday nights.


Baked Potato

Ribs on Top and Brisket Sandwich opened on bottom

The Verdict:
The food impressed me on both visits. Despite the baked potato being small, it was still good nonetheless. The ribs and brisket were tasty as well and had a lot of flavor. The service was good on the first day, but not the second day. The people were really nice and were really helpful, but on the second day, they came much later than the 9:30 PM slot they said on Facebook. This is a major no-no, as the place would lose customers if the owner would not come at the specific time that was announced.



Conclusion:
I honestly hope that Lit BBQ doesn't suffer the same fate that the other places (except the Bark BBQ) faced, which is either shutting down or removing halal meat. They should however come up with a full menu (a must for any mobile unit). If you want some halal Texas BBQ during the night time, then you should give this place a try!
Now before I finish this review up, I am going to take this moment to speak to you: the reader. Ever since I started blogging nearly 4 years ago, I have always heard many people talk about how there should be a halal Texas BBQ place. The desire for it has always been high because 1) Texas is a major BBQ state, and 2) many people who have lived in Texas all their lives have never got to try it at all. Here's the thing, desiring is one thing, but supporting and making sure that it is open is a completely different thing. The fact that many do not realize that the previous sentence is applicable is the main reason why we are at a 5th BBQ establishment these past 4 years. Normally when you hear that there have been 5 BBQ places that use halal meat, it would mean that it is a huge hit especially with the Muslim population. The reality is the stark opposite. Out of the 5, only 2 are still in business. One is because they just started out a few months back, the other is because of the support of the non-Muslims. Two shut down and one stopped serving halal due to "unforseen circumstances". So why did two of the places close down? The answer is simple: prices. When Chopped N Smoked used to be in business, one of the complaints that I have been hearing were the prices. When I compared the prices of them to Killen's BBQ in Pearland (where they don't cook their zabiha halal brisket separately from their pork), I realized it was a repeat of what I always see many people do: complaining about halal restaurant prices while not minding non-halal restaurant prices. Those people complaining about the prices at halal places, and many others, do not mind paying similar or even more at places such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or even La Madeline for seafood or vegetarian options. Some even don't mind eating at places that use either alcohol in their cooking (alcohol evaporation chart: https://www.oasas.ny.gov/admed/fyi/fyi-cooking.cfm) or not cooking separately from the pork (why you should avoid bbq restaurants even if they have halal beef: http://muslimeater.com/2015/10/16/why-you-should-avoid-bbq-restaurants-even-if-they-have-halal-beef/). Here's the thing, paying a significant amount for some cuts of beef is real. Ribs and brisket are expensive cuts of meat, as confirmed by one of the BBQ owners that I have met. The only way we can all be happy about having a halal Texas BBQ place is if we learn to accept that halal Texas BBQ is significantly priced higher than some cuisines, just like it is with Killen's, Franklin's in Austin, and countless other BBQ places. If you are not convinced, let me ask you this. Would you love to enjoy halal Texas BBQ like a typical Texan without the pork, or would you rather see halal Texas BBQ places get shut down and the owners being upset about the lack of support from the Muslim community after they do you guys a favor by providing the exact same things as a typical Texas BBQ place without the pork? It's up to you.



Grading: Based on both visits
Food: 9/10
Service: 7/10 (Points deducted for late arrival)
Total: 16/20 = 80% (B)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Lit BBQ Co.
Location varies
Phone: (832) 431-0518 (If you live in Houston, then I strongly suggest you save this number. You can order via text for catering or even ask for the menu of the day)
Website: None
Timings: per Facebook: Fri-Sat: 9:30 PM - 2 AM
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Abu Omar Halal Food Truck: Finally Found a Good Regular Shawarma Spot

Food Truck: Abu Omar Halal Food Truck
Address: 2116 Fry Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/5/16


UPDATE: Their Katy location is now at 1810 Fry Road. They also have a location in Webster at 580 Eldorado Road.

Background:
Salam/hey guys! On this day, I tried Abu Omar Halal Food Truck. I heard a lot about this place, and about how great their shawarmas are. They've been open since my days at UH, but I never got to try them. My interest in trying them spiked when their Katy truck first started operating. I had time before my next class, so I decided to go.



Let The Experience Begin!
At the time of the visit, the food truck was located near the Fort Stanton Drive location. I parked, and went to order the food.



Let's Eat!
I ordered a regular chicken shawarma. I got it with vegetables. Price? $6.50. Waiting time? About 6 minutes.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Abu-omar-halal-103499869990386/menu/?p_ref=pa&ref=page_internal
It's mainly the usual Mediterranean fare, but on a food truck. No mixed grill though. One thing that's different than Gyro King at the Medical Center location is that they have drinks for sale.



The Chicken Shawarma
The Verdict:
The shawarma was really good. However, there were some vegetables missing, though the menu on Facebook said that those vegetables were included as well. The missing of the vegetables were indicative of the service. It seemed like the ordering process was rushed. Nevertheless, good stuff.


Conclusion:
Despite the mess-up on the vegetables, Abu Omar still has a solid shawarma. I would definitely come back to try the other items. I would also recommend you to give this place a try. A huge perk is that they are open until late in all locations.



Grading:
Food: 8/10 (Would've been graded higher if all the vegetables were in there)
Service: 6/10
Total: 14/20 = 70% (C)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information (Current Katy location)
Abu Omar Halal
1810 Fry Road, Katy, Texas
Phone: (832) 929-9339
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abu-omar-halal-103499869990386/?fref=ts (really important to save this page as they are active on here)
Instagram: instagram.com/abu_omar_halal (I suggest you follow them as they are very active on here)
Timings: Daily 11 AM - 3 AM
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed