Saturday, December 31, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: Crisp Doner Cafe: Not So Satisfactory Doners

Restaurant: Crisp Doner Cafe
Address: 2137 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/10/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! This will be a quick review. The last place I went in 2016 was a place that I had been anticipating for 6 months. It is called Crisp Doner Cafe. As an avid fan of doner kebap, I was eager to try this place out.



Let The Experience Begin!
It is located on highway 6 near the Memorial Drive intersection. The inside was very casual. You could see your food being made. I waited for 5 minutes and then ordered.



Let's Eat!
I decided to go away from the norm and try a classic doner footlong. The price was $10.81 (tax included). Waiting time was 7 minutes and 32 seconds.



Menu: This place mainly concentrates on doner, whether it's beef or chicken. Though the prices seem high, it's similar to the other Turkish places in town. Compared to the food truck, it had lower prices, but no combos.

Page 1

Page 2


Page 3



The Classic Doner Footlong

The Verdict:
Despite experimenting with it (putting one or both sauces inside the footlong), the doner was underwhelming. There was a lack in flavor. Couldn't they put in something like cheese like they did in their jalapeno sandwich? Anyways, the service was good. The people were really nice.



Conclusion:
Not the best doner I've ever had to be honest. I had something similar to this at Istanbul Grill and wasn't a fan at all. I'll try their wrap. If it's good, I'll come back, otherwise I would not recommend the place at all.



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



Restaurant Information:
Crisp Doner Cafe
2137 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 506-7589
Website: http://www.crispdoner.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Crisp-Doner-Cafe-485118828295191/
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Unknown

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

CLOSED: Windy City Grill & Pizza: A Taste of Chicago in Montgomery County

Restaurant: Windy City Grill & Pizza
Address: 1500 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 12/2/16

UPDATE 6/25/17: They are no longer in business

UPDATE 3/20/17: The Reuben, as well as the corned beef and Pastrami sandwiches, have been removed from the menu. Makes me wonder why

Background:
Salam/hey guys! At long last, we're now at not only the first review of December, but also the penultimate review of 2016. The place is called Windy City Grill & Pizza. Like many times, I found out about this place on Facebook. I called them up, and they said that everything was halal. I got to go here before I took my car for service. I was really hungry since I had not eaten anything the whole day. Since I didn't have any time to try out new places after the Mai Colachi visit, it was a refreshing feeling to come to a new place and try the food and a new type of American cuisine. You see, the word "Windy City" indicates that the food served is food that is popular in Chicago. Normally, you would be expecting another deep dish place right? Well, you have to read further down to see what is really offered.



Let The Experience Begin!
Windy City Grill & Pizza is actually located in the strip mall on Holly Hill Drive just after Research Forest Drive. Inside, the walls had pictures of everything Chicago related. I got up to the counter, asked if everything was halal just to make sure, and then proceeded to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered the Reuben on rye sandwich. The reason? I've always wanted to try pastrami and corned beef. In fact, this is the first place in the Houston area to offer pastrami and corned beef. The reuben is basically pastrami and corned beef along with sauerkraut on rye bread. It came with fries, coleslaw, and dressings. I paid $10.77 (tax included).



Menu: http://www.windycitygrillandpizza.com/menu
While D'Marcos in Sugar Land has deep dish as its specialty, this place focuses on other Chicago specialties. They have the Italian beef sandwich, a sandwich that originated in Chicago and is now a staple in Chicago cuisine, the Chicago dog, all-beef hot dog with relish, onions, sport peppers, dill pickle, tomatoes, and a special spice topped with mustard on a poppy seed bun (don't put ketchup on it), and a stuffed cannonball burger. Based on Yelp pics, the pizza seems to not use the deep dish style.


The Reuben Sandwich with fris, coleslaw, and dressing

The Verdict:
Pretty good I must say for a Reuben first timer. Everything else was good as well. No complaints about the service and they didn't seem annoyed when I asked them about having halal food.



Conclusion:
If I were to dine in the Woodlands again, I would stick to coming here. The food was good enough for me to give this place another try. I hope to try their pizza, Chicago dog, or the Italian beef sandwich the next few times I come.



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



Restaurant Information:
Windy City Grill & Pizza
1500 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas
Phone: (281) 651-5194
Website: http://www.windycitygrillandpizza.com/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/windy.city16/
Timings: Mon-Thu: 11 AM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 11 AM - 8 PM
Caters: Unknown

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

Cheers and Happy New Year!
Zain Mohammed

Quick Review: Mai Colachi: Hits and Misses Amidst the Ambiance

Restaurant: Mai Colachi
Address: 13849 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/29/16

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be talking about my experience at a high end Pakistani restaurant called Mai Colachi. This is actually the second high end Pakistani place that I have visited since moving from Saudi. I wanted to try this place because I wanted to see if it was able to be like the ones that I used to enjoy in Saudi. What also got me interested was that the chef of the original Kolachi restaurant moved right here to the Houston area to become the executive chef at Mai Colachi. The time came for me to try the place when my family was invited to a party. This wasn't food catered specifically for the party. It was just a large gathering at the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Mai Colachi is located near the 59 and Sugar Creek/Dairy Ashford Drive intersection. The inside was pretty fancy and very dark as well. The ambiance was really nice. After everyone was seated, it was time to eat!



Let's Eat!
The host ordered for us a variety of dishes. We got khatti daal, karahi mutton, karahi chicken (both of which I am assuming to be the Colachi karahi), naan, and keemari jeengha karahi. To wait, we just sat and talked.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Colachi.US/menu/?p_ref=pa
Pretty fancy if you ask me. This isn't your typical hole-in-the-wall or mom-and-pop Pakistani places. Prices are pretty high compared to the other Pakistani places, but it's a higher end place. They have steak as well (though I wonder if they would do any other temperature than well done), and interestingly Jujeh kabab.


Clockwise from top left: Colachi chicken karahi, khate daal, Colachi muttom karahi, keemari jeengha karahi, and naan

The Verdict:
I really liked how the food was presented. They bring the pan that is used to cook the food. Anyways, out of the food items, I enjoyed the shrimp, mutton, and naan. Lots of flavor in the karahis and the naan was nice and fluffy. The daal was just ok, but the chicken was the least favorite. There was little to no salt in the chicken karahi. All the food was washed with water, and there were no complaints of the service.



Conclusion:
Despite the chicken and daal failing to impress, I certainly wouldn't mind coming and trying these items again as well as trying their tikka and kabab. This is a pretty good place for you guys to go to if it's a special occasion or just want to try some high end Pakistani food.



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



Restaurant Information:
Mai Colachi
13849 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, Texas
Phone: (281) 240-0786
Website:  none
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Colachi.US/
Timings: Mon-Thu & Sun: 11:30 AM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 11:30 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

CLOSED: El Plato Caliente: Not Just Tex-Mex, but Authentic Mexican Food as Well

Restaurant: El Plato Caliente
Address: 17118 West Little York Rod, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/26/16

UPDATE 1/17/17: This place has closed down.

Backgound:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing up about the 2nd new halal Mexican place to open up this year. It's called El Plato Caliente (Hot Plate in Spanish). I first heard about this place on Facebook. Someone said it was fully halal. I confirmed with the restaurant owner that it is indeed fully halal. Let's see if this place can have items that are either unique or can easily be another M&M Grill replacement.



Let The Experience Begin!
El Plato Caliente is located at the old location of BBQ Village, which moved and expanded next door. It turned out that this is owned by the same people. But when I went in, it was nothing like what it used to be. The inside was decorated everywhere. I then got in and a Hispanic guy helped me.



Let's Eat!
Without any hesitation, I ordered the barbacoa tacos. Barbacoa is a specialty of Mexico. It's basically slow cooked and shredded beef or sheep. This is the first halal Mexican place to have halal barbacoa. For the tortillas, I got the flour ones. I also got some free chips and salsa. I paid $8.65 (tax included).



Menu: Out of all the halal Mexican places in Houston, this has the most options, AND it's fully halal! They have menudo (beef tripe soup), the usual fajitas, enchiladas, and chimichangas, and steak! They even have a chicken version of al pastor, which is huge since al pastor is almost always pork. One thing though, at least put your menu on your Facebook page or create the website. The menu pics came from the owner who posted the entire menu on a Facebook group.

Page 1 of the menu

Page 2 of the menu

Barbacoa Taco and the Free Chips and Salsa 

The Verdict:
Solid food. The lamb had a lot of flavor. To eat it properly, you add the onions and cilantro and put some lime (not too much) in top of the meat, onions, and cilantro, and eat it. The salsa was hot. Not only hot as in spicy, hot temperature as well. I always thought it should be served cold. I am not too sure if it is ok to serve hot salsa (if anyone reading this is an expert in Mexican food, feel free to comment below). Nevertheless, good food, and no complaints about the service.



Conclusion:
If you do not want to drive to M&M Grill in the Medical Center, then you should check this place out for some halal Mexican food. You don't get a lot of the stuff you see here at the other halal Mexican places in town. Since I live 10 minutes away from this restaurant, I see myself coming here more often.



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



Restaurant Information:
El Plato Caliente
17118 West Little York Rod, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 999-9146
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elpatocaliente/
Timings: Tue-Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 10 AM - 9 PM; Mon: closed
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Friday, December 30, 2016

LIT BBQ & Co: Halal Texas BBQ in Houston 5.0

Stall: Lit BBQ Co.
Address: varies
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. Today, I'll be talking about the 5th installment of halal Texas BBQ on this blog, Lit BBQ Co. Can you believe that this is the 5th installment? For this place, I'll be doing something different. I'll be summarizing both experiences. I say this because after the first trip, I immediately went back the next week, taking a friend from Atlanta. The review from the first trip hadn't been written up at the time because exams were going on and I was focusing on getting back on track (thankfully I passed all my classes). And that focus is the reason why I've been behind on my write-ups. Anyways, I wanted to try this after reading online about the place starting up as a mobile catering business (another way of saying a mobile stall). It's not a food truck, since it's on a trailer. While my parents and sister were out, I decided to give the place a try.



Let The Experience Begin!
At the time of the visits, the stall was located at the parking lot of Kababi Zaytoon (9001 Louetta Road). You get out, go to where the trailer is, and then place your order.



Let's Eat!
On the first visit, I ordered a baked potato with brisket. On the second visit, both me and my friend got the brisket sandwiches and the ribs.



Menu:
No definite menu is available. The food items available is based on what it's said on Facebook. However, the prices are cheaper compared to what other BBQ places in Texas cost. The estimates prices were under $15! One setback from both trips was that it was only open on Friday and Saturday nights.


Baked Potato

Ribs on Top and Brisket Sandwich opened on bottom

The Verdict:
The food impressed me on both visits. Despite the baked potato being small, it was still good nonetheless. The ribs and brisket were tasty as well and had a lot of flavor. The service was good on the first day, but not the second day. The people were really nice and were really helpful, but on the second day, they came much later than the 9:30 PM slot they said on Facebook. This is a major no-no, as the place would lose customers if the owner would not come at the specific time that was announced.



Conclusion:
I honestly hope that Lit BBQ doesn't suffer the same fate that the other places (except the Bark BBQ) faced, which is either shutting down or removing halal meat. They should however come up with a full menu (a must for any mobile unit). If you want some halal Texas BBQ during the night time, then you should give this place a try!
Now before I finish this review up, I am going to take this moment to speak to you: the reader. Ever since I started blogging nearly 4 years ago, I have always heard many people talk about how there should be a halal Texas BBQ place. The desire for it has always been high because 1) Texas is a major BBQ state, and 2) many people who have lived in Texas all their lives have never got to try it at all. Here's the thing, desiring is one thing, but supporting and making sure that it is open is a completely different thing. The fact that many do not realize that the previous sentence is applicable is the main reason why we are at a 5th BBQ establishment these past 4 years. Normally when you hear that there have been 5 BBQ places that use halal meat, it would mean that it is a huge hit especially with the Muslim population. The reality is the stark opposite. Out of the 5, only 2 are still in business. One is because they just started out a few months back, the other is because of the support of the non-Muslims. Two shut down and one stopped serving halal due to "unforseen circumstances". So why did two of the places close down? The answer is simple: prices. When Chopped N Smoked used to be in business, one of the complaints that I have been hearing were the prices. When I compared the prices of them to Killen's BBQ in Pearland (where they don't cook their zabiha halal brisket separately from their pork), I realized it was a repeat of what I always see many people do: complaining about halal restaurant prices while not minding non-halal restaurant prices. Those people complaining about the prices at halal places, and many others, do not mind paying similar or even more at places such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or even La Madeline for seafood or vegetarian options. Some even don't mind eating at places that use either alcohol in their cooking (alcohol evaporation chart: https://www.oasas.ny.gov/admed/fyi/fyi-cooking.cfm) or not cooking separately from the pork (why you should avoid bbq restaurants even if they have halal beef: http://muslimeater.com/2015/10/16/why-you-should-avoid-bbq-restaurants-even-if-they-have-halal-beef/). Here's the thing, paying a significant amount for some cuts of beef is real. Ribs and brisket are expensive cuts of meat, as confirmed by one of the BBQ owners that I have met. The only way we can all be happy about having a halal Texas BBQ place is if we learn to accept that halal Texas BBQ is significantly priced higher than some cuisines, just like it is with Killen's, Franklin's in Austin, and countless other BBQ places. If you are not convinced, let me ask you this. Would you love to enjoy halal Texas BBQ like a typical Texan without the pork, or would you rather see halal Texas BBQ places get shut down and the owners being upset about the lack of support from the Muslim community after they do you guys a favor by providing the exact same things as a typical Texas BBQ place without the pork? It's up to you.



Grading: Based on both visits
Food: 9/10
Service: 7/10 (Points deducted for late arrival)
Total: 16/20 = 80% (B)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Lit BBQ Co.
Location varies
Phone: (832) 431-0518 (If you live in Houston, then I strongly suggest you save this number. You can order via text for catering or even ask for the menu of the day)
Website: None
Timings: per Facebook: Fri-Sat: 9:30 PM - 2 AM
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Abu Omar Halal Food Truck: Finally Found a Good Regular Shawarma Spot

Food Truck: Abu Omar Halal Food Truck
Address: 2116 Fry Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/5/16

UPDATE 5/6/17: They now have a location in Sugar Land. They have now 7 locations all over Houston. After eating it a few times, I can safely say that this is the best shawarma I've had since moving to the United States. Even my own family were mind blown over the quality and taste of the food.

UPDATE 2/6/17: I went back and tried their Shawarma Arabi, and it was absolutely mind-blowing. Easily one of the best shawarmas I've had since moving to the US. They are also opening up a location in Cypress on 290 and Spring Cypress Road. I am really looking forward to trying it.

UPDATE: Their Katy location is now at 1810 Fry Road. They also have a location in Webster at 580 Eldorado Road.

Background:
Salam/hey guys! On this day, I tried Abu Omar Halal Food Truck. I heard a lot about this place, and about how great their shawarmas are. They've been open since my days at UH, but I never got to try them. My interest in trying them spiked when their Katy truck first started operating. I had time before my next class, so I decided to go.



Let The Experience Begin!
At the time of the visit, the food truck was located near the Fort Stanton Drive location. I parked, and went to order the food.



Let's Eat!
I ordered a regular chicken shawarma. I got it with vegetables. Price? $6.50. Waiting time? About 6 minutes.



Menu: http://abuomarhalal.com/menu.html
It's mainly the usual Mediterranean fare, but on a food truck. No mixed grill though. One thing that's different than Gyro King at the Medical Center location is that they have drinks for sale.



The Chicken Shawarma
The Verdict:
The shawarma was really good. However, there were some vegetables missing, though the menu on Facebook said that those vegetables were included as well. The missing of the vegetables were indicative of the service. It seemed like the ordering process was rushed. Nevertheless, good stuff.


Conclusion:
Despite the mess-up on the vegetables, Abu Omar still has a solid shawarma. I would definitely come back to try the other items. I would also recommend you to give this place a try. A huge perk is that they are open until late in all locations.



Grading:
Food: 8/10 (Would've been graded higher if all the vegetables were in there)
Service: 6/10
Total: 14/20 = 70% (C)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information (Current Katy location)
Abu Omar Halal
1810 Fry Road, Katy, Texas
Phone: (832) 929-9339
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abu-omar-halal-103499869990386/?fref=ts (really important to save this page as they are active on here)
Instagram: instagram.com/abu_omar_halal (I suggest you follow them as they are very active on here)
Timings: Daily 11 AM - 3 AM
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: Cedar's Bakery: A Taste of Childhood

Restaurant: Cedar's Bakery
Address: 8619 Richmond Avenue, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 9/30/16

UPDATE 2/6/17: Went back again and ordered the cheesebread. This time, I got it folded. I grew up eating it folded with a can of Mirinda Citrus. This one absolutely nailed it. I think that a tradition will be reborn after a long hiatus within a few years, with the only difference being that I get the cheesebread on Friday instead of Wednesday!

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to the first of the few quick reviews. I had been out for a while because I had been incredibly busy with school.Today I went to a place that was featured on the top 100 restaurants list on the Houston Chronicle: Cedar's Bakery. I've heard a lot about this place and about how they have some wonderful cheese bread. Cheese bread is something I really enjoyed growing up in Saudi. Every Wednesday, my dad would get cheese bread, shawarma, and a can of Mirinda Citrus for my family and we enjoyed it at a price of about $1.30. It was a fixture for 5 years. 10 years later, I set out to try what many have said to have the best cheese bread in town.



Let The Experience Begin!
Cedar's Bakery is located on Richmond Avenue. It's one of the few Mediterranean places to not have hookah. The interior was simple. You had tables, counters, and a huge oven. After confirming it was halal, I was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered a simple cheesebread. Price? $3.78 (tax included). Nearly triple the amount that I used to pay in Saudi, and this is just the cheesebread. Oh well. Everything was made right in front of me.



Menu: http://www.cedarsbakeryhouston.com/menu/
The menu is really affordable. Nothing is over $10. They have items such as shawarmas, and many other pies and pizzas



Displaying image2.JPG
The Cheese Bread
The Verdict:
I have to admit. I got pretty nostalgic while eating it. It was that good. Felt as if I was eating just the cheesebread from that same place. No wonder they were voted in the Top 100 Restaurants in the Houston Chronicle by the food critic Alison Cook. No complaints about the service either. The people were really friendly, and were really happy to be featured in the list.



Conclusion:
Cedar's is a place you should definitely give a try. Good people, and fresh food. Hopefully next time I'll get a shawarma along with this. If you're near the Westchase District and want a light meal, then this place is your best bet!



