Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bundu Khan Kabab House- Best Pakistani Kababs in Town

Restaurant: Bundu Khan Kabab House
10941 FM 1960 Houston, Texas 77070
Buffet or a-la-carte: Neither
Date of visit: 12/26/13


Source: http://s3-media2.ak.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/xiNH-BN0VMI0R4OXkKPuvg/l.jpg



UPDATE 8/13/16:
It's one of the few Indian/Pakistani places where I wouldn't mind going to. All the kebabs I've had were amazing, but without a doubt, the biggest standout is the bihari kabab. Heck, I almost always order the bihari kabab when I go there because it is just that good lol.

Background:
Salam/hey guys! After a wonderful 6 days in Dallas, I am back in Houston. Today I am reviewing Bundu Khan Kabab House. Now this isn't any ordinary review. This is a takeout review. In a takeout review, I get the food from the restaurant, go home, eat the food, and then review it. Or I sometimes eat in the car if it is something light. We decided to get food from here as we were driving back from Dallas. It had been a long ride, and we were all tired. So my dad had called up the restaurant and placed the order. Bundu Khan has been very successful, and it is one of the few restaurant that has been in business since I came to Houston in 2006. It has locations on FM 1960 and Jones Road, and Bissonet. We drove to the FM 1960 location as it was on the way to our house. After battling through crazy drivers and post-holiday traffic, we arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Bundu Khan is located right opposite Tempura Grill (Review coming soon). While it may look dark from the outside, the inside was very bright. There was one hall for regular diners, and one hall for parties. There's a menu on top, but it is all spread out. There were no prices on it. However, there was only one paper that had all the menu items. Instead of us seeing it, the cashier fills it out when we order from the wall. But thankfully you can still see the prices, so you could know how much you are paying. There was also a cooler which had all the drinks that you could choose from.



Let's Eat!
During the car ride, we ordered 4 chicken tikka legs, naan, and one bihari kabab. They came with cucumbers, onions, lemons, and raita. Altogether, we paid $33.50 (tax included), which is $8.37 a person. This is not bad considering that this was food for a family of 4. The waiting time was 20 minutes, as said by the cashier himself. By the time we got there, it was ready and waiting for us to be taken and gobbled up. Note, chicken tikka is not the same as the fake Indiah/Pakistani dish (a.k.a. chicken tikka masala). Bihari kabab is basically meat marinated in spice and grilled. The food is grilled right behind the cashier, so the food is always fresh.



Menu: http://www.bundukhanhouston.com/menu/
Surprisingly this is the second time I have been to a Indian or Pakistani restaurant that does not have Biryani! They don't even have any form of rice either! The only other restaurant without biryani is Tandoori Nite. Biryani is a staple dish in both Pakistani and Indian cuisines. While it is eaten at special occasions like weddings in their respective countries, it's usually eaten on a weekly basis in the Western world. In fact, when my family go and eat at Indian/Pakistani restaurants, we usually order biryani because it's our one dish that we all like. Another example is at the local mosques, where all the men expect to be served biryani after the prayer. If there is no biryani, and there is different food, then the people get upset like little babies. Anyways, one thing I would recommend is that there should be a mixed grill. Like one piece of tikka, seekh, both chicken and beef boti, and bihari kababs. The price should not exceed $15. Another thing I do not understand is why is goat expensive? Goat is widely eaten by Indians and Pakistanis, so it should be more affordable.


Chicken tikka, raita, onion, bihari kabab, and naan


Tbe Verdict:
This place definitely has some great food! The flesh of the tikka was full of flavor, and it was marinated and cooked to perfection! The bihari kabab was the clear winner. It was one of the best Pakistani kababs that I have ever had in my life! It reminded me a lot of the restaurant my family used to eat from many times back in Saudi Arabia. The naan was very fluffy, and had a lot of flavor. The chutney was not too spicy, so it was enjoyable. The food was drained by a couple glasses of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
While the food was top-notch, the service was normal. Nothing to praise or criticize. Got the food, paid, and left the restaurant.



Conclusion:
If you want some really delicious Pakistani kababs, and are in the North side of Houston, then this place is perfect for you. With great tasting food and a place where you can take a group of people and eat, you will enjoy this place. I know I would go back and eat there again.



