Monday, November 30, 2015

Avesta Persian Grill: Finally, a new Persian place

Restaurant: Avesta Persian Grill
Address: 2691 Wilcrest Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 11/11/15



Photo Credit: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/09/23/4c/19/outside-view.jpg


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review! Today I will be reviewing a new Persian restaurant that opened up earlier this year. It is called Avesta Persian Grill. It is a welcome addition to the halal Persian food scene. At long last, I am finally able to review a new Persian place here in Houston. I was in the mood to eat out since I did not want to once again eat Subway at Prairie View. Nor did I want to eat the fries at Chick-Fil-A (fries are vegan). Nor did I want to stop at McDonalds or any fast food place near the university. So I was driving down I-10, then I remembered that it had opened up and I needed to try it. So I took the Wilcrest Exit and came to the place.



Let The Experience Begin!
Avesta is located just after the Westheimer and Wilcrest traffic light. It is located next to a salon. The ambiance was very nice. It wasn't too dark or too bright. I went in and was immediately assisted. I got the table, asked for a water, and then proceeded to read the menu.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the mix shish kabob combo. It was chunks of chicken kabob (probably jujeh) and beef fillet (probably barg) with grilled vegetables. I got the sour cherry rice instead of the usual rice. I paid a grand total of $14.06 (tax included). Like Bijan, they give you herbs, feta cheese, and bread to munch on while you wait for the food. The waiting time was 13 minutes and 27 seconds.



The menu is almost the same as the other Persian places in Houston. You have the koobideh's and kababs along with some stews. You have seafood, lamb, poultry, and beef options. A significant difference between Avesta and Bijan is that Bijan has a far more variety of kababs to offer than Avesta. The prices are fairly priced.



Mix shish kabob combo and the bread



The Verdict:
For the appetizers, the bread was ok. I found the Bijan one to be better. The feta cheese was still good. In the mix shish kabob combo, the best items were the chicken, the rice, and the vegetables. All the vegetables were fresh and there was a lot of flavor in them. The rice was as good as Bijan's. The sour cherries were really tasty. The chicken was excellent. The chicken was really juicy, tender, and flavorful. The beef was a different story. It was pretty chewy. It wasn't really that juicy to be honest.
The service was really good here. The people were really nice and they did everything with a smile. They were also really polite.



Conclusion:
After trying the mix, I would recommend getting the chicken rather than the beef. I would definitely give them another chance and try out their koobidehs. I hope the service will still be good the next time I visit the place! Listed below are the rankings of the whole meat kababs for the four Persian places that I have tried so far.

1) Bijan
2) Avesta 
3) Kasra
4) Darband


Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 7/10
Total: 16/20 = 80% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Avesta Persian Grill
2691 Wilcrest Road, Houston, Texas 77042
Phone: (713) 781-5555
Website: http://www.avestahouston.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/avestahouston?fref=ts
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 11 PM; Sun: 11:30 AM - 10 PM
Caters: yes
Reservations available

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Monday, November 23, 2015

Frenchy's Chicken: Good Chicken, Bad Side

Restaurant: Frenchy's Chicken
Address: 10414 Richmond Avenue, Houston, TX 77042
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 11/5/15


Photo Credit: http://www.blacknews.com/images/frenchys-logo.jpg



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. Today I will be reviewing a fast food place that has it's first location that serves halal meat: Frenchy's. Frenchy's is like a Cajun version of KFC. And interestingly, it is based here in Houston. They started off in the Third Ward and have grown with locations in the city and one location in Beaumont. It was only a few months ago where they announced that all their chicken items were halal. This was welcoming news as the Church's Chicken n Sugar Land had stopped serving halal chicken earlier this year as well as Church's all over Houston. I had made it a point to give the place a try. The time came before I headed to the University of Houston to hang out with one of my best friends since it was his birthday. After finishing for the week at Prairie View A&M, I went to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
The Frenchy's is located at the gas station on the intersection of Beltway 8 and Richmond. It is attached to the convenience store. I asked about the halal meat, and it was everything! This is better than KFC, where only the bone in pieces are halal. However, the only halal sides are the fries and the mashed potatoes WITHOUT the gravy. It was very nice of them to tell what the halal items were. After looking at the menu, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the king special, which consisted of three wings, two dark pieces, and fries. To drink, I got water. I paid a price of $10.98. The waiting time was 4 minutes and 23 seconds.



Menu: http://www.frenchyschicken.com/menu
Well, it's a lot like your average fried chicken place, where you have the sides, the chicken, and the drink. The prices are reasonable. A major difference is that you can't tell them whether you want the chicken grilled or fried unlike KFC.



