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



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