Grading Information:
Service: 7/10
Food: 10/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 27/30 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Bundu Khan Kabab House
10941 FM 1960 Houston, Texas 77070
Phone: (281) 477-7897
Website: http://www.bundukhanhouston.com/
Facebook: None
Timings: Wed-Mon: 12 PM - 10 PM; Tue: closed
Caters: yes

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jimmy's Big Burgers: Big Burgers in Big D

Restaurant: Jimmy's Big Burgers
3611 14th Street, Plano, Texas 75074
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/24/13


Outside. Photo Credit: Me


Background:
Salam/hey guys! This is probably my final review of a restaurant in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Currently the status is that we are going back to Houston tomorrow evening. I will definitely review more restaurants whenever I visit again. So the final stop in this city is Jimmy's Big Burgers. While the other two were in Richardson, this particular restaurant was in Plano, and it has another one on Independece Avenue west of US 75. After delays since arriving in Dallas, I finally had some quality guy time with my uncle. All we needed is a restaurant to go with our Audi that we had. So I decided to go to this restaurant. I remember someone actually recommending me this restaurant, saying that it was as good as Olive Burger in Richardson. So, after a few stops in Allen for some work, and a bullet ride on US 75, we arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Jimmy's Big Burgers is located at the intersection of 14th Street and Shiloh behind the gas station. This resembles the restaurants that are located at gas stations on major interstates. While most of them serve country food or Texas cuisine, this one serves burgers and sandwiches. Inside, there were two TVs, a bunch of tables, a place where you get your condiments and cutlery, and the cashier. We confirmed the halal status of the restaurant and after reading the menu, my uncle and I proceeded to order.



Let's Eat!
My uncle ordered the Philly chicken sandwich. Philly chicken is exactly like the Philly cheesesteak, but instead of beef, it has chicken. To drink, he got a glass of Coke. I initially wanted to order the Double Jungle Burger, but after I heard you could customize the burger, I ordered the same thing with an extra patty. Altogether, the burger consisted of three patties, sauteed onions, mushrooms, jalapenos, bell peppers, bacon, American and Provolone cheese, mayo, ketchup, Hickory BBQ sauce, Mustard, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Pickles. This definitely has the most components that I have ever seen in a burger! It even has more components than the loaded double burger from M&M back in Houston! To add to that behemoth, I got a side of seasoned curly fries and a glass of water. we paid around $20 (tax included). The waiting time for everything was only 7 minutes and 25 seconds! This is great considering how big the burger was.



Menu (click to enlarge):

Burgers

Sandwiches

Appetizers, sides, quesadillas, drinks, salads, desserts, and kids menu
 
Like Olive Burger, all the burgers cost less than $10. However, making a combo is 25 cents cheaper here than it is at Olive Burger. There are far more choices of food  here than there are at Olive. Most importantly, while Olive Burger uses both pork and turkey/beef bacon, Jimmy's does not use any pork products in their menu, which gives it a huge advantage in both business and customer loyalty. Otherwise, it is like a halal version of Fuddruckers.


Philly Chicken


Triple Jungle Burger with Curly Fries

The Verdict:
Judging by the looks, one may say that the burger is overdone and that it was very dry. The reality: it was awesome! Honestly, the taste was as good as Olive Burger. "Why does it look black?" one may ask. Well, the answer to that is the hickory BBQ sauce, and the turkey bacon. The patties were cooked to perfection, with the slight pink indicating that it was medium-well. The burger was so big that it was not able for all of it to fit in my mouth. I needed a knife and fork to eat through the behemoth burger. When I actually finished the burger, both my uncle and the server were surprised at how I was able to finish it without belching or giving up! I guess my appetite comes from the days back in Saudi Arabia, where I would make it a priority to eat something whenever my family would go out, and it would turn out to be the biggest shawarma or cheesebread available. The curly fries were seasoned perfectly. It felt great to eat curly fries again, as they are only found in non-Zabihah restaurants back in Houston. I managed to take a bite out of the Philly Chicken, and it also tasted great! It reminded me of the wonderful Philly chicken I had a long time ago at Busy Boy when I was still in middle school. My uncle said himself that the food was alright. All the food was washed down by a nice glass of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was great too. The gentleman that helped us was very nice! I was having trouble taking pictures of the menu that was displayed on the wall, but he told me that there are menus on the side. This is critical as people in the past have gotten into trouble with restaurant employees and even owners for snapping pictures of their food or menus. While ordering the food, we had a nice chat about how we heard of the restaurant and he told me that there was once a person who ate a 6 patty burger, and would ask me whether I could take a shot at it. Yes I'm a guy with an appetite, but I have my limits :P But nevertheless, the whole conversation was lighthearted, and he made us feel welcome in the restaurant.



Conclusion:
So the big question: Olive Burger or Jimmy's Big Burgers. This is a particularly tough one. The last sort of comparison I did was with the three biryani-centered restaurants back in Houston. Also, that comparison was definitely a no-brainer for me. But this one is different. Taste wise, they were the same: fresh, and awesome tasting. They both were not overpriced, and they had combo deals. After thinking it over, I decided that it's gonna be a tie. Regarding pork being served in a restaurant, like Olive Burger, as long as you tell them to put the beef/turkey bacon, you should be fine. For those who believe that there is a slight chance of cross contamination: it is best that you trust the restaurant people, hoping that they would not cross contaminate the meat. If they do anything wrong, then THEY would be answerable to God for the actions that they did without the customer even knowing. The customer, on the other hand, will be forgiven by God, and it would be a nice reminder to avoid ordering bacon with their meat at that specific restaurant. Another, much simpler thing to do is to NOT ORDER BACON AT ALL. It's not rocket science. If there is anything on the menu that states that bacon is part of the dish, JUST FREAKING TELL THEM NOT TO PUT IT ON! This also applies at any halal restaurant if you feel skeptical about whether they use pork bacon or turkey bacon. All halal restaurants that serve pork bacon actually cook it separately from the other meats, while turkey/beef bacon is cooked with the halal meat. Whether the cooks are Muslim or not, it is well known that Muslims cannon eat anything pork related or pork byproducts, so they actually cook separately. I have actually seen a cook make a really delicious halal dish for me separately from the other meats. Whenever I visit Stanton's City Bites back in Houston, I tell them to not put bacon, and they actually listen! They themselves are aware of not putting bacon in the burgers, or even cooking it with the burgers when told not to because it is an extremely popular restaurant with young Muslims, and if cross contamination was there, they would lose a lot of business. Also, the people running it are non-Muslim! Even zabihah.com, the most popular halal food search engine in the world, explicitly states that "a vast majority" of people "are comfortable with this as long as there is a halal food option for them when dining out". So, take a chill pill, go out, and eat some good food!

Source from zabihah.com: http://www.zabihah.com/cf.php

Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 10/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 30/30 = 100 % (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Jimmy's Big Burgers
3611 14th Street, Plano, Texas 75074
Phone: (972) 423-2611
Website: http://jimmysburger.com/index.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JimmysBigBurgersEastWestPlano
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimmysBurgerTX (Or follow them @JimmysBurgerTX)
Timings: Mon-Sun: 10 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes
Delivery available

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

OPINION: Why hookah is bad for you.

Recently, people have started flocking to Mediterranean restaurants. Are they there because of the food? Nope. Are they there because of growth in interest in belly dancers? Nope. Are they there because of the sudden popularity of falafel? Again, no. So why are Mediterranean restaurants suddenly becoming popular? The answer: hookah.
What is hookah? Hookah is an object that is used to inhale or smoke tobacco. Instead of the usual cigarettes, the smoke is passed through the water pipe. Hookah originated in the Levant region (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, etc.), which has been common for many centuries. Only recently has it been introduced to the rest of the word and it's gaining popularity at an exponential rate. In fact, the following is getting so big that they now have separate hookah flavors.
Why are people getting hooked on hookah? Simple. They want to be "cool" or it's something that is "worth trying out". Also, it's something foreign that intrigues the public. They feel that they would be left out of the mix of they were to not do it. Lastly, they would claim that "it's safer than smoking cigarettes". Because of these reasons, many restaurants are judged based on whether they have hookah or not. It's like people judging restaurants based on whether alcohol is sold or not. What I have noticed is that Mediterranean restaurants that have hookah are bustling, while Mediterranean restaurants that don't have any hookah is nearly empty, just like most restaurants being empty because no alcohol is sold. Heck, there is one restaurant on Houston (will not tell the name) in which their food sucks but they have very good business just because of the hookah. For financial incentives, people have started opening up "hookah lounges", establishments dedicated to serving solely hookah to people. And according to one of my friends, these places are always packed with people smoking.
So, here's the cold, hard truth. HOOKAH IS THE SAME AS SMOKING. In fact, smoking hookah is a lot worse than smoking cigarettes. According to a 2005 study on hookah smoking by the World Health Organization, in an one hour hookah smoking session, people consume between 100-200 times more smoke than the average cigarette, and they actually have the same harmful substances as the typical cigarette. This can lead to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which basically means that your lung is like a cigarette smoker's lung. It can also lead to oral, lung, stomach and esophageal cancer, and birth defects in a child if a woman is pregnant and smokes. From the mouthpiece alone, one is at risk for herpes, and tuberculosis according to the health department from the city of Alexandria, Virginia.
To make matters worse, while hookah smoking is done outside in the Levant region, hookah smoking is done INSIDE the restaurant. When you enter the restaurant, it would smell like someone took a huge dump from the bathroom, and the smell is still lingering throughout the establishment. What I don't get is that some of these places actually forbid smoking CIGARETTES, yet they allow people to smoke hookah inside. Hookah is smoking but with different flavors, so putting up the "no smoking" sign is complete hypocrisy. This fart-like smell, also considered secondhand smoking, makes nonsmokers like me susceptible to respiratory diseases, infections, and cancer.
Another important point that I want to mention is that hookah addicts often claim that there are "non-tobacco" hookahs that are herbal and that "they are much healthier than the regular hookah". Is this right? WRONG! Hookah is hookah, and smoke is smoke. The herbal ones contain tar an carcinogens and pose the same health risks as regular hookah.
So what's the best way to stop smoking. Simple. DON'T GO TO HOOKAH PLACES. I know quitting hookah is not an overnight thing, just as smoking cigarettes. Like you can start by only going to places that do not serve hookah. Or you can focus more on healthier activities such as playing sports or dieting. Or, most importantly, stop hanging out with people that encourage you to do hookah. For example, I had a friend who used to smoke. I opted to help him out. I told him to stop hanging out with people who smoke on a daily basis. Then I showed him pictures of what a smoker's lung looks like. He actually listened to my opinion, and he is no longer a smoker. It is possible for you to quit and become a better person because what is more important: respect for yourself and your body, or sucking up to hookah addicts?