The King Special


The Verdict:
The chicken was actually good. It wasn't as crunchy as KFC, but it was still good. You can definitely taste the Cajun spices when you bite the chicken The fries however were a completely different story. The fries reminded me of Elevation Burger's fries: mostly soggy. I got the BBQ sauce and had some with both items. The BBQ sauce was pretty good. Overall, one thumb up for the chicken and one thumb down for the fries.
The service was great! The people were really nice and they actually helped me out about the halal items. Everything was done professionally, which was rare for a fast food place.



Conclusion:
I would come back only for their chicken. I could definitely make multiple trips here since it is really close to where my internship is when I return to it in the summer. If you want some halal fried chicken that isn't KFC, then you should totally come out and give this place a try! Now that a Frenchy's has halal chicken, let's see whether Raising Canes or Popeye's locations would start serving halal chicken or not.



Grading: 
Service: 9/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 15/20 = 75% (C)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information: 
Frenchy's Chicken
10414 Richmond Avenue, Houston, TX 77042
Phone: (713) 784-2117
Website: http://www.frenchyschicken.com/
Timings: Mon-Thu: 10:30 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sun: 10:30 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Halal Food Festival: A monumental success

Date: 11/1/15

DISCLAIMER: If I made any mistakes about whether a place was there or not, please let me know in the comments section.

Salam/hey guys! Sorry for being late as I have been busy with school. I know I am very behind on my schedule in regarding to my blog posts. Anyways, this post highlights the halal food festival that took place at Masjid Bilal in Houston, TX. As you may or may not know, Houston has grown to be one of the most diverse halal food scenes not just in the US, but in all of North America as well. In the past 10 years, places that serve food that are popular all over the world. There are still some specific cuisines needed in Houston (Moroccan, Malaysian, Vietnamese, French to name a few), but progress is being made! After hearing about the event on Facebook, I made it clear that I would be attending. The special guests were Sameer Sarmast of the YouTube channel Sameer's Eats, and Yvonne Maffei of MyHalalKitchen. There were plenty of places coming to the place. The weather wasn't cooperating, so the festival had gotten delayed to the 1st instead of the 31st of October.

So on the day of the festival, I picked up my friend and headed there. We were one of the first people there for two reasons: parking, and most importantly, the halal Texas BBQ food truck. The truck is called Chopped n Smoked, and they have the distinction of being the only fully halal place for Texas BBQ in the entire state. I had been wanting a halal Texas BBQ place since Hungry Farmer became no longer halal, so I get to see what the hype is about. Apparently the place has long waiting lines, so I wanted to come so that I could get some of their food before the rush started. Other places that came include: Dasman food truck, Gabriel's Soul Food, IslamInSpanish with home cooked food, Mezban, Lazeeza, Abu Omar Halal Food truck, Halal Cafe & Dessert, Marble Slab, Tempura, Piddy's Kitchen, and Stacatto's. The diversity is absolutely wonderful! Anyways, we prayed, and it was time to get my grub on!

Obviously the first place for me to try was Chopped n Smoked. When I was in line, the wait was only 10 minutes and I was one of the first ones in line. Later, the wait was as long as THREE HOURS! The line was so long people were getting confused as where the line for the other stuff was next to Chopped n Smoked. I had the rib, which was the biggest rib that I have had in my life so far. I got the dirty rice (rice, brisket meat, and bell peppers), a very rare halal item due to the fact that dirty rice almost always contains pork, and potato salad. I paid $12 for it. I then tried the chicken, and then the mix over rice from Dasman Food Truck, both of which I paid $5. Next, I had the Brisket plate from Gabriel's Soul Food. Finally, I had the vegetable tostada from the IslamInSpanish food, even though I was disappointed in not getting the halal tamales. After eating these items, I was beyond stuffed. I couldn't even get to try the other places, but I hope that I get to go to those places and try the food out myself and write up about it.



Clockwise from top: Mix over rice from Dasman Food Truck. Vegetarian tostada from the IslamInSPanish booth, BBQ Rib with potato salad and dirty rice from Chopped N Smoked, and brisket from Gabriel's Soul Food


The Verdict:
Everything was good, but the winners were the rib and the mix over rice. The mix over rice was at the same level as Gyro King in terms of quality and taste, The rib was just absolutely fantastic! It was actually huge and had plenty of meat. The dirty rice was also wonderful, and so was the potato salad. 



Conclusion:
The halal food festival was a monumental success and it really showed how diverse Houston is with halal food. I am pretty sure that most of the major cities in America have a lot of halal places, but not as diverse in Houston. A special thanks to Masjid Bilal on Adel Rd for organizing this. I hope we have this every year.



Grading: I will individually assign grades to the items I had
Rib: 10/10
Mix over Rice: 10/10 (so good I got another round)
Brisket: 8.5/10
Tostada: 8/10


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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed