Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jerusalem Halal Meats: A taste of nostalgia

Restaurant: Jerusalem Halal Meats
3330 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas 77057
Buffet or a-la-carte: Neither
Date of visit: 2/20/14



Photo Credit: http://jhmeats.com/images/93933452411_0_BG.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing a vintage restaurant. What is a vintage restaurant you ask? Well, a vintage restaurant is a restaurant that has been around or open since I came here from Saudi Arabia in 2006. Examples include Royal Restaurant, Halal Wok, Busy Boy, and Bijan. Today, I am reviewing another one: Jerusalem Halal Meats. I remember passing by this all the time when I would go on Hillcroft Ave. I never really got a chance to try it since I got here. Back in the day, I used to only come here to get khubs (bread) or halal meat whenever I would come from Sugar Land. I wanted to try it at first when I was that age, but my parents said no. Now, 7 years later, I am back in this very store. The time came to try during the day at UH. I had nearly 2 hours to wait until my next class, so I took this time to come here. Thankfully, traffic was not that bad, and within 20 minutes, I arrived at the parking lot.



Let the Experience Begin!
Jerusalem Halal Meats is actually a huge ethnic grocery store. The restaurant itself is located behind the groceries next to the butcher. To the left is the drinks area, the middle is the paying area, and the right is the food options. You have to wait in the line to get the food. Once it was my turn, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I decided to try their Kabsa and their stuffed squash. Kabsa is the Saudi equivalent of biryani. I remember eating it often when I used to live in Saudi Arabia, and it always tasted great! The squash is stuffed with rice and beef. I became a fan of stuffed vegetables ever since I had them in Turkey during my 2012 Spring Break trip. I paid $14.06 for this. There is no waiting time, as the food is given in plates and then to you.



Menu:
Perhaps the most surprising thing is that there is no menu provided. So it's basically fair game! The prices are not even listed, so you must be careful in what you order and how much you order! There are different options everyday, but the one that's common is the shawarma.


Kabsa


Stuffed Squash


The Verdict:
The food was pretty decent for a vintage restaurant. The kabsa was decent and very filling. I just did not like the presence of nuts in the kabsa. The squash, however, was very delicious. The lamb accompaniment was very and the gravy was not too spicy and not too bland. Once you cut the squash, you could see the rice and beef come out. The squash itself was also very tasty. For budget reasons, I did not drink anything. Overall, one thumb up and on side thumb.
The service was nothing to rave or criticize about. I just got my food, ate, and left.



Conclusion:
Jerusalem Halal Meats has some fairly decent food. Even by looking at the other things that they have, you will know that you will have something that tastes good. Just be careful with what you take and how much you take and you will be fine. I'll be back one day.



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



Restaurant Information:
Jerusalem Halal Meats
3330 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas 77057
Phone: (713) 784-2525 (grocery); (713) 782-2525
Website: none for restaurant
Facebook: None
Timings: Mon-Sun: 8 AM - 9 PM;
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Friday, February 21, 2014

Sult'an Peppers- Halal Food in a Popular Mall

Restaurant: Sult'an Peppers
Memorial City Mall, Houston, TX 77024
Buffet or a-la-carte: Neither
Date of visit: 2/13/14



Photo Credit: http://sultan-pepper.com/images/logo.png



Background:
Salam/hey guys! I know I started writing too late, but I had an exam on Valentine's Day, so I had no time to start earlier. It would be a while before I publish this, because I have another exam on the 24th.  I will be reviewing Sult'an Pepper, a recently opened halal restaurant in Memorial City Mall. It was a welcoming experience, as this was the first time I would be eating halal food in a mall since the long gone days of living in Saudi Arabia. I hoped this would be as good as it was back then. My 11:30 AM class got cancelled because the teacher did not show up at all. I heard about this restaurant from a friend, so I thought of giving this place a try. Instead of going to campus and then come here, I went straight from my house.



Let The Experience Begin!
Sult'an Peppers is located the food court of Memorial City Mall. It is at the place where you find other outlets such as McDonalds and Sarku. I was one of the first customers to arrive at the restaurant. It was only a 5 minute wait in the line before I started ordering.