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hookah



The lung above represents a normal lung, and the lung below represents a cigarette smoker's lung. Because hookah smoking is a lot worse than cigarette smoking, imagine what a hookah smoker's lung would look like. Source: http://hafif.org/imaj/Togepi/smokers-lung.jpg


If you have any questions, please email me at zain.mohammed93@gmail.com or simply comment below!

Later!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bombay Chopstix- A great Indo-Chinese Restaurant

Restaurant: Bombay Chopstix
2160 North Coit Road, Richardson, Texas 75080
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/21/13


The outside. Photo credit: Me


Background:
Salam/hey guys! I am still on vacation in Dallas. I bring to you today another restaurant: Bombay Chopstix. It's mainly Chinese, but it has Indian dishes available too. While the trip to Olive Burger was a casual trip with my uncle, the trip here was a family dinner. This restaurant is also located in Richardson, and it also has a branch in Irving. The main reason for going here was because my family was going to meet up, eat, and go and watch an Indian movie (which turned out to be horrible). This was rather a last minute notice, as I was shopping at the Allen Premium Outlets with my uncle. So after picking up my dad, we arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Bombay Chopstix was quite a big restaurant. There were not one, but three TVs. One was showing a singing show on the local NBC station, and the other two I do not know. Right in front of the door was the cashier, and right behind them was the kitchen. After getting the family together, we decided to order.



Let's Eat!
We ordered a lot of things, since this was a family dinner. We ordered chicken hot and sour soup, chicken lollipops, spring rolls, chicken Desi fried rice, Chicken Manchurian, Noodles, American chop suey, and Garlic chicken. To drink, we all got water. The price for each thing was between $7-$9 (tax included) so it did not take a huge bite out of my aunt's wallet. 
Now about the waiting time. Whenever there is a dining party of more than two people, the rules change. And this is also according to the cuisine. This is because in most Asian (including Indian) restaurants, they give you a huge dish of the stuff you ordered, even if you are dining in by yourself. It's basically like the dish that you use to serve everyone at the dining table at home. In every other cuisine, each person is given individual dishes. Like for example, when I went to Famous Hamburger in Dearborn, they didn't give me, my uncles, and my cousins burgers in one huge platter. They gave them individually. So this is how it's gonna work. If we dine in any restaurant that serve their food in dishes than individually, then after two people, for every additional person that comes and is affiliated with my dining group, an additional one minute will be added to the waiting time limit. If they serve the food in individual dishes, then after two people, for every additional person that comes and is affiliated with my dining group, an additional three minutes will be added tot he waiting time limit. If they do a mix, then the waiting time will favor the group dining rules that I just spelled out. Now in the case of Bombay Chopstix, they do a mix. The soups come individually, while the rest come in either plates or dishes. Thankfully, all the food that we ordered were within the time minute. The grand total was 25 minutes and 52 seconds. Great job on efficiency!



