Monday, February 29, 2016

UPDATED DISCLAIMER

All opinions expressed on this blog are personal opinions and therefore are subjective. I only seek to share my opinions and participate in something that I enjoy. I review halal restaurants for the sole purpose of providing subjective information about the places I visit.
I am not paid to review any specific places. Every restaurant I review is paid for with my own money. 

Uyghur Bistro: Not Your Typical Chinese Place

Restaurant: Uyghur Bistro
Address: 9888 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 2/13/16



Background:
Salam/hey guys! Welcome to my latest review. Today I will be reviewing a restaurant that has a new style of Chinese cuisine. The place is called Uyghur (wee-grr)Bistro. So what is the new style of Chinese cuisine? Well, it is called Uyghur cuisine! Uyghur cuisine is the food that is commonly eaten by the Uyghur people. The Uyghur people are a Turkic ethnic group, and they mainly live in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang in Northwest China. A lot of their food is influenced by Central Asian cuisines. Majoirty of Uyghurs are Muslim, and the majority of Uyghur dishes are predominately halal. This is extremely different than normal Chinese cuisine. Normally, Chinese cuisine has a lot of pork along with chicken, beef, and duck. Uyghur cuisine mainly has lamb and mutton, which is not normally used in traditional Chinese cuisine. And there is no alcohol in the cooking, as opposed to normal Chinese cuisine where in many instances alcohol is used in the sauces used to cook or in the food itself. Many specialites include the laghman noodles, polo (Uyghur pulao) , Uyghur kebab, and big plate chicken (also called dapanji). I actually found out about this place when I saw another Houston foodie go and check out the restaurant. I called them up and they said that they were actually halal. My incentive to go greatly increased when many foodies from Houston had encouraged me to go and try after they enjoyed the food themselves. I had to wait for a while before I could actually go because I was busy with school. Finally, I got to go there before meeting up with a few friends. After getting the housework done, I went to the restaurant.



Let The Experience Begin!
Uyghur Bistro is located at the intersection of Bellaire and Corporate Drive in the new Chinatown (also referred as Asiatown). This is in fact the only halal restaurant in the new Chinatown today (new Chinatown is the area bordered by the Sam Houston Tollway, Gessner Road, Beechnut Street, and the Westpark Tollway. Old Chinatown is near downtown). A few years ago, there used to be a place called Chinese Halal Cuisine, but it closed down. I went in, and the ambiance was nice. The restaurant was full of many people from different backgrounds, including Chinese people. There was music playing, and there were traditional ceramics and textures in the restaurant as well. I said salam to the waiter, then got to the table. Then I had started looking at the menu.



Let's Eat!
I have to admit. It was kinda difficult thinking about what to order, since I was new to Uyghur cuisine. I eventually decided to try the classic laghman. It was laghman noodles with vegetables and lamb. I paid a total of $12.45 (tax included). The waiting time was 11 minutes and 32 seconds.



Menu:
This is definitely an authentic Uyghur place. It has items that are popular with the Uyghur people. There are some terms you may have never heard of, so I'll describe them in the captions of my food pics.

The specialty dishes


Main Dishes. Daoxiao, Ding Ding, and Gan Bian = a different types of noodles


Kebabs and special dishes


Soup, salad, and drinks

Classic Laghman


The Verdict:
Now let me tell you something. The noodles are INSANELY LONG. Tastewise, the food was good. The noodles were fresh, and so were the vegetables. The food was washed down with a glass of water.
The service was great. The people were really nice. I was observing one waiter interact with a couple of first time diners who were actually trying Uyghur food for the first time



Conclusion:
The food was good enough for me to plan my next trip. I hope one day that we will be able to see the hand-pulling of noodles being done because it is literally art. I told the waiter that and they would one day think about it. I hope it would come one day!



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



Restaurant Information:
Uyghur Bistro
9888 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, Texas
Phone: (832) 795-9259 or (281) 888-6227
Timings: Tue-Sun: 11 AM - 3 PM & 5 PM - 9:30 PM; Mondays closed
Caters: unknown

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

Cheers
Zain Mohammed

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Haveli Kabab & Grill House: Another Buffet place

Restaurant: Haveli Kabab & Grill House
Address: 5901 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas 77036
Buffet or a-la-carte: buffet
Date of visit: 1/30/16




Background:
Salam/hey guys! Today I will be sharing my experience that I had at another Pakistani restaurant: Haveli Kabab & Grill House. Haveli is one of the newer halal Indian/Pakistani places. It has been open for business for nearly a year now. I have heard mostly positive reviews about this place. The time came for me to try when I was with my friends at the Houston Auto Show. We were done seeing cars and test driving some and then decided to go eat somewhere. One of the friends was in the mood to pig out because he hadn't eaten all day. So he decided that we should try it out. His parents went and said they liked it. I hoped it would be good. After praying, we went inside the restaurant.



Let's The Experience Begin!
The inside was pretty dark compared to other Pakistani restaurants. You had tables with chairs, a huge fish tank, and a common sighting among Indian/Pakistani restaurants: the buffet spread. We then got drinks and then headed to the buffet spread.



Let's Eat!
Well, we had the buffet. The buffet had a variety of items such as biryani, different karahis, haleem, nihari, and tandoori chicken. We had to request naan to be brought to the table, and they got it within minutes. We also saw the restaurant getting prepared for the dinner buffet. Some items just disappeared and new items came. One that struck me was an entire fish fitted into one tray with a lot of spices on it. It was fairly priced.



Menu: http://havelihouston.com/index.php/menu/
Well, since this is a daily buffet place, consider using the menu if you want to get takeout. Not that much difference in terms of items provided compared to other Indian/Pakistani restaurants. You have various karahis, tandoori items, and biryani. If you do get takeout from this place and you want naan, expect to pay at least $1 for the basic naan.



Buffet plate consisting of chicken biryani, chappli kabab, frontier chicken, chicken tikka masala, and mutton karahi. In another plate, I had the chicken tikka. I also had naan (this was taken before the naan came)


The Verdict:
The buffet was a hit and a miss. The hits were the chappli kabab, the frontier chicken, and the naan. The naan was very fresh and I liked it compared to some of the other places that I have been to. The frontier chicken had a good taste, and the chappli kabab here was almost as good as the one at Khan BBQ. The misses were the biryani, chicken tikka masala, and chicken tikka. The biryani was very plain. The chicken tikka masala was very oily. Chicken tikka masala and oiliness do not go together at all. Chicken tikka masala is usually very creamy and has a lot of flavor. Finally, the chicken tikka was dry. There was absolutely no flavor at all. Even my friends, who all love Indian/Pakistani food, mentioned that it was not good either. Overall, one thumb up and one thumb down.
The service wasn't that bad. The people are nice. Note: pay after finishing eating at the front.



Conclusion:
Haveli is a lot like other Indian/Pakistani places, but there are some items that actually taste good. With three other Indian/Pakistani places in the vicinity, I would pick this and Mezban if I wanted a Pakistani buffet. But if I want the best Indian/Pakistani food on or near Hillcroft, I would go to either Hyderabad House or Mayuri.



Grading:
Service: 8/10
Food: 6/10
Total: 14/20 = 70% (C)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$



Restaurant Information:
Haveli Kabab & Grill House
5901 Hillcroft Street, Houston, Texas 77036
Phone: (832) 740-4255
Website: http://havelihouston.com/index.php/menu/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/havelihouston/?fref=ts
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11 AM - 11 PM
Caters: Yes
Banquet hall available

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