Let's Eat!
There are two options: you can either do a buffet or simply order a sandwich combo. I did the buffet. It resembled Fadi's, where you get an entree and a side. I ordered the chicken piccata with rice and Greek salad. Chicken Piccata is an Italian chicken dish where the chicken is sliced along its width, and is made with a sauce containing lemon juice. Normally, white wine is added, but since it is a halal restaurant, they use a different sauce. To drink, I got a bottle of water. I paid $8.65 (tax included). There was no waiting time, as the food is served right to you when you order it.



Menu: http://sultan-pepper.com/menu.html#close
To access each component, just simply click whatever you choose to see. The prices are very affordable, unlike Fadi's. This is truly a fusion restaurant. They have food from countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, and Turkey. But I don't get which country that borders the Mediterranean is interested in curry, since it is an Indian dish.



Chicken Piccata and Rice (Sorry no salad pic)


The Verdict:
The food was great! This reminded me of the times I used to eat whenever I used to go to the mall in Saudi Arabia. The rice was flavorful, and the chicken piccata was also good. The sauce in the piccata was flavorful. The food was washed down with a nice glass of water.
The service was good too. Everything was done with a nice smile, and the people really helped me out when choosing.



Conclusion:
If you ever feel the need to take a break and eat while shopping, then Sult'an Peppers is worth giving a shot. I wonder whether other malls will follow suit with Memorial City Mall. I hope that this would become successful. I will definitely visit when I go shopping again at Memorial City.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 9/10
Overall: 18/20 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Sult'an Peppers
Memorial City Mall, Houston, TX 77024
Phone: (832) 487-9777
Website: http://sultan-pepper.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sultan-Pepper/359639040836669
Timings: Mon-Sat: 11 AM - 9 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 7 P<
Caters: Yes. For menu, click this link: http://sultan-pepper.com/catering_menu.html


Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Genghis Grill- Something I've Been Waiting for

Restaurant: Genghis Grill
1531 Highway 6, Sugar Land, TX 77478
Buffet or a-la-carte: Hybrid
Date of visit: 2/5/14



Photo Credit: http://images2.backpage.com/imager/u/medium/64356692/8.jpg

UPDATE: 4/4/14
Apparently some of the sauces have alcohol in it. The ones that do have alcohol are: 3G, Chili Garlic, Honey Soy, Ginger Citrus, Szechuan, Khan Pao, and Khanzu. Please spread news about this.


ORIGINAL REVIEW:
Background:
Salam/hey guys! Now you must be thinking that I must be some crazy guy when I write up about Genghis Grill. The truth is that this particular location is the first one in ALL of the USA to serve halal meat. This halal food availability reflects on the diversity that is widespread in the Houston area, and the large presence of Muslims in Sugar Land. Last year, I said that Kublai Khan was the halal Genghis Grill. Now, it's all changed. Genghis Grill finally has halal food within its restaurant. I was introduced to the concept of the Mongolian stir fry when I went out with friends while I was in high school at the 290 and FM 1960 location. My friends taught me how it was done. I had wondered that one day, a halal version of this would come, as I had to put up with seafood and vegetables. That wondering came true with Kublai Khan, and then eventually it came to where it all started, but at a different location. I found out about this from a friend, who is also a huge foodie. The time to try came when my engineering class was canceled because my professor went to a conference. I also had to visit the doctor for a checkup. After I went to the gym, I drove to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Genghis Grill is located on the strip mall at Highway 6 and Fluor Daniel Drive (ironically where I used to live when I first moved to Houston). Inside, it looks like a bar, but in reality there are booths and tables as a normal restaurant has. I was asked what I wanted to drink, and then they helped me fill out a card. In that card, you write your name, your table number, and the starch you want. After doing that, I was ready to munch!



Let's Eat!
There is no particular menu for Genghis Grill. You make your own food and you give it to the people to cook! The order goes: meat, seasoning, vegetables, and sauce. There are three halal choices available. They are: steak, curry chicken, and regular chicken breast. I went for two trips. In the first trip, I took all three meats along with vegetables (so many I could not remember), crab, scallops, and eggs as my meats, garlic seasoning, garlic sauce, and udon noodles as my starch. In the second trip. I took the regular chicken and steak, vegetables, eggs, their signature sauce, and fried rice as my starch. To drink, I got a glass of water. The waiting time for the food to come is around 13 minutes. I paid a total of $15.14 (tax included). Compared to Kublai Khan, it's a more expensive. While you pay an extra $3 for unlimited bowls at Kublai Khan, you pay a whooping $5. The waiting time is around 10-15 minutes for the food to come.