The menu definitely resembles Masala Wok. Like the price to be paid depends on what protein you choose. Now to make a dish Indian, just add paneer (cottage cheese). Price-wise, this is a bit more expensive than Masala Wok. No specific item on the menu particularly interests me, as they are common in Chinese restaurants everywhere.


Chicken Hot and Sour Soup

Spring roll

Chicken Lollipops

Chicken Desi Fried Rice

Chicken Desi Fried Rice, Noodles, and Chicken Manchurian

American Chop Suey and Garlic chicken


The Verdict:
The food was delicious except the American chop suey. The chop suey was way too sweet for my liking. The reason for the sweetness was because of the sweet and sour sauce, and sweet and sour sauce does not taste good with noodles. Out of all the stuff that was delicious, the victor was the chicken lollipops. It was so good that I decided to have extra pieces of it and eat the accompanying sauce by itself! Second place was the Manchurian. It reminded me of the really delicious one I had at my favorite restaurant back in Saudi Arabia (closed down unfortunately). Now when you order the Desi fried rice, be careful of the green chilies! Once you accidentally bite one of them, IT IS PURE HELL! I think I bit into them at least eight times. I drank nearly all of my water, and the glass was really big! Nevertheless, the meal was enjoyable.
The service was alright. The people were really helpful in getting the stuff out of the way for the other food to come! It was critical as we had ordered three of each dish, and we were spread out over three tables! One thing I particularly do not understand is that you have to get plates and cutlery by yourself. If this was a buffet, I would understand, but for an a-la-carte, why? Can't they just give it to us before they give us the food? 



Conclusion:
Bombay Chopstix is a good place to eat whether you are with people or by yourself. Just avoid the American chop suey and you will enjoy the food! I will come back and try this place again, and I would recommend this to someone who is really picky and require food to have a Desi element in it. Overall, good job!



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



Restaurant Information:
Bombay Chopstix
2160 North Coit Road, Richardson, Texas 75080
Phone: (972) 889-8588 
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri: 11 AM - 10:30 PM; Sat: 12 PM - 10:30 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below! 

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed 

Olive Burger- Dallas's Answer to M&M Grill

Restaurant: Olive Burger
451 West Arapaho Road, Richardson, Texas 75080
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/21/13


Photo Credit: (http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/olive-burger-richardson?selected=JF8eh_2ovIaIa2j4-eQ1cg#D3AOnSn2C8zNQKAnEjecCA)


Background:
Salam/hey guys! For the first time in 6 months, I'm outside Houston! I am right now in Allen, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas. Today I will be reviewing Olive Burger, a burger restaurant that is located in nearby Richardson. Someone I know had suggested Olive Burger to me, saying that it was like M&M Grill back in Houston. He said it, in the sense that it had the best burgers in all of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. I've actually had burgers while visiting a long time back. They were decent. Sadly, when I last came here in 2012 (I started this blog March 2013), that place has closed down. With another burger place available, I was interested in trying it out. I went with my uncle who was visiting from Kansas City here, as he himself is a foodie and likes to try places. After battling through holiday traffic, we arrived at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Olive Burger is located on West Arapaho road just before the Custer road intersection. Note, when you get off US 75, be sure to be in the right-most lane because the turning to the restaurant is a few blocks after the exit! It is located in a strip mall that is opposite to an Enterprise rental car company. As you come inside, the kitchen is right in front of you, and in front of it is the cashier. You could actually see the people making the burgers and the other stuff too! What caught my eye was the way they were making the chili cheese fries, that delicious-looking chili being added to the perfectly cooked fries. Anyways, the inside was rather interesting. They had various bumper stickers and a portrait of the Godfather and Al Pacino! There was a TV that was showing a Christmas film on the local NBC station. And man it was packed! There were families eating and chatting on the table, even though it was nearly 3 PM! So after waiting a while in the line, we were ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Ultimate Cheeseburger, which is a 1/2 lb patty with three pieces of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, bacon (beef of course), avocado, sauteed mushrooms, and onions. My uncle ordered the olive cheeseburger with no tomatoes and pickles, and plain fries. To drink, we both got a bottle of Pepsi. I did not pay for the food, but the price range was between $15 and $17 (tax included). The way you get your food is similar to M&M. They give you a number, and you wait until they call it. The waiting time was a modest 8 minutes and 13 seconds.



