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The chicken koobideh from Cafe Abdullah is served with rice, roasted tomatoes, radishes, and a garnish of fresh herbs. (Photo by Stefan Modrich) 

 

In the back of the Awami Markaz Halal Meat & Grocery store you'll find a tiny open kitchen known as Cafe Abdullah.

This source of quality Persian, Indian and Pakistani produce and meat staples also has a takeout-only restaurant serving Philly cheesesteaks and burgers ($11 each) and a variety of beef and chicken kebabs. 

The restaurant itself recommends the chicken koobideh ($12.99) to visitors, noting that it is the most popular item on the menu. 

If you’ve never had ground chicken, which is what koobideh is, it may be as strange an experience for you as it was for me. The traditional koobideh is a kebab made of ground lamb or beef, served with fire-roasted tomatoes and onions and a “salad” that is mostly a mix of parsley and other herbs with thin radish slices and a small, Lego-sized brick of feta cheese. 

Once I was able to adjust to the textural difference, it was a very enjoyable meal. The sumac dry rub spice blend is made mostly of berries found from the sumac flower grown across Africa, East Asia and North America. It gives the chicken a distinct tangy flavor. 

The chicken was packaged atop a massive mound of soft, fluffy basmati rice. It was so warm that an individually-wrapped package of butter had already melted through the wrapper and into the rice. Also included with the meal is a pillowy, fresh pita bread. 

If you’re interested in other choices, the chicken barg ($14.99) or beef barg ($15.99) are kebabs marinated with garlic, lime and saffron. 

Chenjeh Sultani ($16.99) is beef kebabs served on skewers and also marinated with garlic, lime and saffron.

While it is on the pricier side, Cafe Abdullah’s generous portions and good quality make it a worthwhile pit stop if you need something substantial in a pinch. 

Cafe Abdullah

Address: 1730 Williams Trace Blvd., Sugar Land

Dining Options: Takeout 

Hours: 11 am.-7 p.m. daily

Entree prices: $11-$18.99

Kid-friendly: No

Senior discount: No

Alcohol: No

Healthy options: None

Star of the show: Chicken koobideh 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

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