Grading: 
Service: 9/10
Food: 10/10
Total: 19/20 = 95% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Cedar's Bakery
8619 Richmond Avenue, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 706-4141
Timings: Mon-Fri: 7 AM - 5 PM; Sat-Sun: 8 AM - 4 PM
Caters: Unknown

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed



Friday, December 9, 2016

Louisiana Fried Chicken: Good Chicken Average Sides

Restaurant: Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken
Address: 2001 Fannin Street, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 9/21/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! This review will consist of another addition to the halal fried chicken scene in Houston: Louisana Famous Fried Chicken. For the past 5 years, there has been a boom in the availability of halal fried chicken among the major chain restaurants across America. In the Houston area, this is the fourth chain restaurant to feature halal chicken. This however is the first one to have a FULLY halal menu, including the sides. At KFC (now only the FM 529 location), only the bone-in chicken and some of the sides are halal. At Church's Chicken (only halal location is now in Pearland), only the bone-in was halal, like KFC. Finally at Frenchy's at the Beltway and Richmond, all the chicken was halal, but only two sides. This is also the only chain to have more than one halal location (the other halal location is on Veterans Memorial)
Now I know about this place for two reasons: 1) the heavy promotion of it on Facebook, and 2) me receiving an email from them about trying it out. Now I got to go here because of a contest that was taking place by Sister Sadaf of "My Culinary Adventures" (website: http://www.sadafsculinaryadventures.com/). I participated in it and won $25 worth of food. So before heading for my 6 PM class, I decided to go there.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located right next to I-45 on Fannin. It's very tricky to get to the restaurant if you're not coming from UH, where you have to turn onto St Joseph or Pease from I-45 to get to Fannin, or from downtown, where you have to just turn onto Fannin. Oh, and if you're not in the left most lane at the Pierce intersection, good luck trying to turn around. It's a pain in the butt. Once you get inside, you don't feel as if you're in a normal fast food place. It was sparkling clean. I then got a message on Snapchat from my friend asking if he could come along. I said yes (BIG MISTAKE). At the last minute, they said they couldn't make it. So I decided to make the order



Let's Eat!
I ordered dirty rice, fried chicken with bread rolls, a cup of gumbo, and coleslaw. The fried chicken was enough to share with everyone. It was also filling. So $20 for that amount of food was a good bargain.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/pg/lfcfannin/menu/?p_ref=pa&ref=page_internal
Not only is there fried chicken, there are Cajun options as well such as gumbo and jambalaya! It was nice to see that there was a halal version of dirty rice, since it usually contains pork. I find it interesting how they have fried rice on the menu.



The Verdict:
The chicken is really good. We really enjoyed it. The gumbo was good as well. The dirty rice and the coleslaw could have been better. No complaints about the service at the restaurant. I appreciate them for being patient.



Conclusion:
Louisiana Fried Chicken has great chicken. They also have a halal location at Veterans Memorial Drive. I'd visit this location again for the fried chicken and also try their jambalaya. I hope they get more halal locations.



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



Restaurant Information:
Louisiana Fried Chicken
2001 Fannin Drive, Houston, Texas 77002
Phone: (713) 497-5545
Website: none. They have a national website, but none specifically for the Houston location
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lfcfannin/
Timings: Mon-Fri: 10:30 AM - 11 PM; Sat & Sun: 11 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 12, 2016

Quick Review: Burger Tex Grill: Halal Burgers in Katy

Restaurant: Burger Tex
Address: 17756 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: neither
Date of visit: 9/16/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be doing a quick review of another halal burger spot in town. This is called Burger Tex. I first found out about this place from Facebook while I was in Illinois. I made it a point to come back and give it a try. I got to try it before heading for my old office for some work and Friday Prayer.



Let The Experience Begin!
Burger Tex is located at the intersection of I-10 and Barker Cypress Road in the strip mall where the Firehouse Sub is. Inside, there were tables and a TV playing. There was a significant amount of people there, and the line kept flowing. I read the menu and was ready to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered an 8 oz. cheeseburger combo. When it came, there was nothing but fresh buns, the patty, and the cheese. I then realized that there was a bar where you could customize the ingredients! There were toppings like romaine and iceberg lettuce, regular and caramelized onions, tomatoes, pickles and jalapenos. They even had different sauces like BBQ sauce ranch (personally I don't understand why), thousand islands sauce and the usual ketchup, mayo, and mustard. They even have sriracha. The combo came with fries and a drink. All of this for under $10 (tax included). Great value! I got the burger with mayo, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized and regular onions, and the gooey cheese sauce. For the fries, I made my own sriracha mayo sauce by simply mixing the mayo and sriracha. Think of this place as a cheaper, halal version of Fuddruckers or Elevation burger but with bigger burgers.



Menu: Now according one of the people working there, everything was halal. I also inquired about the turkey bacon, twice actually, and got that they were halal. But after reading online, some people were saying that that the turkey bacon isn't halal, but is cooked separately. On my next visit, I will find out the truth. I just hope it wouldn't turn out to be Turkeygate 2.0 (Turkeygate is a nickname of mine and others about the scandal of M&M Grill's turkey bacon from 2014). Anyways, the prices are great! Nothing over $10 and good size burgers. I'm sold.
According to their website, there is a new menu in the works. It has not been implemented at the time of the visit. When I make my next visit, or if they make an announcement of the new menu on Facebook, I will post it.



The menu (click to view)

The burger, fries and sriracha mayo

The Verdict:
The first thing that can be said is that this is nothing compared to Stanton's, but it beats Elevation Burger in terms of the build your own concept. The second thing was that the burger was pretty good, and filling as well. The fries were also good, and went well with the sriracha mayo (which I made myself)
No complaints about the service. I appreciate the lady for helping me out and clarifying that everything was halal.


Conclusion:
Though Stanton's retains the title for best halal burgers in town, I found this place to be more better than Elevation. This is a place that I could go if I wanted a burger and didn't have the time to make the drive to Stanton's or if Stanton's is closed. I'd still recommend you guys to give it a try!



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



Restaurant Information:
Burger Tex Grill
17756 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 578-9495
Timings: Mon-Sat: 11 AM - 8:30 PM; Sunday: closed
Caters: Unknown

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bombay Chopsticks: The Best Indo-Chinese Restaurant near O'Hare?

Restaurant: Bombay Chopsticks
Address: 721 W Golf Road, Hoffman Estates, Illinois 60619
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 9/4/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! At long last, I am in September. I definitely have A LOT of catching up to do. Today I will be talking about my trip to Bombay Chopsticks in Hoffman Estates, a suburb of Chicago near O'Hare. I mainly got to go here because I was hanging out with my cousins. We were hungry, so we decided to go here.



Let The Experience Begin!
The restaurant is located at the intersection of W Golf Rd and Salem Drive. This by the way is no way related to the Bombay Chopstix in the Dallas area. Once I went inside, I was amazed. It is such a nice place, considering what most Indian or Indo-Chinese places look like. Think of the ambiance as similar to Mayuri in Houston, but much nicer. It was bustling, and we were escorted to our table. After looking at the menu, we were ready to order.



Let's Eat!
We ordered a total of five dishes: chicken lollipops, hot and sour soup, chicken corn soup, American chop suey, and chili chicken. My uncle paid for the meal. We just sat around and waited.



Menu (click to view): Lunch Menu, Dinner Menu
The first thing that struck me when I looked at the menu was the dim sum, HALAL dim sum. Halal dim sum is such a rare food item in the world (excluding Muslim countries). This is because pork and lard are common ingredients in traditional dim sum.
The only other place that I heard serves halal Dim Sum that isn't a Muslim country is the Islamic Centre Canteen all the way in Hong Kong! My first instinct was to order them and FINALLY get to try it, but it would be a 25 minute wait and we didn't have that much time remaining. Bummer. Anyways, they have a very extensive menu of Asian and some Indian food items. Examples include paneer satay, chicken Singapore style, sliced lamb, and lettuce wraps. Despite the name "Bombay", the restaurant mainly focuses on Asian specialties.  The lunch menu doesn't apply for the weekend. Weird as they are open on the weekend as well.



Clockwise from top left: chicken lollipops, hot and sour soup, American chop suey with chicken, chili chicken, and chicken corn soup

The Verdict:
Man, this place was wonderful! This is also the best Indo-Asian place I've had in America so far, beating Bombay Chopstix in Dallas by a significant amount. It's the third best I've had in my life (first is Grill in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and second is Ohri's in Hyderabad, India). I use Indo-Asian instead of Indo-Chinese because not all Asian food is Chinese. Everything was of high quality and was really tasty. The chop suey was also good, even though I am not a big fan of the crispy noodles. The food was washed down with water. Overall, two thumbs up for the food.
No complaints about the service. The people were friendly. Special thank you to the waitress who told us that the Dim Sum was a 25 minute wait, otherwise we would have been late to the wedding reception.



Conclusion:
If you want to have some good Indo-Asian food that is not at Devon Avenue or want to have a quick meal before your flight at O'Hare, then you should consider this place a try. I would definitely visit this place again and finally try their dim sum. With the trip over, I am hoping that I get to try other Indo-Asian places like Bombay to Beijing or Aling's in the future and compare it to the food here and the places I used to enjoy in Saudi.



Grading: 
Service: 8/10
Food: 9/10
Total: 17/20 = 85% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$

Restaurant Information: 
Bombay Chopsticks
721 W Golf Road, Hoffman Estates, Illinois 60619
Phone: (847) 380-5775
Website: http://www.bombaychopstickschicago.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bombaychopstickschicago
Timings: Lunch: Mon-Fri: 11:30AM - 2:30 PM & Sat 12 PM - 3 PM
Dinner: Mon-Thu: 5:30 PM - 10 PM; Fri-Sat: 5:30 PM - 11 PM; Sunday: 12 PM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes
Takes Reservations

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Al Bawadi Grill: Best Halal Mediterranean Restaurant in Southern Cook County?

Restaurant: Al Bawadi Grill
Address: 7216 W 87th Street, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of Visit: 9/3/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review! After visiting two places in Atlanta, I am reviewing the places that I visited Chicago. The first place is called Al Bawadi Grill, located in the suburb of Bridgeview. Normally halal food is Chicago is associated with Devon Avenue or Lombard, but in Bridgeview, the nickname of the place is Little Palestine. And there lies a cluster of Arab businesses and halal restaurants. Most of the halal restaurants in Chicago are concentrated in Cook and DuPage counties. To be fair, Cook county is really big. Anyways, we came to Al Bawadi because my mom was going to meet a childhood friend of hers from her schooldays in India. After they arrived, we went inside.



Let The Experience Begin!
The inside was just awesome. The atmosphere was really nice, and it meant to look as if you were in the Middle East. They also had a huge table that could seat 10 people under a tent inside the restaurant. Basically, the inside is like Cafe Mawal back in Houston (based on pictures that I have seen of it), but with the tent inside with large tables, a bunch of tables with a TV playing, and no hookah. Seems like the sort of place that I would love to visit frequently if it were to be in Houston. What immediately struck me was the uniforms. The uniform was the traditional dress from Syria/Palestine. An older gentleman with a thobe and kuffiyah was going around offering Arabic coffee (which I took) in the traditional jugs and in the small coffee cups that are traditionally served. I do not remember going to any restaurant in such a long time where it was like this. Definitely a refreshing experience compared to what is the norm at most halal places. After talking for a bit, we were ready to order.



Let's Eat!
We ordered the Mashawi platter, two actually. It basically had all the meat options (shish kabab, kufta kabab, chicken kufta, shish tawook, quail, lamb chops, and shawarma meat), grilled onions and tomatoes served over biryani (not Indian/Pakistani) and saffron rice garnished with parsley and roasted almonds. We got one with the quail and one without the quail. Along with that came baba ghanoush, garlic sauce, pita, picked vegetables with Arab salsa, salad, and hummus. Boy they do know how to feed us lol. There were so many things that I found it hard to put them all on my Instagram pic.



Menu: http://www.albawadigrill.com/menu
This place has a really large menu for a Mediterranean place. They have breakfast as well. They have the regular popular shawarmas and kebabs as well as quail and lamb chops.





Top: The Family Platter. Middle Row from left to right: baba ghanoush and garlic sauce. 3rd row from left to right: pita, Arabic coffee, pickled vegetables and Arab salsa, salad, and hummus


Menu:
Move over Sayad, I've found the best tasting Mediterranean restaurant in America right here! This also means that it's the best Mediterranean food that I have had outside Houston. The food was simply phenomenal. We all were huge fans of the food. The only blemish was that the salad had too much dressing on it. We all drank water and had a nice conversation. Overall, two thumbs up.
The service was good. No problems and the people were nice.



Conclusion:
I definitely see myself going back frequently whenever I visit Chicago. This is a great place to try if you want to try some Mediterranean food. I would definitely put this on top of one of the places that I would recommend to eat at in Chicago.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 10/10
Total: 19/20 = 95% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Al Bawadi Grill
7216 W 87th Street, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455
Phone: (708) 599-1999
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/albawadigrill/
Timings: Mon- Thu & Sun: 10 AM - 11 PM; Fri and Sat: 10 M - 11:30 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bento Hut: A Halal Pan-Asian Restaurant in Northern Georgia

Restaurant: Bento Hut
Address: 349 Decatur Street Southeast, Atlanta, Georgia
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 8/28/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today  will be talking about a restaurant that is popular in downtown Atlanta, and has a huge variety of options available. This place is called Bento Hut. The name suggests that it is a Japanese place, but it offers a lot more than just Japanese food. I will explain in detail in the Menu section. I first heard about this place when they followed me on Instagram. I saw the menu and I was mind blown. Since it was planned that I was coming to Atlanta, I decided to give it a try when I get to hang out with a childhood friend. Fast forward to August, and I was in downtown Atlanta. I went to CNN Center after trying grits for the first time (they were NASTY, one of the worst things I've ever eaten in my life). It is basically where the global CNN headquarters are. I then went over to the World of Coca Cola after walking through Centennial Olympic Park. There, we overindulged on sodas (they have a place where you can try over 100 sodas), where they give you free Coke when you enter, and when you exit. The best memory I have of the trip was when my friend played a prank on me by telling me that the Beverly soda was the best one. It was literally the worst soda that I have ever tried in my entire life. Turns out it's a common dislike among many. We then walked to the car and then drove to Bento Hut.



Let The Experience Begin!
Bento Hut is located near the Downtown Connector. It was a while until we managed to successfully park. Inside, there was a TV playing, and there were tables. We decided to sit comfortably. After looking at the menu, it was time to order.



Let's Eat!
It took a while for me to decide what to get because there were so many choices that I had. I ended up ordering halal ramen- a first for me. I also ordered quail egg sashimi (yes I'm adventurous) and also chicken katsu. Think of it as a halal version of the ramen you get at Jinya. I never had quail egg before, so I wanted to give it a try. I also wanted to try the chicken katsu because chicken katsu is a rare thing (katsu is usually made with pork a.k.a. tonkatsu). My friend ordered a chicken bulgogi plate. I paid between $10-15 (tax included). The waiting time was 15 minutes and 4 seconds.



Menu: http://www.thebentohut.com/BentoHutmenu.pdf
Literally all I can say is WOW. SO MANY ASIAN OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM! Not even Houston, New York or Los Angeles has many options. It has from Japanese to Korean to Chinese to Malaysian to Thai options! They even have plenty of sushi and sashimi options available to choose from. I seriously believe that a halal Pan-Asian place that has so many options would succeed in Houston.



Clockwise from top left: Ramen, Chicken Bulgogi with Jasmine Rice, quail egg sashimi, and chicken katsu


The Verdict:
The food was actually good. To be more specific, everything was good except the ramen. The ramen was just ok. The first time trying quail egg was good, and I didn't fall sick from eating a raw egg lol B). The bulgogi was fantastic. Lots of flavor in the dish. We both had water.
The people were really nice, so no complaints about the service. They were also helpful when it came to giving us more time to decide what to get as well as giving out some recommendations.



Conclusion:
Bento Hut was a good way to end my Atlanta trip of trying places. They have items you don't see at halal places in Houston. I certainly wouldn't mind visiting here again and trying some more of their dishes as well as the chicken bulgogi.



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 8/10
Total: 17/20 = 85% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Bento Hut
349 Decatur Street Southeast, Atlanta, Georgia
Phone: (404) 614-6199
Website: http://thebentohut.com/
Facebook: none
Timings: Mon-Fri: 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM and 4 PM - 10 PM; Sat: 12 PM - 10 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 9:30 PM
Caters: Yes
Online ordering and delivery available

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jerusalem Bakery and Grill: Mediterranean Food in the Peach State

Restaurant: Jerusalem Bakery and Grill
Address: 585 Franklin Gateway SE, Marietta, Georgia
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 8/27/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review! Today I will be talking about my first experience in the city of Atlanta. Atlanta has a significant number of halal places, but they're mainly in the north and northeast side of town, (Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinnet counties). Cobb county, where Marietta is located, doesn't have as many. I was honestly shocked since I always thought that Cobb county was the second significant county in the Atlanta area after Fulton. One of the places that I actually got to go to was called Jerusalem Bakery and Grill. This was a last minute decision since there were over 15 family members and we had to drive all the way from Masjid Farooq in downtown Atlanta just to go there. We also decided to go here because it was near the hotel that we were staying at (Hilton Marietta Conference Center). After the nikkah was done, we went there.
Keep in mind that this is different than the Jerusalem Bakery and Restaurant in Alpharetta.



Let The Experience Begin!
To get to the place, you have to get onto South Marietta Parkway SE from I-75, thentake a left onto Franklin Gateway SE and then get into the strip mall. Attached to the restaurant was a bakery, where you could buy them for your house. We all got chairs and sat down. My uncle asked what we wanted and were ready to go.



Let's Eat!
Most ordered the chicken shawarma sandwich, falafel, or the philly cheesesteak. I ordered the shawarma plate. I did this after asking what was popular and the response was "Everything". We all got Mexican glass bottle sodas. Most got Coke, including myself, and some got Sprite and Fanta. As soon as the food is ready, it is delivered to the other side of the restaurant, where someone calls out the order. While waiting, I watched them prepare the food and talked to my cousins.



Menu: http://jerusalem-bakery.com/restaurant/
Not only do they have Mediterranean food, they also have pizzas, calzones, and strombolis. The pricing is pretty good.



The shawarma plate. I got the chicken

The Verdict:
One thing that particularly surprised me was that they didn't give the garlic sauce or hot sauce when you get the place. You have to go to the counter and ask for them. Then, you pour some over the plate and eat. Anyways, the food was on point. My family loved their food and were raving about it. They also gave me props for telling about this place.
The service had no issues. Just got the food, enjoyed it, thanked them, and left.



Conclusion:
If you want to have some halal food in Marietta, then I would recommend this place. It's also very filling. A good start to this Atlanta trip.



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



Restaurant Information
Jerusalem Bakery and Grill
585 Franklin Gateway SE, Marietta, Georgia
Phone: (770) 419-1666
Website: http://jerusalem-bakery.com
Timings: Mon-Sun: 9 AM - 9 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Afghan Express: The Worst Afghan Place I Have Eaten at So far

Restaurant: Afghan Express
Address: 5600 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: Buffet
Date of visit: 8/16


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be doing a really quick review of another Afghan place called Afghan Express. I got to go here from my internship because I did not bring lunch from home. Since it was a Tuesday, I could eat lunch, then head immediately back to work.
Now let me tell you something about the location. In the past 5 years, there have been 3 separate restaurants that have occupied the space. Afghan Express is the 3rd one. The only other time that a new halal place replaces an old halal place was when Fatoush replaced Aladdin's (independent of the Aladdin on Westheimer).
One thing to note about this place is that it has received a lot of positive feedback on the Internet. In fact, I first heard about this place via extremely heavy promotion on Facebook in various groups. What immediately caught my eye was that they used the same logo as Afghan Dastarkhwan and put Afghan Express on it. It turns out that the same people who used to own Afghan Dastarkhwan now own this place. There is even an article written about them by Houstonia Magazine named "Why You Should Try Afghan Express' $10 Lunch Buffet" (article: http://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2016/4/29/why-you-should-try-afghan-express-10-lunch-buffet).



Let The Experience Begin!
Inside, it was DEAD. For most of the time, I was the only one inside the restaurant eating the food. It was incredibly eerie. There was only a TV. I got in and started eating.



Let's Eat!
It was a buffet consisting of various Afghan items like Kabuli Pulao, bolani, and the Afghan version of chicken tikka. It came with free naan. To drink, I just had water. I paid a total of $10.98 (tax included).



Menu: http://www.afghanexpress.net/menu-specials.html
The buffet from what I know is only on the weekdays for lunch. The online menu on the other hand is for other times. Now, one thing: WHICH MENU IS THE CORRECT ONE??? Both have different prices on them for the majority of the menu items. How can you commit a fundamental mistake by not deciding what prices to use? If anyone were to dine in for the first time, you give them one menu with one set of prices, and then you actually charge them the prices from the second set, then you'll lose customers and you'll get a bad reputation for ripping people off.


Top: naan. Bottom right: Kabuli pulao, chicken korma, chappli kabab, chicken kabab, and chicken tikka. Bottom left: daal, bolani, chappli kabab, chicken korma, and chicken tikka



The Verdict:
The food was a hit an miss. The naan and the chappli kabab were the only things that I liked. That's it. I didn't like the Kabuli Pulao (or rather the Kabuli Pulao rice as it lacked the lamb shank). I didn't like the daal as well, and this is from someone who is a huge daal fanatic. The chicken tikka, chicken kabab, and chicken korma were OK. However, one of the pieces of chicken tikka that I had was actually raw (I wish I still had the pic). The bolani was without a doubt the worst that I have ever had in any Afghan place. I expected much much better. Overall, one thumb down.
The service was much worse. No greeting from the owner. Literally no words said. During my entire trip, he was very quiet. I said "Thank you" and he never responded. Never has this happened to me in a while. What also put me off was that when a group of older customers came, he was very friendly greeted them, and even conversed with them. I don't know whether it's either favoritism or it's that the owner is like this towards other people or youngsters or that he was scared that I was going to say something bad about his food.



Conclusion:
I'm not going to lie. I was thinking of trying their a-la-carte one day if the buffet was good. But since both the buffet and service did not hit the mark, I'd neither recommend this place nor would visit the place again. Heck, if I want some good Afghan food, I'd just head to Afghan Village or Afghan Cuisine.



Grading:
Service: 3//10
Food: 5/10
Total: 8/20 = 40% (F)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Afghan Express
5600 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas
Phone: (281) 974-2163
Website: http://www.afghanexpress.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/houstonafghanexpress/
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 10 PM
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

3 Bros Kabab House: House of Kabab^2

Restaurant: 3 Bros Kabab House
Address: 8586 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 8/11/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! This will be a quick review of 3 Bros Kabab House. I haven't been able to write on my blog because I've gotten really busy with school and other things that have been happening in my house. Anyways, 3 Bros Kabab House is basically run by the people that used to run House of Kabob. When they were running House of Kabob, their food was good, but the service could have improved. This is the best chance I have to see whether they improved or not. I got to go here before attending the Friday prayers. After telling my boss I was going to lunch and prayer, I headed out for the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin:
The restaurant is located on Westheimer and Dunvale on the left side. Inside, there were tables and the counter. You go up, and order.



Let's eat!
I ordered the mix shawarma combo that came with rice, free pita, and two free sides (take note Indian/Pakistani places). The sides I chose were the salad and fries. I used spicy rice, which was what I had used when I went to House of Kabob under their ownership. I paid a total of $10.28 (tax included). The waiting time wasn't long. Just about 6 minutes.



Menu: https://www.facebook.com/3broskababhouse/menu/?p_ref=pa
It has the basic things the Arab places have such as kababs, baba ghanoush, and shawarmas. Interestingly, they have burgers, even stuffed! One thing I saw waiting was a mouthwatering plate of shakshuka that was served to a customer. I guess that's one of the things that you can order, but isn't on the menu.



The Mix Shawarma Plate


The Verdict:
The food was great. The only issue though was that the beef shawarma was somewhat dry. Everything else was full of flavor. They had garlic sauce also, and that was very good as well. The food was washed down with water.
The service was wonderful. The person at the counter is very nice and are the people working there as well.



Conclusion:
3 Bros is a good spot to go for some Mediterranrean food. This would be ideal if you want to have some good Mediterranean food that is near the Galleria. I will definitely making visits to the place more often.



Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 8/10
Total: 18/20 = 90% (A)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
3 Bros Kabab House
8586 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 485-0211
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/3broskababhouse/
Timings: Mon-Thu and Sat-Sun: 11 AM - 10 PM; Fri: 2 PM - 11 PM
Caters: N/A

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: The Bark BBQ: Halal Texas BBQ is Back!

Establishment Name: The Bark BBQ
Locations: Thursdays: Westchase Farmer's Market (10503 Westheimer Rd, Houston, Texas), and Saturdays at Farmer's Market in Sugar Land
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of Visit: 8/4/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my next quick review! Today I will be reviewing something that was desperately needed in Houston: Halal Texas BBQ! This place is called The Bark BBQ. This is actually the 4th BBQ place that I have tried. First one was Artis La Bonne BBQ back in 2014, second was Hungry Farmer also in 2014, and Chopped N Smoked BBQ last year. Although I never actually went to the Chopped N Smoked establishment, I tried them at the Halal Food Festival at Masjid Adel last year. Sadly, they closed down, and I had to wait until a new halal BBQ place came. Although this was open for a while, it was nearly impossible to try this place because it would always be far from where I lived. Thankfully, I got to try it because it was very near my work. After I got off, I went to try the place.



Let The Experience Begin!
The Westchase Farmer's Market is located in the parking lot of the church. You park the car, and then head to the stall where it is located. DIdn't wait for long, since I had already determined what I wanted to order.



Let's Eat!
I ordered a 1/2 plate of brisket. I also got some pickles, onions, and bread. The price? $10 (no sales tax). Very similar to what you expect at Killen's in Pearland or Franklin's in Austin. To wait, I had a nice chat with the people selling. A huge plus is that when you get the food, you get to put as much BBQ sauce as you want. And they also let you take free samples (at least when I was there)



Menu: Very small. Based on their Facebook page, the menu is different on specific days. When I was there, they had brisket, chopped beef, and chicken. Later, they had smoked salmon, and earlier, they had beef sliders. I asked them about the ribs, they said that it is very expensive (which I agree with). They also cater, which is a major contribution to their revenue. The prices are similar to what you would expect at Killen's or Franklin's.



The 1/2 Brisket


The Verdict:
Fantastic. I really enjoyed the brisket and the BBQ sauce. Everything was fresh. Two thumbs up.



Conclusion:
No need to worry about Chopped N Smoked closing. Give this place a try! You'll definitely be able to enjoy some delicious halal BBQ once again!
There are a few things I will say. Do not complain about the prices being high, because BBQ is actually expensive. Don't be the sort of person that would complain about the prices here and then spend more money at a place like Olive Garden or Red Lobster. It's this thing that has caused Chopped N Smoked to go out of business. The owner himself said that he wish that it "had turned out better". Also, don't compare Texas BBQ with Indian/Pakistani BBQ, because each type of BBQ is unique and has different tastes. BBQ sauce doesn't go well with seekh kabab or chicken tikka. If these mentalities go away, then halal Texas BBQ can actually be successful and can last for long.

Grading:
Service: 10/10
Food: 10/10
Total: 20/20 = 100% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
The Bark BBQ
Phone: (832) 282-4927
Website: none
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBarkHalalBBQ/ (They are the most active on here, so liking their page is recommended. I have a picture of their business card. If you want it, you can email me)
Timings: Thu: 3 PM - 7 PM; Sun: unknown. I will find out whether they no longer go to the Farmer's Market in Sugar Land
Caters: Yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

QUICK REVIEW- Shri Balaji Bhavan: Vegetarian again!

Restaurant: Shri Balaji Bhavan
Address: 5655 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 8/4/16

Since school is starting to kick in really hard causing major delays in my reviews, I have decided that I will start this thing called Quick Reviews. This won't be as elaborate as my normal reviews, but it will highlight all the major aspects of a restaurant experience.

Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my first restaurant experience for the month of August! Today I will be trying a vegetarian place called Shri Balaji Bhavan. This allows me to compare it to Saravanaa Bhavan which is a few miles away from Hillcroft on Westheimer. I went with my boss.



Let The Experience Begin!
It is located right opposite Busy Boy. The inside was ok. There was a TV playing an Indian Channel.



Let's Eat!
My boss ordered the Madras Thali and I ordered the vegetable biryani and got a Frooti to drink.



Menu: Based on the menu pics on Yelp, the entrees mainly focus on dosas and rice dishes. They do have thalis though.


Shri Balaji Bhavan - Houston, TX, United States. Menu.
Le Menu. Photo Credit: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/shri-balaji-bhavan-houston?select=R8MeUPb1ZtgEGqcEB_XN1Q


Vegetable Biryani with Raita


The Verdict:
The food was pretty good. My boss loved his thali.



Conclusion:
A solid vegetarian place. I'd come for their biryani again. I wish they would put in some curries on their everyday menu.



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



Restaurant Information:
Shri Balaji Bhavan
5655 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas
Phone: (713) 783-1126
Website: none
Facebook: none
Timings: Mon & Wed-Sun: 11 AM - 9:30 PM; Tue: closed
Caters: Unknown

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed

Monday, August 22, 2016

Staccato's: Great, But Still Couldn't Topple the Best

Restaurant: Staccato's
Address: 11300 Beechnut Street, Houston, Texas 77072
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit:7/28/16


Photo Credit: their website


Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review! Today I will be writing about my experience at another place where you can get halal burgers, Philly cheesesteak, and pizza. This place is called Stacatto's. I first heard about this place from someone who posted about the restaurant on Facebook. I saw the menu and I thought it would be worth trying out. A few months later, someone who knows me personally told me that the Philly cheesesteak he had was better than Busy Boy. That really got me interested in trying the place out. For many years, Busy Boy has been my personal favorite spot for Philly Cheesesteak in Houston. Last year, I said that Sayad took the spot for the best Mediterranean restaurant in Houston that I have had so far. Will the Philly cheesesteak at Stacatto's be good enough to topple Busy Boy? Let's get this going!
My chance to try it came when I finished work early. It was on the way home, and I had not eaten anything that day. So I decided to drop by and give it a try.



Let The Experience Begin!
Stacatto's is located where King's Chicken used to be for many years. I was one of only a few people inside the restaurant at that time. The restroom was out of order. The owner greeted me, and without any hesitation, gave my order.



Let's Eat!
I gave a huge hint on what I ordered in the "Background" section, but I'll say it here in case anyone doesn't understand what I said. I ordered the Philly cheesesteak. It came with fries. The owner asked me whether I wanted it spicy or regular. I went with regular, which is what I get 99.9% of the time when I go to Busy Boy and eat their cheesesteak. I paid $8.65 (tax included) for it. The waiting time was 14 minutes and 5 seconds. To wait, I browsed the internet on my phone.



Menu: http://www.beyondmenu.com/36606/houston/stacatto-s-houston-77072.aspx#group_1318660
Now what's weird is that on their actual website, the menu is on a Word document. It would be better if it was either on PDF or the website itself. Anyways, not only do they have subs, they also have burgers, Mediterranean food, pasta, pizza, and fried chicken. Nice diverse options in one roof.


The Philly Cheesesteak


The Verdict:
Overall, the food was great. The fries were perfectly crispy, and the cheesesteak was also good. However, the cheesesteak was not good enough to topple Busy Boy's for the title of best halal cheesesteak. I felt that there was something missing from this cheesesteak. I also didn't like how the beef was garnished with what I am assuming to be black peppers.



Conclusion:
Stacatto's may have fallen short of Busy Boy, but it was good enough for me to give this place another try. A lot of their food items look really delicious



Grading:
Service: 9/10
Food: 8/10
Total: 17/20 = 85% (B)
Pricing: $ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Staccato's
11300 Beechnut Street, Houston, Texas 77072
Phone: (281) 809-5837
Website: http://www.stacattos.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stacattos/
Timings: Mon-Thu & Sun: 10 AM - 9 PM; Fri-Sat: 10 AM - 10 PM
Caters: yes

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

Cheers!
Zain Mohammed