Well it's cheaper than M&M, but the choices are narrower than them. It's like your typical American diner, where you have burgers, sandwiches, sides, and drinks, while M&M has various Mexican and Mediterranean dishes. Oh, and the restaurant has both pork and turkey/beef bacon. Be sure to tell them (politely) to put the turkey/beef bacon instead of the pork bacon. They do, however, cook them separately.


Ultimate Cheeseburger

Olive Cheeseburger


The Verdict:
Long story short: This triumphs the last burger I had in Dallas. It was a great burger! The fries were also crispy and delicious. My uncle really liked his olive cheeseburger. The food was washed down with a bottle of Pepsi. Overall, two thumbs up for the food.
The service was also good. The only drawback was the calling of the numbers when the order was food. This is important because the customer should be able to hear their number being called when it is ready instead of someone yelling it out while there are a lot of customers eating their delicious food because they don't want their food to be cold! I would suggest they get a microphone so that they could call out the numbers when the food is ready.



Conclusion:
Is Olive Burger like M&M Grill? Yes. The reason why? They are, in my opinion, the best burger restaurants in their respective cities. If you are visiting Dallas, you should definitely make a stop here to grab a bite! Trust me, you guys will really like it! And it won't take a huge bite out of your wallet! I know I am definitely coming here again the next time I visit Dallas.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 10/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 29/30 = 96.7% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Olive Burger
451 West Arapaho Road, Richardson, Texas 75080
Phone: (972) 231-5842
Website: none
Timings: Mon-Fri: 10:30 AM - 9 PM; Sat: 11 AM - 9 PM; Sun closed
Caters: Yes


Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nikoz Fusion Grill- Similar to Nando's, but much better

Nikoz Fusion Grill
16754 Southwest Freeway #A, Sugar Land, Texas 77479
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/18/13


Credit: https://giftcards.quickgifts.com/images/merchantlogos/nikoz%20fusion%20grill_10178.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today, I'm reviewing Nikoz Fusion Grill, which is a Mediter-Asian Cuisine restaurant. In other words, it's a fusion of Greek, Mediterranean, Indian, and Asian cuisine. I was finally free from finals week as I completed my last final earlier today. So I had decided to visit this place. The main reason I came here was because I took Mo Sabri here last Saturday when I dropped him off at his hotel, but I did not eat anything as I was on a rush to drive back on Cypress. If I was allowed to eat that day, then I would have reviewed this restaurant. To top it all, I actually told the owner that I would come and try the food as soon as possible! Today was the only time I had because the next day, I am leaving for Dallas for the holidays. Also, I am no longer taking Saturday classes, so the once a week restaurant trips is reaching its end. Lastly, my schedule for next semester is so tight that if I forget my lunch at my house, I have to either eat halal food on campus (hopefully the food trucks will still be there, as they are delicious), or I have to eat either Jimmy Johns or McAlister's (their vegetarian options are good, but I prefer halal as I am a huge meat eater). So after the exam finished, I embarked on the 25 mile drive to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Nikoz Fusion Grill is located off the Sweetwater/First Colony Boulevard exit on the Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land. It is located in a strip mall to the right of the traffic signal. Inside is a very dark ambiance. In the front are drinks and the whole kitchen. The owner actually recognized me from last time and greeted me. After waiting for a while, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Piri Piri Chicken as part of the lunch special (picture below). With it came basmati rice and a choice of either soup or salad. I opted for the salad. Piri piri is a pepper that is mainly grown in Africa. Piri Piri means Pepper Pepper in Swahili. So basically piri piri chicken is chicken that is marinated in a pepper sauce and grilled. The salad was a basic vegetarian salad. To drink, I took a glass of water. Altogether, I paid $7.57 (tax included, but tips isn't). The waiting time was a modest 7 minutes and 6 seconds. Everything is cooked fresh, so the quality of the food is good.



