Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pho A&A: It's Pho Sure Good

Restaurant: Pho A&A
Address: 6700 Denton Highway, Watauga, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 10/2/19

Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing about my first time trying a popular Vietnamese dish: Pho. Pho is basically Vietnamese beef noodle soup. It is really popular in Houston and, but there's no spot in Houston that has halal beef pho even though it's one thing that so many people want. In fact, there are only three Vietnamese spots in the entire country that have halal pho. One is Pho Ellie in Fullerton, California (Orange County), Simply Banh Mi in Washington DC, and the place I went and I am writing about now: Pho A&A in Watauga, which is about 11 miles northeast of Fort Worth. I first heard about it after one of my Instagram followers from the DFW area tried it and loved it. I immediately put it in my list of places to try. The only issue is that whenever I visit the DFW area, I usually go to the Dallas side since I have relatives in Allen (near Plano). Pho A&A is about an hour from there.
So how was I able to go and try it? Well, I went on a business trip to Fort Worth, and I happened to have time to try it. After checking in at the hotel, I went and tried it.

Let The Experience Begin!
Pho A&A is located at the intersection of Denton Highway (US 377) and Chapman Road. It was empty, so I helped myself to the table. After looking through the menu, I was ready to order.

Let's Eat!
I ordered a large pho bowl, which costed $11.99 + tax. Along with the bowl came bean sprouts, jalapenos, basil, and lime. The waiting time was 12 minutes and 21 seconds.

Menu: Menu (click to view)

It's amazing how much variety of pho they have, AND they're fully halal. They have a whomping 5 varieteies of halal pho to choose from. Along with the regular steak pho, they have one which has steak along with tendons and tenderloins, a chicken pho, a shrimp pho, and a vegetarian pho. Another menu item that looks really promising is the Korean Short Ribs, another thing not available in Houston. They also have a Thai menu to choose from.

Large Steak Pho

How it's presented. You Mix the bowl before eating
Bean Sprouts, Basil, Lime, and Jalapenos (aka the condiments of the Pho Bowl)

The Verdict:
For someone having it for the first time, it was legit! The way it works is that you add as much of the condiments as possible to give the bowl its flavor. The bowl was very flavorful, and it was also really big. Great value for how much it costs. The meat was nice and tender, and the noodles were cooked perfectly. They pho sure feel you well. No issues with the service.

If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, take the drive there. Halal pho is a rare thing in this country, and this is the only spot in all of Texas to have halal pho. The people are friendly, and they feed you well. I hope there will be one in Houston in the future.

Food: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Total: 17/20 = 80% (B)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$

Restaurant Information:
Pho A&A
6700 Denton Highway, Watauga, Texas
Phone: (817) 656-4878
Website: None
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phoAandA
Timings: Tue - Thu & Sun: 11:30 AM - 9 PM; Fri - Sat: 11:30 AM - 10 PM
Caters: yes

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

Zain Mohammed

Sufi Kabob: Hello Corpus Christi!

Restaurant: Sufi Kabob
Address: 7150 S Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas
Buffet or a-la-carte: a-la-carte
Date of visit: 9/30/19

Salam/hey guys! Today I will be writing about my experience at a spot not in Houston, but in Corpus Christi! This place is called Sufi Kabob. I was in Corpus Christi on a work trip. For those outside Texas reading, Corpus Christi is a city along the Gulf Coast that is about 215 miles south of Houston. I originally thought of going to Kuzina, but they were closed until Wednesday. So using a quick Google search, I found this place. After checking into my hotel, I went and checked it out.

Let The Experience Begin!
Sufi Kabob is located at the intersection of S Padre Island Drive (aka TX 358 feeder) and Rodd Field Rd next to the Wingate by Wyndham. It's not too far from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, as well as the main mosque of Corpus Christi. The interior was nice. There was classical Bollywood music playing along with a TV showing the Monday Night game between the Bengals and Steelers. You order at the counter, pay, then sit down.