Menu:
As I mentioned earlier, there is no particular menu. You decide what you want in your food. There are cards that have popular food items and instructions on how to make them.


Good of them to post this


First Bowl


Second Bowl


The Verdict:
I called Genghis Grill "crap" in the Kublai Khan review because the shrimp wasn't good (at the 290 and FM 1960 ). Now, I take that back. The food here was great. Everything had flavor. Even the rice did. The only gaffe was that the beef on the second bowl was chewy. Nevertheless, the chicken and the vegetables made up for it. What I liked about here was that when you have rice, they put it in the same bowl as your other stuff. In Kublai Khan, the rice comes separately in a bowl and you need a separate place to put everything in. There should be a balance between the meat and the starch, like the udon noodles were. The food was washed down with a glass of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was good too. I was able to get a hold of the waitress that helped me and asked her about how they managed to get halal food. This particular branch of Genghis Grill is franchised, unlike the other locations that are corporate. The francishee is Indian, and he was able to have a contract with the suppliers and supply the halal meat. They were also really helpful in telling me how to get the food. I also liked that they labeled halal and that they cooked the food separately when the person says it is halal.



Conclusion:
Genghis Grill and Kublai Khan are pretty much on the same level. Depending where you are, you can enjoy any place. If you want endless, then Kublai Khan is the cheaper option, but if you want more choices, then Genghis Grill is the place.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Total: 28/30 = 93.3% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Genghis Grill
1531 Highway 6, Sugar Land, TX 77478
Phone: (281) 277-0233
Website: http://www.genghisgrill.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/genghisgrill
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GenghisGrill
Instagram: genghisgrill
Timings: Mon-Thu & Sun: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Nazif's Turkish Grill and Deli- The Best Turkish Restaurant So Far

Restaurant: Nazif's Turkish Grill and Deli
8821 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77061
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/31/14


Photo Credit: http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/441/711/441711481_640.jpg

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing another Turkish restaurant. This time, it is Nazif's Turkish Grill. My parents are out of town, so I did not have any lunch from home. I was given a specific amount of money to spend on eating at a restaurant. At UH, I only had one class on Fridays. That class was from 11 AM to 12 PM. After that, I was free until 5:30 PM, where I had to go to my cousin's house. I was in the mood to fill up, as I had not eaten breakfast that day. As soon as the class was finished, I set off to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located at the intersection of Westheimer and Fondren road at the strip mall where the Starbucks is. Inside, the decor was very nice. There was Turkish music playing, and there was a drum set for the live performances. As soon as I got in, I was immediately helped by the waiter, unlike the previous day at Golden Hunan. As soon as I sat down, I was handed the menu. 5 minutes later, I was ready to order.



Let's eat!
I ordered the baby lahmacun (turkish pizza) and the Nazif's special mixed grill. The mixed grill consists of lamb shish, chicken shish, beef steak, meatballs and served with grilled vegetables, salad, onions, rice, and french fries. The main reason I like to order the mixed grill at restaurants is because it would allow me to sample all the different types of kebab. I paid a total of $17.21 (tax included). The waiting time was a wonderful 10 minutes and 3 seconds.



The menu almost the same as the other Turkish restaurants that I have been to in Houston. Like you have all the options of the appetizers, and the kebabs as either in a wrap or a plate. Like Pasha, the famous Turkish tea comes with no price. But I noticed two differences. First, Nazif's mixed grill is the cheapest out of all the Turkish restaurants here in Houston for both lunch and dinner. Second, there is this thing called the extra mixed grill, where there is more meat. 


Baby Lahmacun


The Special Mixed Grill


The Verdict:
The food was on the same level as Pasha. I really enjoyed this meal. This is definitely the best mixed grill I've had so far in all the Arab and Turkish restaurants I have reviewed. I found no faults with all the different meats that were on the plate. The Turkish bread was also awesome and flavorful. The rice was perfectly cooked, and the vegetables were fresh. I'm not a huge fan of cabbage, but the cabbage here was simply the best. The fries were also nice and crispy. The food was washed down with a nice glass of water. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was on par with the food. The waiter was very nice, much better than yesterday's trip to Golden Hunan. He was very friendly and made me feel welcome in the restaurant.



Conclusion:
There is another excellent Turkish place to try along with Pasha, and it's this restaurant. I would definitely recommend this place if you want some good Turkish food near the Galleria. Service-wise, this beats Pasha. Very nice people, live performances (halal of course), and great tasting food, this place is perfect. I'll definitely be coming back and eating more stuff from here.



Grading:
Service: 9.5/10
Food: 9/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 28.5/30 = 95% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Nazif's Turkish Grill and Deli

8821 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77061
Phone: (713) 977-4476
Website: http://www.nazifs.com/
Facebook: none
Timings: Tue-Sat: 11:30 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 10:30 AM - 9 PM; Mon closed
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Golden Hunan- The Worst Chinese Restaurant in Houston so far

Restaurant: Golden Hunan
1801 Durham Road, Houston, Texas 77007
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/30/14



Photo Logo: http://pics3.city-data.com/businesses/p/1/3/2/9/6941329.JPG


Background:
Salam/hey guys! After a pretty long time, I'm back! Today I will be reviewing Golden Hunan, a halal Chinese restaurant inside the 610 loop. I had not packed lunch at my house, as I ran out of the house as I was getting late for my 10 AM class. I continuously  had class until 1 PM, then I had a break until 2:30. As soon as I got out of the class, I came here.



Let The Experience Begin!
Golden Hunan is located at the intersection of I 10 and Durham street in the strip mall. This turned out to be the smallest restaurant that I have been to so far. Never before have I seen so few tables. The interior was dull. It was pretty dark inside, and all that was playing on the TV was the ESPN special on the Super Bowl. No one was walking around and checking on the customers, who were eating the food. I came inside the restaurant and all that happened was that someone peeked out of the kitchen door then went back. I stood for around 3 minutes, then I sat myself down to wait for someone to come and get the menu. If I stood for 5 more minutes, I would have walked out, and this review wouldn't have happened. Only after I sat down and waited did the waitress come out and give me the menu, cutlery, and napkins. After looking through the menu, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I decided to order the Hunan Chicken Lunch combo. The combo came with an egg roll, rice, and "side mixed vegetables", which literally means salad. To drink, I got a glass of water. I paid $8.10 (tax included), which was good for a combo meal. The waiting time was 6 minutes and 10 seconds. To wait, I watched ESPN.



The menu is like every Chinese restaurant. Nothing different than Halal Wok. Pictured below was the lunch specials that are available (Click to view). I do not know why they weren't listed on the website

Lunch Menu and Lunch Combination Plate


The remaining lunch combination plates


Clockwise: sweet and sour sauce with some weird yellow thing, rice, salad, hunan chicken (egg roll I ate up)


The Verdict:
It looked like a meal on an US airline in business class, but it tasted like an economy meal. And the economy meal on US airlines are usually disgusting. Yes, it was that bad. It was as bad as Halal Wok was. Sweet and sour sauce is one of my favorite sauces, but this one tasted like blood and water mixed together. As soon as I tried the yellow thing, I stopped eating the sauce altogether. A sample of it made me wanna spit it out. The rice looked and tasted exactly the same as Halal Wok. The salad had too much dressing. And the main item, the hunan chicken, tasted so badly that my stomach said "Why are you torturing me with this food?!" by hurting throughout the day. Not pictured above was the egg roll, which was the only good thing. The food was drained by a glass of water. Overall, two thumbs down.
The service was as awful as the food. Never before have I had to sit myself down before someone would come and help me. I mean, couldn't they have called someone and told that person that I was here when I stepped into the restaurant, instead of coming out AFTER I sat down? The waitress was very terse and quiet. All she did was repeat the order I gave and said "Mhmm" after I said something. Phone calls were also ignored by the staff. This can cause the people calling that restaurant to not trust that place for its unreliability and call up other restaurants.



Conclusion:
Golden Hunan is one place to avoid. There are other, better Chinese restaurants out there. Those restaurants have better service, friendlier waiters, and better tasting food. If you are inside the loop, and want some Chinese food, then I would recommend you to find somewhere else.



Grading:
Service: 5/10
Food: 5/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Total: 20/30 = 66.6% (D)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Golden Hunan
1801 Durham Road, Houston, Texas 77007
Phone: (713) 880-1688
Website: http://www.goldenhunanhouston.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoldenHunan
Timings: Mon-Fri: 11 AM - 9 PM; Sat-Sun: 12 AM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below!

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed