Little India's Westcroft Center giveth and Westcroft Center taketh away. I can always rely on the chilly embrace of my beloved Kwality Ice Cream, the marinated meats of Darband Shishkabob and the chicken tikka croissants of Hot Breads. But I've had to say sad farewells to Houston's only Persian ice cream sandwiches and Afghan buffet. Happily, in the space that once held the $10 all-you-can-eat meals of Afghan Express, new, meaty life erupted on Monday.
Americans are becoming increasingly well-versed in the worlds of Korean barbecue, southeast Asian satays, even Nigerian suya, and Chinese skewers. Pakistani barbecue, however, a spicier cousin to Indian tandoori classics, is often overlooked. Kababjees seeks to change that.
For the uninitiated, a deli case filled with the raw victuals available might be easier to parse than the menu. I was enticed by the thin ribbons of beef laced onto the beef behari kebab. But looking at the menu, I knew that my best decision was not to decide. For $19.99, the BBQ Platter has tastes of all but the priciest items on the menu. A whole fish and lamb chops would have to wait for another visit.
As each item is cooked to order, it took about half an hour for my platter to be completed. But what arrived would qualify almost as much as a buffet as what will eventually be served in the chafing dishes at the back of the restaurant. The behari, though spicy, was regrettably overcooked, as was the seekh kebab. But chicken shone. I was particularly impressed with the moist, expertly spiced (though not spicy) chicken seekh. The meats arrived with sweet tamarind and creamy cilantro dipping sauces, which were a perfect accompaniment for the bread I ordered, a lovably greasy puri paratha.
With any luck, Houstonians will soon be experts in the chile-flecked world of Pakistani barbecue thanks to Kababjees.