Saturday, September 28, 2013

Salateen Restaurant- Some hits, some misses

Restaurant- Salateen Restaurant
622 FM 1959 Houston, Texas 77034
Buffet or a-la-carte? Both available
Date of visit: 9/28/13

Salam/Hello guys! Today I will be reviewing Salateen restaurant, a restaurant that is near Ellington Field in Southeast Houston. The food is mainly Pakistani, which is similar to Indian cuisine. The major difference is that Pakistani food has beef. I was craving for some biryani as it had definitely been a while since I had some cooked by my mom. I haven't had the time to eat for a while because everyone in my family is so busy that all the week's food is cooked on Sunday and it had to last for the whole week. I needed to find some place near UH for some nice, cheap biryani. Southwest side of town was ruled out because a lot of their biryanis cost around $8 BY ITSELF. The cheapest ones right now are $5 after Friday Prayers at mosques all over Houston. Then I found this restaurant. This was literally the only restaurant that is near UH and not in the Southwest area that serves biryani. This is quite shocking considering how there are so many halal restaurants in Houston. Luckily, chemistry lab at UH got out at 11:30. Taking advantage of the early release, I left for the restaurant.

Let The Experience Begin:
Salateen is located a few blocks after the exit for Ellington Field. As I went in, the place was practically empty. For a few minutes, I was the only one in the restaurant eating the food. It felt weird to be honest. For lunch, the restaurant offers an option of either buffet or a-la-carte. One problem though: the people were STILL setting up the tables. Seriously, doesn't the restaurant being open mean that everything would be ready. When I came in, the cutlery was still being folded into the napkin. Suppose if someone came in and they wanted to do a-la-carte? The service would have been a lot slower, and the customer wouldn't have been happy. I have seen restaurants being busy preparing the food and tables before opening for business. Anyways the waitress saw me and asked how many people, and I replied just me. She then told me to sit wherever.

Let's Eat!
I decided to take a risk and go for the buffet. It's been nearly 4 months since I actually ate at a buffet in a restaurant. I wanted to see if it is worth eating a buffet at an Indian/Pakistani restaurant. I was hoping to have a better experience than what I had experienced at Inchin Bamboo Garden in Cleveland. Plus, it would allow me to sample various items from their menu. The buffet consisted of various Pakistani dishes, like biryani, chicken tikka masala, chicken karahi, beef nihari and tandoori chicken, and vegetarian options like palak paneer, mixed vegetables karahi, pakora, and dal channa. Along with it I got a Pepsi with free refills and free naan. The condiments were on the other side of the buffet spread. I paid a total of $12.97 (tax included), which is more on the expensive end. My main complaint was the price of the Pepsi: $1.99!! WHY CHARGE SO MUCH FOR A GLASS OF SODA????? I could buy a bottle of Pepsi from the convenient store for $1.59 instead of paying excessively. Only stadiums and amusement parks charge soda really high, NOT restaurants, unless you are dining under a celebrity chef. But in this case, there was no celebrity chef. Because this is a buffet, there is no points given for waiting time because the food is readily available to be eaten.

Menu: There's no separate menu on their website. You have to click on the types that are on top (appetizers, Tandoori, etc.) -->

Buffet. Condiments to the right. Main dishes on the left

Buffet helping #1 (biryani, karahi, tikka masala, pakora, tandoori chicken, and yogurt sauce)

Buffet helping #2 (biryani, karahi, tikka masala, tandoori chicken, nihari)

The Verdict:
Being a buffet, I had some pretty low standards. With this one, there were both hits and misses. First the hits. The best parts of the buffet were the naan, chicken tikka masala, and the tandoori chicken. Using a clay oven to make tandoori chicken is an excellent concept for an restaurant. It gives the feeling that you are back home in India or Pakistan and eating at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant knows for its tandoori chicken. The onions were a great addition to the tandoori chicken. The naan was nice and fresh. Not too crispy, not to soggy. The chicken tikka masala was cooked perfectly and there was a lot of flavor in it. Now the misses: the rest. Biryani is my favorite Indian dish, but this one missed the spot. The rice was very bland. I could barely taste any flavor in it. This biryani reminds of the one that was at Inchin Bamboo Garden in Cleveland. The karahi was quite oily, and that made it tasteless. The worst part was the nihari. It was one of the most soggiest niharis that I have eaten in my life. It was really cold. It seemed like it was out in the open for quite a long time. The pakora was also soggy. I have not heard of a soggy pakora before. All the pakoras that I have eaten were very fresh and crispy. Everything was drained with a couple glasses of Pepsi. Overall, one thumb up for the hits and one thumb down for the misses.

So was the risk worth it? The answer is no. Salateen, like most other Indian/Pakistani restaurants, has hits and misses. There are some stuff that are good, and there are some stuff that are awful. A buffet should have top quality of everything in the spread, not just a select few. But then again, we can't expect most buffets to have top quality right? They do, however, have a-la-carte only services in the evening, and I would try that. If you want to have an excellent Indian/Pakistani buffet, then I would suggest you look somewhere else around town. I know I will be waiting for a day where I will have an amazing buffet at an Indian/ Pakistani restaurant.

Service: 8/10 (1 point deducted for lack of preparation and overpriced soda)
Food: 6.5/10 (Good and bad stuff = not good overall)
Waiting Time: N/A
Total: 14.5/20 = 72.5% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$

Restaurant Information:
Salateen Restaurant
622 FM 1959 Houston, Texas 77034
Phone: (281) 372-6335
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 11 PM; Fri-Sun: 11:30 AM - 11 PM
Buffet Time: Open-4:00 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel Free to Comment Below!

Zain Mohammed

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