Menu (Click to view): AppetizersSalads, Chicken EntreesMeat (Beef and Goat) EntreesSeafood,  SidesKids MenuDessertsBeverages
Now this place does serve alcohol, but it doesn't mean that this restaurant should be avoided. Many people say that it is forbidden for Muslims to go to places that serve alcohol, or, to put it in a more subtle way, they tell us to "avoid such places". Going to nightclubs and bars are forbidden, no doubt, but going to a restaurant is a completely different story. This is because there are a lot of halal things occurring in restaurants, such as ordering food, eating and talking, and drinking water or soda. The truth is that as long as you do not order any alcohol, or you do not sit in a table where people are consuming alcohol, you are not sinning.And don't start the whole "it's better to avoid because of temptations". I think it's known worldwide, whether Muslim or not, that Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol. Had that logic been true, then the average Muslim would shun themselves from the rest of the world and avoid anyone that is not Muslim because of the belief that "they will try to get you to drink".
Back to the menu. This menu actually resembles Nando's. For those who don't know, Nando's is a popular restaurant that is mainly seen outside North America. In North America, there are locations only in DC and Virginia in the US, and Alberta and British Columbia in Canada. They are also well known for their peri-peri chicken. I had it before when I was visiting Bahrain from Saudi Arabia, and it tasted really good! It will be interesting to compare these two restaurants. Based on the menu, this is a truly fusion restaurant, as there are dishes that represent a country. Like souvlaki represents Greece, koobideh represents Iran, Biryani represents India and Pakistan, and Curry Khausa represents Burma. Oh, and if you order the gyro, be sure to ask for the halal one as there is a non-halal one that is popular with the non-Muslim customers. But do not worry as they are cooked separately.


Lunch Special (Click the Picture to View)


Piri Piri Chicken and Rice


The Verdict:
Remember when I said that I had peri peri chicken at Nando's in Bahrain and liked it? Well, this definitely triumphs it! This was definitely one of the best chicken dishes I have ever had in my entire life! The meat was marinated and grilled to perfection and it definitely did not taste like hot peppers! The rice was really flavorful and delicious, and the salad had the perfect amount of dressing! The food was washed down by a nice glass of water. Overall, two thumbs up for the food!
The service was also great! The owner was one of the nicest guys I've met in a restaurant. He was always smiling and he was willing to help people choose what to choose to eat when other customers came in and told him it was their first time eating at the restaurant. When I came for the first time with Mo Sabri, he helped me decide what to order when I would come back and try the restaurant since I was in a hurry to get home. It was also a good thing that he told about the availability of the non-halal gyro, as many businesses would mislead customers about halal food to try and get more customers. Overall, two thumbs up.



Conclusion:
I'll definitely make more visits to Nikoz Fusion Grill. Great food and great service, what more do you want? I'd recommend this to anyone that visits Sugar Land. I'm glad to see a restaurant that can successfully replicate a well known dish (Peri-Peri Chicken) and make a better version of it. I really hope this restaurant succeeds in the future. I hope that when I come back, the quality of food will be the same. 



Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 10/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 30/30 = 100% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Nikoz Fusion Grill
16754 Southwest Freeway #A, Sugar Land, Texas 77479
Phone: (281) 313-0325
Website: http://nikozgrill.com/index.php/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nikozgrill
Twitter: @NikozGrill
Timings: Mon: closed; Tue-Thu: 11 AM - 9:30 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 10:30 PM; Sun: 11 AM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes
SpotOn rewards available. Private room also available

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Opinion- Chicken Tikka Masala IS NOT Indian Food

Ok so normally I do not rant about things. But today is different. When I was at Masala Wok, I had noticed that a lot of people had ordered chicken tikka masala while I was eating my masala fried noodles. What really got me grinding was that one customer said, "I love this authentic Indian dish". That person was referring to that chicken tikka masala. I sat down and quietly ate, but inside, that statement kept echoing. It made me want to speak up and educate others on what real Indian cuisine is. Now I had resisted to write this for a long time, but now, the time has come.
Firstly, chicken tikka masala IS NOT INDIAN. Deal with it. The truth is, it's a BRITISH dish. The dish originated at a London restaurant in the 1950's. Real tikka is grilled on charcoal and eaten WITHOUT the masala. The masala part was added to the actual tikka to satisfy the British people's love for gravy with meat. So in other words, the restaurant Britisized the tikka, and that version became popular with non-South Asian people all over the world instead of the actual tikka itself. And to this date that is what majority of the world thinks about Indian food and that's the only Indian food they eat.
Secondly, what many people do not realize is that India is a culinary marvel. Indian cuisine is not generic like other cuisines. Each state in India has its own delicacies. For example, if you are vacationing in Goa, you would most likely eat Vindaloo, which is a very spicy dish that originated in that state. Or if you are in Hyderabad, which is considered a huge foodie city, you would be feasting on biryani, or haleem. If you are up north near New Delhi, you would be indulging on Tandoori, or if you prefer curry, Goat Korma. And if you are in the South in Kerala or Tamil Nadu, you would be eating mainly vegetarian dishes that include lentils, rice, or seafood on a banana leaf. I honestly do not know any other country that has such a variety of different dishes, or even a national dish!
So if you ever want to take a friend out for Indian food, get them to try other things than chicken tikka masala! Trust me, it would be worth it and they would also learn something new about Indian food!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Darband Shish Kabob- Not near its competition

