Even conservative Muslims have likely had better sushi than the slightly chemical fish served here, since fish isn’t affected by zabihah slaughter rules. But this is the only halal Japanese restaurant in Texas, so it’s still worth a stop for likeably syrupy yakitori and negimaki, udon dishes and hibachi stir fries.
Served in a space as opulent as a modern Gujarati palace, the cuisine here is purposeful and groundbreaking, but the vibe is comfortable. Meals start with ghee-brushed naan and daal, progressing into unconventional versions of classic snacks (try the sweet potato samosa chaat and guava-vanilla lassi) and entrées that introduce Indian spice to western standards like foie gras and filet.
Even in diverse Houston, it’s not easy to find Indonesian food. The owners of this petite storefront understand, and they’re happy to guide newbies through the menu. Thai-food lovers will be surprised at the richness of the skewered chicken sate ayam. Nasi goreng kambing, a curried fried rice with lamb and pickled cucumbers, has flavor for days with a portion to match. Hit the drink case for boxes of sweet jasmine iced tea.
The Houston Iraqi community heads here to smoke hookahs on the patio and listen to live music until the wee hours. The menu—written in sometimes difficult-to-parse phonetic English—combines American burgers and Philly cheesesteaks with deeply flavored Iraqi kabobs served with lemon-heavy herb salads and warm pita.
The menu promises “the thrill of the grill” and delivers in meaty spades. The mixed grill, which combines five different heavily spiced kebabs on a sizzling platter, is best accompanied by doughy garlic naan and tangy tamarind-mint chutney. For something different, a giant club sandwich stuffed with roast beef, turkey and an omelet hits the spot.
This elegant lunch buffet is neighbors with Indo-Pak grill Tempura Halal Restaurant, chaat spot Madhuram Mirch Masala, and Pakistani kebab shop Bundu Khan, making its FM 1960 strip center an excellent corner of Houston for halal subcontinental cuisine. Speaking of variety, it’s hard to beat Rangoli’s spread of salads, stews, tandoori dishes and desserts, including rosy-hued kheer.
Forget about forks at this Nigerian finger-food specialist. Peanut-flavored suya skewers aren’t so different from Indonesian satay, but toothsome jollof rice, topped with tender goat and flavored with an earthy wash of spice, is pure African. If you ask nicely, they’ll even give you a spoon.
Diners enjoy wood-fired and charcoal-grilled meats at a table or the counter, or relax on a rug with comfy pillows in the classic Arabic majlis area. Get the grilled chicken dish called kebsa dejaj or an order of crispy fried fish, both served with the smoky baba ghanoush, hummus and hot, puffy Saudi flatbread that come with every meal.
Houston is one of just a few cities in the country with a restaurant entirely devoted to the Muslim Turkic people of China’s Xinjiang province. The wide, ropy noodles of spicy Big Plate Chicken and chunky, spice-crusted lamb skewers are terrific, while the sticky, risotto-like rice of the Uyghur polo comes alongside one of our favorite lamb shanks in town.
As the server says, “Don’t believe everything you read” when it comes to the menu. The almond-covered lamb shank over buttery saffron rice, for example? Not on there. Let the staff lead you to the best bites, whether it’s bubbly za’atar-covered manakish or chicken shawarma with vegetables and garlic sauce rolled into homemade pita. Take home some sweet date cookies for later.