Let's Eat!
I ordered a custom plate. It's basically a combo of two kababs served with rice, salad, and naan. THe two kababs I got were their sufi kafta (beef kafta) and their chicken kafta. The total price? $14.99 + tax. You get sauces on the side of your dish. The sauces are: tzatziki sauce, red hot sauce (which was muhammara), and a mint chutney sauce. The waiting time was not bad at 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

Menu: https://orders.cake.net/11102080

The menu is basically on a website for online ordering/delivery. It is mainly Mediterranean, with some Indian/Pakistani options to choose from. They have a skewer of vegetarian kabab, which is basically a skewer of vegetables grilled. They also have their take on the popular chicken over rice dish that has taken America by storm for the past decade.

Custom Plate

Custom Plate

The Verdict:
Despite the price being high, the food was delicious. Out of the two kababs, the sufi one was better. It had more flavor. The sauces were also good. The tzatziki and mint chutney were on point. It was perfectly made. The muhammara had a kick (as expected). The food was washed down with a glass of water. According to the folks working there, everything is halal. No issues with the service.

Sufi Kabob is definitely a spot to check out if you are planning a trip to Corpus Christi. It's not only far from the mosque, it's also not far from the Battleship and the beach.

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

Restaurant Information:
Sufi Kabob
7150 S Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas
Phone: (361) 356-6715
Website: https://orders.cake.net/11102080 (This actually is the link for the menu)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Indian-Restaurant/Sufi-Kabob-175677819750993/
Timings: Mon - Sat: 11 AM - 10 PM; Sun: 12 PM - 8 PM
Caters: yes

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

Zain Mohammed

Friday, August 23, 2019

Where to eat at ISNACON 2019- A Comprehensive Guide

Where to Eat While in Houston for ISNCON – 2019 edition

Assalam Alaikum guys! Welcome to Houston and to ISNACON! Not only is Houston well known for NASA and its Southern Hospitality, it is also known of having a very diverse halal food scene! Here are some of the options that you can choose from during your stay in Houston. Some opened up during after last year’s convention, and some are still that good! Bon Appetit!

Downtown to the 610 Loop.

1)      Phoenicia Specialty Foods- 1001 Austin Street.

This is still the closest halal restaurant to the George R. Brown Convention Center, and the only one that can be accessed by foot. This place has a variety of items to choose from. You on choose from traditional shawarmas to cold cut sandwiches. You also get a wide variety of international groceries and halal meat.

Cuisine: Mediterranean

 Chicken Shawarma

2) Stanton’s City Bites – 1420 Edwards Street

Located only 5 minutes from the Convention Center, Stanton’s City Bites is still one of the most popular options for halal burgers in Houston. They have halal chicken and beef burgers, chili, and hot dogs, and all the halal stuff is cooked separately on a separate grill from the pork items. All you need to do is to mention halal and no bacon to the cashier when ordering your food. You get that classic diner feeling when you dine there, so you don’t want to miss out!

Cuisine: American

Holy Cow Burger

Monster Burger

 3) Pinkerton’s BBQ - 1504 Airline Drive

Out of THREE options for halal Texas BBQ, Pinkerton’s BBQ is the closest to the convention center! The place still uses Creekstone Farms beef for their ribs and brisket, and smoke and cut the beef separately from the other meats they serve. They are a favorite not only with the Muslim community here in Houston, but also with many Muslims that visit Houston. The vegetarian sides that they offer are their coleslaw and their potato salad. Be sure to come at exactly 11 AM if you want to grab one of their ribs: they sell out in between 60 and 90 minutes! 

Cuisine: Texan 

Half Pound Brisket with Potato Salad

Chopped Beef Sandwich

4) Tourao Brazilian Churrascaria: 4412 Montrose Boulevard

Think of Fogo de Chao, but with halal options! Nearly every meat option in this restaurant is halal! Along with the traditional tableside carving of the meat, they provide hot dishes for you to also enjoy! Simply mention to your server that you want the halal options, and they will take care of you! Tip: order your steak medium rare for the best taste, and do reservations as weekends tend to be packed.

Cuisine: Brazilian

 An Assortment of Different Cuts of Meat (Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp)

An Assortment of Items From the Hot Dishes and Salad Bar

 5) Gyro Hut - 2807 Old Spanish Trail

Gyro Hut is a spot in the heart of the Medical Center that has delicious NY Style platters in town! They give generous portions and they also have a large variety of vegetables that you can choose from for your platter. Another good thing is that this place is open late on weekends!

Cuisine: NY Style Platters

Chappli Kabab Over Rice

Combo (Chicken and Gyro) over Rice


 Between I-610 and Beltway 8

1) Abu Omar Halal – Various Locations

Abu Omar continues to be is one of the most successful halal restaurant chains in the city. Established after a failed venture into the taco truck business, Abu Omar grew from a small truck in the Medical Center to having eight locations in Houston, and they are not stopping in growing. They provide shawarma and NY Style platters, but the one thing that everyone loves is their chicken shawarma arabi. Their location between I-610 and Sam Houston Tollway is 7727 Westheimer, and their location in the Medical Center is 7500 Almeda.

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Chicken Shawarma Arabi

2) Busy Boy- 5722 Hillcroft

Busy Boy continues to provide excellent food and service. Everything here is halal, and they offer a wide variety of items such as cold cut subs and sandwiches, burgers, Philly Cheesesteaks, and Po-Boy’s. They also have crepes (savory and sweet) and desserts. So, if you want to have some dessert after eating at the restaurant, just walk over! Tip: Eat The Fries with the garlic sauce.

Cuisine: American and Mediterranean

Philly Cheesesteak

 3) Peli Peli Kitchen – 9090 Katy Freeway

This place is a fully halal spot and is a sister restaurant to one of the most prominent restaurants in Houston – Peli Peli. You can choose from a variety of items such as Peri Peri chicken, a burger made from frikkadele (South African meatball), and Portuguese Beef Fajita tacos! They have another location off I-610, but this is the only location to be halal (the other location is inside a Whole Foods). Tip: They have table sauces available if you want to make your dish spicier.

Cuisine: South African

Quarter Chicken topped in Peri Peri sauce, cilantro, and peppadews with Mac and Cheese

Boneless Thigh topped with peppadews and cilantro with Cauliflower Rice and Mac n Cheese

The JoBurger

Curry chicken topped with cilantro, fried onions, and peppadews with rice and mac and cheese

 4) Bismillah Cafe- 5696 Hillcroft

The expanded restaurant opened earlier this year, and some new burgers were introduced! This place still offers top notch American burgers along with Desi fusion burgers. They also have a Desi menu.

Cuisine: Fusion Pakistani-American with American Items

Patty Melt on Texas Toast

Ten Chicken Burger on Texas Toast


Original Burger With Beef Bacon Add-on and Fire Fries. Warning, The Fire Fries are Extremely Spicy


Volcano Burger 

5) Galleria Food Truck Park – 2829 Chimney Rock

This place is actually a food truck park where different trucks come and set up shop for the day. Thankfully, Two with halal options are permanently here. The first is Mico’s Hot Chicken. This serves an amazing hot chicken sandwich, where you can customize how hot you could make the chicken. If you sign up for their most hot, the x-hot, they make you sign a waiver. They also have animal fries and tenders basket. Right now the tenders are halal, but they cook it separately from the breast (those are the only meats they sell), and you can substitute the breast on the sandwich. Their timings are 12 PM to 8 PM, there's often a long line, and no online or phone orders! So instead of debating between Popeye's and Chick Fil A, try this place!

The second food truck is one that pays homage to Detroit: Midwest Coney Connection. They sell coney dogs, and some amazing wings along with Philly Cheesesteak. They also sell Faygo, a popular brand of Soda from the Midwest. Right now, the coney dogs, wings, and the Cheesesteak are halal.

Cuisine: American

 Spicy Wings from Midwest Coney Connection

The Sammich with chicken tenders from Mico’s Hot Chicken


Chicken Tenders Basket from Mico's Hot Chicken

 6) Barbar Mediterranean Grill – 7917 Westheimer

Run by a chef who used to run a prominent halal Mediterranean restaurant in Dearborn, Barbar Mediterranean Grill is a spot that is enjoyed by many Houstonians who want to eat Mediterranean food. They are most known for their grilled chicken, which you can get either half or whole. A good thing is that they are open late as well.

Cuisine: Mediterranean

 Half Grilled Chicken with Fries


7) Beeezzz Doner & Kebap – 7919 Westheimer

Beeezzz Doner & Kebap has become a popular late night spot for Houstonians. In the middle of the night, this food truck serves up items such as Adana kebap and doner kebap that would remind you of your last trip to Istanbul. They also serve their sandwiches “Arabic style”. They're open until 5 AM on weekends.

Adana Kebap Over Rice

Outside Beltway 8

1) Aga’s Restaurant- 11842 Wilcrest Dr - Stafford

Aa trip to Aga’s is worth venturing to for their goat chops. Along with their goat chops, try their incredible Peshawari Chicken and Chicken Makhni. Go before the rush though! I heard the whole block would be packed with folks wanting to come in and eat!

Cuisine: Indo-Pak

Peshawari Chicken and Matka Daal

 Chicken Makhni

The Famous Goat Chops

Clockwise from Top Left: Goat Curry, Tandoori Chicken Handi, Chicken 65, and Goat Biryani


2) Deen’s Cheesesteak – 5222 Barker Cypress Road – Katy/Cypress

Deen’s Cheesesteak has been providing some of the best halal food in the northwest side of town. The owner, who grew up in the Philly area (South Jersey), provides different types of cheesesteaks along with the traditional one that pays homage to its birthplace. They also have pizzas, boneless and bone-in wings, and rice platters.

Chicken Tikka Cheesesteak from Deen’s

3) Eggcellence Café – Katy and Sugar Land
Imagine your favorite spot for brunch, but with halal options! They have popular brunch items such as eggs benedict, chicken and waffles, omelets, and pancakes. A good thing is that these items are served all day. They also have items such as chicken fettucine alfredo, chargha, and kabab. They used halal chicken, beef, and turkey, and they are also cooked separately from the pork.

Chicken and Waffles

Korean Chicken and Waffles

4) Las Brasas Charcoal Chicken – Westchase
Rotisserie Chicken Shops are a common thing over America, but Las Brasas is one that is incredibly popular among many people, including Muslims, in Houston. They have incredibly delicious chicken, and they are also generous with the portions they give for the sides. Try their chaufa (fried rice with rotisserie chicken), their vegetarian pinto beans (they do not serve pork), and their sauces. They also have a halal beef option – their lomo saltado (sautéed beef). Try the sauces. They go very well with the chicken.

½ Grilled Chicken with Vegetarian Pinto Beans and Salad

5) Poblano’s Mexican Grill – Energy Corridor
Mexican food is very popular in Houston, and Poblano’s is one that has halal options available. They have popular dishes such as chile relleno, chimichanga, sopes, fajita plates, enchiladas, and burritos. The halal options are the chicken and beef fajitas, ground beef, chicken milanesa, their soup, and shredded chicken. All the beans are vegetarian as well. The halal options are also cooked separately from the other meats that are offered.

Chimichanga with rice and refried beans

Enchiladas and a crispy taco with rice and refried beans

Chile Relleno

6) Jade Ly Asian Bistro – Sugar Land
Near the beautiful Maryam Masjid lies a halal American Chinese spot that is small but serves some delicious classics such as kung pao chicken, and Mongolian beef. Jade Ly has grown to be one of the most popular halal Chinese spots in town. One good thing about this place is that their lunch specials are available all day, so you can try a dish along with fried/steamed rice, a side, and soup. They also give free rice crackers. Just a heads up: the chicken egg roll or chicken dumpling aren’t halal.

Beef with Broccoli, fried rice, and crab puffs

Mongolian Beef, Fried Rice, and Crab Puffs

7) Space City Pizza – Clear Lake
Space City Pizza, which is a halal spot that is close to the Johnson Space Center, offers a Detroit style pizza to go along with the regular pizzas they serve. They have a halal menu, which consists of both American and Desi pizzas. They are currently take out only, but they are worth trying.

Detroit Style Halal Meatball Pizza

Detroit Style Halal Beef Pepperoni Pizza

If you have any questions, feel free to message me on my Instagram at thehalalreviewer (instagram.com/thehalalreviewer), message me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thehalalreviewer), or email me at zain.mohammed93@gmail.com!

I hope you enjoy your time in Houston!

Zain Mohammed