Restaurant: Darband Shish Kabob
5670 Hillcroft Avenue, Houston, Texas 77036
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/7/13

Photo Credit: (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cuPCFN0pOyI/Sp6P38LfURI/AAAAAAAAAG8/UtCEvCQs2D0/s400/Picture+261.jpg)


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Even though I am in the middle of finals mania, I am still here! Today I will review a legacy restaurant. By legacy restaurant, I mean that a restaurant has been in the same place for a long period of time. This restaurant is Darband Shish Kabob, which has been in the same location since 1986. Over these years, they have been featured on the newspapers and have been regarded to have some of the best kabobs in town. It's actually well-known around town between both Muslims and non-Muslims. I would often hear people talk about this restaurant. This is actually the first time I have visited this restaurant. Normally I would go to Bijan whenever I felt like eating Persian food, but this time I decided to try a different Persian restaurant. So after the final chemistry lab finished, and battling traffic, I arrived at the restaurant



Let The Experience Begin!
Darband Shish Kabob is located in the same strip mall as Busy Boy and Halal Wok. Inside there was a fountain, which I find to be interesting. Ahead, there was an impressive display of the different types of kabobs: chicken, beef, and lamb. That display really tempted me to try out different kabobs, but I couldn't afford it. The employees would take a skewer of one of these meats and put them on the traditional kabob grill. This ensures that the food is cooked freshly. Instead of being seated, you have to go to the counter, pay, wait for the food, and then eat. After waiting in the long line, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the soltani, which is beef koobideh (ground beef kabob) and steak kabob. The kabobs came with Persian rice and grilled tomatoes. Also, there was a side of bread and mints. The main problem is that it did not include feta cheese like Bijan's did. Why is this the main problem? The feta cheese was absolutely delicious and was a perfect combination with the bread. Another thing I noticed was that they did not give it while you were waiting for the food. To drink I got a Pepsi. I paid $15.49 (tax included). Now the waiting time was very long: A whooping 23 minutes! And this is for a simple kabob dish. At least they could have told us that it would take that much time for the food to be made. The way you get the food is similar to what M&M Grill does. They give you a number, and you wait for it to be called. If that is the number that you are assigned, that means the food is ready.



Menu: http://www.darbandshishkabob.com/menu/ (for the description, put the pointer on the picture)
Everything on the menu is zabihah halal, although I heard from people that they serve both zabihah and non-zabihah dish. But on their website, they actually have a picture of the zabihah certificate on their website (link below). Just to confirm, I asked the owner, as there stands a risk that the certificate is outdated. He said yes. This menu is far different from Bijan's. It's a lot narrower than Bijan, meaning that there is more to choose from at Bijan than there is at Darband. All they have are some of the kabobs that Bijan has, plus a few appetizers.

Soltani with Pepsi


The Verdict:
While the koobideh and the rice were great, the beef steak was very mediocre. It was like eating a well done steak, very chewy and rubbery, but in the form of the kabob. The bottom part of the bread was burnt at the bottom. It was like eating the burnt pizza, where the top was fine, but the bottom was burnt. The food was washed down with a can of Pepsi.
The service was normal. Nothing big. The only downside was that there was plastic cutlery and plates used. Plastic cutlery and plates can easily break as you are trying to cut your food. Ironically there were also normal knives and forks available as well. Maybe it was to meet the increasing capacity to the restaurant. Instead of using plastic cutlery and spending countless amounts of money, why not buy extra amounts of normal cutlery and wash them regularly?



Conclusion:
So did Darband live up to Bijan? Nope. The food did not live up, plus the really long waiting time was not good. The only good part is that it is much cheaper than Bijan. But still, I would rather use that extra money for food that is actually tasty and not burnt. If you want the best Persian food, then go to Bijan. Only come here if you are tight on money, or you have all the free time in the world.



Grading: 
Food: 6.5/10 (The koobideh and rice are the only reason the grade is not bad)
Service: 7.5/10
Waiting time: 9.7/10 (.1 point off for every minute past 20 minutes)
Overall: 23.7/30 = 79% (C)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$


Restaurant Information:
Restaurant: Darband Shish Kabob
5670 Hillcroft Avenue, Houston, Texas 77036
Phone: (713) 975-8350
Website: http://www.darbandshishkabob.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Darband-Shish-kabob/206034962775293?rf=123263961065002
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri: 11 AM - 11 PM; Sat-Sun: 9 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed