Monday, August 24, 2015

Yaal Tiffins: Finally got to try a new cuisine

Restaurant: Yaal Tiffins
Address: 10928 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 8/11/15

Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review! Today I will be reviewing a restaurant that introduces a new halal cuisine to Houston. The restaurant is called Yaal Tiffins. I had first seen this restaurant on the Internet. I was trying to find a South Indian place that had a halal thali. Then this place turned up. When I went to their website, I saw that they said that they use halal meat. I also saw where they have their menu and saw two options: Sri Lankan, and Indo-Malaysian! At that time, they hadn't introduced the Indo-Malaysian food yet, so I had decided to try out the Sri Lankan food. For those who don't know, Sri Lanka is an island country located southeast of India. Like Indian food, the main components of Sri Lankan food are rice and curry. A lot of the Sri Lankan dishes are influenced by the cuisine of South India, which is much different that the well known Indian food that is popular in the world. One major difference is that Sri Lankan food is generally more hotter and spicier than South Indian food. As a South Indian myself (yes, Hyderabad is considered South India), I would be able to tell whether the food here is spicier and hotter than Hyderabadi and other South Indian food that I have tried. Indo-Malaysian food is it's own specialty as well. For centuries, Indian Muslims, mostly from South India, have migrated to Malaysia. When they migrated, they brought their food as well. Many had incorporated Malaysian favorites into their cooking, and Indo-Malaysian cuisine was born. Today, Indo-Malaysian food is enjoyed all over Malaysia (often sold in places called Mamak stalls). Anyone who knows better about Indo-Malaysian food can comment below. Now here in Houston, this place is actually the CLOSEST we would get to with authentic halal Malaysian food. The two well-known Malaysian restaurants in Houston, Banana Leaf and Mamak, don't serve halal meat. This is very ironic considering that Malaysia is nearly 2/3 Muslim. Many of my Muslim friends were surprised too. But because the Indo-Malaysian food wasn't there, I decided that I would try Sri Lankan food for the very first time. I got off early from work, so I decided to come and try the place. Situations at my house prevented me from trying it much earlier. It was a 10 minute drive to the strip mall, but I had a hard time finding it. It took me 5 minutes riding around the strip mall to find the place. To get to the restaurant, turn into the strip mall from Westheimer, then go all the way up, then make a right, and the restaurant is there.

Let The Experience Begin!
There was a significant number of people eating in the restaurant. There was also a TV that had a local channel on. The waiter just got the menu and then followed me. I ordered my drink, which was water, from another waiter than was very nice. Then I was ready to order.

Let's Eat!
I ordered the Sri Lankan Thali s part of their weekday lunch special. I figured that I should try various Sri Lankan favorites. The Sri Lankan thali included chicken tikka, sambol (coconut curry dish), iddiyappam (4 string hoppers or 4 noodle type thingy), sothi (yellow curry with carrots and potatoes), chicken kulambu curry, a curry that is popular in Sri Lanka and South India, rice, and some yogurt dessert thing I don't know the name of.

This place mainly concentrates on South Indian and Sri Lankan specialties. They have some North Indian food and they have biryani. On the weekends, they have a lunch buffet where the food is served to you on a banana leaf. I noticed that some of the menu items were cut from the website. In the Indo-Malaysian section, the fried rice and the fried noodles from my guessing are "Nasi Goreng" and "Mamak Mee Goreng", and they have vegetarian, chicken, and lamb options. At least they have Nasi Lemak!

Bottom: Iddiyappam. Above it: rice. Clockwise: sothi, dessert, sambol, chicken kulambu, and chicken tikka

The Verdict:
Overall, the food was decent. The best part was the sothi. You eat the iddiyappam with the curries, not separate. The rice was fresh. The kulambu was OK. I was expecting the Sri Lankan items to be more spicy, considering how South Indian and Sri Lankan food is significantly more spicier than other Indian/Pakistani food. The chicken tikka could've been much better. Food was drowned by a glass of water that was constantly refilled (which is a good thing). Overall, two side thumbs.
The service was okay except for one guy. He was very rude. No smiles, not even a single "hello" or "thank you". He had a major attitude problem. At least he didn't make any nasty remarks or take away my food while I was eating. The other people that helped me were very nice though.

Yaal Tiffins is a nice addition to the ever-growing diverse halal food scene in Houston. I'll go back and try the Malaysian food, since this place is literally the only place in town with halal Malaysian, and the Kottu Roti, which is a popular food item in Sri Lanka. I just hope I don't have that waiter again though.

Service: 6/10
Food: 7/10
Total: 13/20 = 65% (D) (Tied lowest for the year)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$

Restaurant Information:
Yaal Tiffins
10928 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Phone: (713) 780-3096
Timings: Mon: closed; Lunch Timings: Tue-Fri: 11 AM - 2 PM and Sat-Sun: 12 PM - 3 PM. Dinner Timings: Tue-Thu & Sun: 5:30 PM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 5:30 PM - 10 PM
Caters: yes

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Zain Mohammed

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