More often than not, when a single dish at a restaurant gets most of the attention, it's almost guaranteed to be a disappointment. Remember when I tried the fajitas at Ninfa's? At Aga's Restaurant & Catering at the junction of Southwest Freeway and Wilcrest Drive, that item is the goat chops. I didn't want to order them. They could only be deflating, likely tough and flavorless. But since I'm a meat completist, I did order Aga's BBQ Platter, a combination of seven different preparations of flesh, including a single goat chop. And I'm glad to say for once I was wrong.
But everything I tried at Aga's was at the very least good. As soon as I saw the paan stand at the front of the restaurant, I suspected I was in good hands. Few things more clearly denote a restaurant designed for Indo-Pak expats than an area devoted to rolling mouth-numbing betel leaves around a variety of sweets. Let's just say it's an acquired taste.
There's no alcohol served at the halal restaurant, so I sipped a mocktail version of a mango mojito while I waited for my meal. Points for that, and for the fact that when I ordered a family-sized entrée and bread, my teenage server asked if I'd like anything else.
That bread was exceptional in its own right. Sheermal is available at only a handful of places in Houston. Texturally, it was similar to Persian barbari bread, complete with perforations to ease tearing. But while barbari bread is fairly plain and much like naan in flavor, Aga's sheermal is honey-kissed and aromatic with saffron.
Still, the meat is the matter at hand. Beef and chicken versions of seekh kebab, bihari and boti may sound redundant, but the marinades of each of the meats was slightly different, meaning six individual flavors, not three applied to different animals. The yogurt-soaked chicken boti was a highlight, but it wasn't easy to pick favorites. Until I bit into the goat chop. The flesh gave way, disappearing into nothingness almost immediately, in a spicy, sweet tangy blast of flavor that made it amply clear why the menu called them "the most popular grilled goat chops in Texas." Perhaps not the most hotly contested category, but worthy of praise all the same. As much as I loved all the meats, next time I'll likely order a big plate of nothing but the magical meat. They are, after all, very much worth the hype.