Sunday, March 22, 2015

RELOCATED: TG's Cravings- A New Halal Burger Place In Sugar Land

Restaurant: TG's Cravings
Address: 16338 Kensington Drive, Sugar Land, Texas 77479
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/14/15



Photo Credit: http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/-GDuHiqy8fkWCTyeDr8FxA/ls.jpg
UPDATE 1/17/17: Their new address is 16510 FM 529. Went for a couple of visits and noticed that the food improved significantly. They now use brioche buns as standard.

UPDATE 8/13/16: I tried their chimichanga back in March. It was decent, but definitely better than the chicken fried steak I had. Unfortuanely, their store was severely damaged from the Tax Day floods. However, they are opening up their second location in Cypress. There is no timetable on when the Sugar Land location will open again.

UPDATE 12/29/15: I went a few weeks back and tried their newest item: the chicken fried steak. I was disappointed this time. The chicken fried steak came with a baked potato, and I got mashed potatoes and biscuits as sides. The biscuit was cold in the interior. The chicken fried steak was just ok. The mashed and baked potatoes were the only good parts.
I'll come again and try the burger items and see if they improved from the first visit. But their Tex-Mex and wings are by far the best things there.


UPDATE 6/1/15: They now have chimichangs and enchiladas! I had their beef enchiladas in late May. It was pretty good, even though their meat is ground beef rather than chopped beef, and they use salsa instead of usual enchilada sauce. Nice of them to improve after the first visit. 


=============================ORIGINAL POST==============================

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Hope you all are having a wonderful Spring Break! Today I will be reviewing a new American/Tex-Mex restaurant that opened up in Sugar Land. I first heard about this place from a Muslim Group on Facebook. It was a great feeling because for once there was a new place that had steak and Tex-Mex options. The people that were actually setting up the business had to continuously confirm their halal status, because certain people on that group would not stop worrying about whether the food was halal, even though the person clearly said that it was going to be zabiha halal. Another issue was that it was all the way in Sugar Land. It was far from where I lived (Cypress) and UH. Everything other people said about this place was nothing but praise. Some have raved about how high quality their food is, and how they would make this their go-to place. The time came to try when I went paintballing with my friends at Brookshire in Waller County. We had just gotten off from college since it was Spring Break. All of us had eagerly wanted to try the place out. Heck, one of my good friends wanted to come as well even though he didn't come to paintball. The drive there was very long. We had to go through nearly all of Fort Bend County just to reach Sugar Land. To make matters worse, we had to take a detour in Fulshear, which added on even more time. We were completely covered in paint and mud, since the majority of the time we had to walk through an area that was completely saturated and full of mud. It was so bad that I nearly slipped plenty of times, and we only got to play two games of 5 minutes even after paying $30 just to paintball. While walking, the water/mud mixture had nearly reached my knees. We then decided to take a break at Maryam Masjid, pray, change our clothes, and then head to the restaurant. What was supposed to be a 45 minute ride turned out to be a 90 minute ride.



Let The Experience Begin!
TG's Cravings is located at the very end of Kensington Drive. From the place, you can see Patel Brothers and the Sugar Land location of Tempura. The ambiance was really nice. There were tables and chairs for both kids and adults. The Cricket World Cup was playing on the TV. They had just finished their soft opening a few weeks ago before we came here, so it was busy with people trying to adjust before they do their grand opening and make their way up the already large and competitive halal food scene in the Houston area. It was definitely packed, as EVERYONE was really excited about this place opening up. The really nice waiter got my group a table, and we had waited for our other friend to come.



Let's Eat!
We were then handed out menus. Unfortunately, the other friend came much later than me and my other friend, so we couldn't make our final orders. While we were waiting, we ordered buffalo wings that were on sale for $3.99+ tax. To drink, I got a Coke while he got water. Once the other friend arrived, we finally got the entrees ordered. My friend and I ordered the Mamu burger, which is basically a burger stuffed with cheddar cheese and topped with American cheese, mayo, ketchup, and mustard. The only differences is that I got the beef bacon add-on (yes there are places in town with halal turkey and beef bacon), while he made it super spicy. My other friend, who is obsessed about being buff, just ordered a chicken quesadilla. We split the bill, and I eventually paid $17.67 (tax included) The waiting time was really long: 5 minutes for the wings, and 27 minutes for the entrees. For every other person with me, I add 5 minutes to the maximum tolerance waiting time of 20 minutes. Since they are still trying to adjust, I will not deduct points based on how long it took for the food to come out.



Menu: http://tgscravings.com/menu/
Absolutely impressive. They have so many varieties of burgers. And I can bet you that one day, I will attempt the tower burger challenge and succeed in it. I hope to avenge the two failures I had with the 2 lb burger from Famous Hamburger in Dearborn back in 2013. I like the idea of having loaded fries and nachos, as I am a huge fan of chili cheese fries dating back to the days I used to eat at M&M Grill. Steak fries is basically another name for the regular french fries. They are also another restaurant with steak. What I really like is that there is a steak option FOR UNDER $20!! This is only the second time I have ever seen a halal restaurant have a legitimate cut of steak under $20. The last time was the lunch special at Bonsai, where you get two meats for $14 and 3 meats for $17. Even the steaks are under $20 individually at lunch time, but not at dinner. The last time I had tried steak at a new halal place was at Winetopia (now closed), I had to pay $25.96, despite the website saying that it was much cheaper. After that, I made a promise to myself to never go back unless I either had a lot of money or for a special occasion. The burgers are decently priced. They are also the first place to legitimately have halal non-Desi breakfast options on their menu. M&M Grill had breakfast options for a few months back in 2013, but it was discontinued after a run of few months. Most of the halal breakfasts in Houston consists of Halwa Puri (deep fried Indian bread with chickpeas curry and halwa) served as brunch on weekends at many of the Desi restaurants. Believe it or not, I have never in my entire lifetime had an omelette with meat. I used to always hope that one day I would actually have an omelette with meat inside, just like how they would do at IHOP or Denny's. Their Tex-Mex is standard. They sell popular Tex-Mex food like burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. I sure hope that their fajita platter would come in a sizzler. The only issue I have on the menu is the price of the Philly Cheesesteak. Let's be honest, Paying $12.99+ tax for a Philly cheesesteak for a Philly Chicken is just flat-out RIDICULOUS. Their kids meal is decently priced though. Now you would expect these things to be done by non-Desi people right? WRONG! This place is owned by Desi people! It is very nice to see Desi people starting to serve American favorites here in Houston








Top: Mamu burger with beef bacon. Comes with curly fries. Bottom left: Buffalo wings. Bottom right: Chicken quesadilla


The Verdict:
The wings were very good. It was very nice and tender. The wings came in a pack of 6, so all of us were able to eat it. The sauce was not overpowering. My friend tried the quesadilla and really liked it. Parts of the burger patty were somewhat overcooked. In the picture, you can see that a lot of the patty is covered in black. But, the parts that weren't overcooked tasted great. The beef bacon was nice and crispy. The curly fries tasted wonderful as well.
The service was good, but could have some improvements. The good part was that the owner himself actually came to us and asked how the food is, and he even allowed us to give suggestions on how to improve. I have NEVER seen a Desi owner be open to constructive criticism, and accept the fact that improvements should be made until now. It clearly indicates that he wants the restaurant to be ready for the grand opening and that he wants the restaurant to succeed. Sadly, many people know about how rash Desi restaurant owners usually are. Customer service is usually close to none at many Desi restaurants. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I honestly hope that one day other Desi restaurants would follow suit. There are still things that they can improve on. First, they should remember in the future to put any add-ons a customer requests. My mamu burger was served to me, but I had to give it back to the waiter because they forgot to put the beef bacon on it. Also, while paying for the bill, they had charged us the full price for the wings, even though the waiter said that they were on sale for $3.99+tax.



Conclusion:
I will be nice and come back and try the different items, since they are still trying to get everything to click. The menu looks like the sort where I would try everything from this place. I will have higher expectations for the service after the grand opening occurs. But for now, I hope their business succeeds.



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



Restaurant Information:
TG's Cravings
16338 Kensington Drive, Sugar Land, Texas 77479
Phone: (832) 500-3660
Website (currently under construction):http://www.tgscravings.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/TGs-Cravings/1376000619385526
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tgscravings
Timings: Tue: closed; Sun-Mon & Wed-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - Midnight
Caters: Not yet

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed


Friday, March 20, 2015

Zamani Mediterranean Grill- Some Good Halal Food in the Northside

Restaurant: Zamani Mediterranean Grill
Address: 9441 Louetta Road, Spring, Texas 77379
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 3/7/15



Background:
Salam/hey guys! After being sick and having a major exam, I am back! Today I will be reviewing a known Mediterranean place: Zamani's. I got to go here as I was driving to the dealership to get my car serviced. I have heard many good things about this place. I heard that their shawarmas were the best in the north side of town, and that they have good plates as well.



Let The Experience Begin!
Zamani's is located in the strip mall at the interection of Louetta and Old Louetta. Just a few blocks down Louetta, is Champions masjid (Masjid Al-Salam). Attached to the restaurant is a grocery store. There is no separate entrance to the restaurant. Inside you have all the menu items displayed. After looking at it, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the beef/lamb shawarma. There were two shawarma style rotisseries that are visible. I paid a total of $7.03 (tax related). The waiting time was very quick at 3 minutes and 23 seconds.



Menu (click to view): The menu consisted of various Mediterranean favorites like shawarma and kababs. The prices were great! They do have a website with the menu, but they didn't update the menu prices.



Sandwich Box Combo, Grilled Kabobs, and Kids Menu


Sandwiches, Salads, Sides, and other favorites


Plates and family dinners


The Chicken Shawarma (I got it for takeout as I had to go to the dealership)


The Verdict:
I have heard nothing but praise for this restaurant from other people, and those people were right. The shawarma was great! For some reason, they give you boxes of garlic sauce and spicy sauce. Since I really love garlic sauce, I decided to use it by dipping the shawarma inside the garlic sauce. I drank some Coke after getting to the dealership. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was normal like any other restaurant. I just got the food and left.



Conclusion:
Considering that the vast majority of shawarma places in Houston are south of I-10, Zamani is a very nice place for you to have some nice Arab food. It is located very close to Champions Masjid. I would come back and try their different items.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 8.5/10
Total: 16.5/20 = 82.5% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Zamani Mediterranean Grill
9441 Louetta Road, Spring, Texas 77379
Phone: (281) 251-9111
Website: http://www.zamanigrill.com/
Facebook: none
Timings: Sun-Thu: 10:30 AM - 9 PM; Fri & Sat: 10:30 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Sunday, March 8, 2015

CLOSED: Shawarma House- Gas Station Food Again!

Restaurant: Shawarma House
Address: Shell Gas Station at the intersection of Almeda and North McGregor Street, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 1/23/14

UPDATE 10/26/15: This is no longer in business.

*********************************************************************************

ORIGINAL REVIEW:

Salam/hey guys! I haven't been able to write the review earlier since I have been sick and had relatives come over from Dallas. Today I will be writing about a new Shawarma place in town: Shawarma House. I first heard about this place from zabihah.com. They had sent me an email telling me about this restaurant opening up. I thought "Oh cool, another halal place near UH and on Almeda Road". After finishing my first class, it was off to the place.



Let The Experience Begin!
Shawarma House is located inside the Shell gas station at the intersection of North McGregor and Almeda. Going in, there was no one at the counter. After a while, a lady came up and took my order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered a simple beef shawarma. I wanted to go light because I wanted to go to Tout Suite for some dessert. To drink, I had nothing because I already had water with me. I paid $7.57 (tax included) for the shawarma. Overall, the waiting time was 5 minutes and 3 seconds.



Menu: Despite the name "Shawarma House", this place also has other items such as gyros, chicken wings, burgers, falafel, and kabobs. The price is very good, with everything under $10 (without tax). Since this is a gas station, you can buy other things such as soda, candy, sweets, and other convenient items.

Menu (click to zoom)


The Shawarma


The Verdict:
Overall, the shawarma was pretty flavorful. It did drip however, and it left a nasty stain on my jacket. It felt great to have a good shawarma place near campus, as many places that serve shawarma have shisha ( I am allergic to them). Food was washed down with a bottle of water I had.
The service was nothing to write home about. I just got the shawarma and left.



The Verdict:
If you are near UH, need gas, and feel hungry, then this place would be great for you. I hope to make more trips here.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 8.5/10
Total: 16.5 = 82.5% (B)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Shawarma House
Shell Gas Station at the intersection of Almeda and North McGregor Street, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 528-0830
Website: none
Facebook: none
Timings: Mon-Sun: 10 AM - 8 PM
Caters: no

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed