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. 

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!

Zain Mohammed

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