Restaurant Review: Zohra

In Downtown, It’s Business As Unusual

Maren Tarro
3 min read
Mmmmmeat on a stick. (Sergio Salvador
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Looking over Zohra’s menu was frustrating. My issue wasn’t limited to classifying, or perhaps clarifying, a rundown of far-reaching Middle-Eastern cuisines. Attempting to separate Indian dishes from Pakistani dishes from Afghani dishes from Iranian dishes is challenging enough; try adding Navajo tacos, hamburgers and spaghetti to the mix. Zohra does, apparently covering its bases by offering anything a Downtown diner could possibly want. It’s a lot to consider. The menu comes off as muddled, but the broad claim of “authentic cuisine” covers a little bit of everything. Don’t concentrate too hard. Just point somewhere and start chewing.

I loves me some meat on a stick, so I immediately went for chicken kababs over rice ($7.95). The chicken was moist and unbelievably tender. It melted away from its skewer like a Popsicle in July. And the rice? Fluffy and light and dotted with peas. Each basmati grain stood alone without clumping or sticking.

salan ($4.99) had the same beautiful chicken, minus the stick. Here, it was stewed in a rich, warm gravy heavy with cardamom and mint, among other aromatic spices. Absolutely lovely. It was surprising, too, to find myself eating such a stunning Middle Eastern representation in a nondescript corner of the Galleria office complex.

And then, hello gyro! To be honest, gyro meat usually pisses me off. It’s so … undefined. And it spins upright. While Zohra’s wasn’t altogether unique, it did carry a certain “favorite street-cart” flavor. It was the kind of gyro you stumble out of a bar craving. Technically correct or not, it was good (and only $5.50).

Skip the spaghetti and meatballs ($5.95). Period. The noodles conjured uneasy memories of Chef Boyardee’s trademark mushiness, while the sauce was flatter than a prairie in Kansas. This pasta pile should have been cast into exile along with its meatballs, which were inexplicably sweet, as though they had been glazed in honey.

Falafel ($5.50), on the other hand, was just right: crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and nicely spiced throughout. Stuffed into a pita and topped with
chaka (an Afghani sauce of yogurt and cucumber), the fried falafel is sold as a compact, meatless lunch. Almost all Zohra’s dishes are served with a dollop of chaka which, like its Greek cousin tzatziki , acts as a cooling contrast against the warmth of numerous seasonings.

Since soft drinks are served canned or bottled, carrying your lunch back to the office is easy and spill-free. Service is fast and counter-style; orders are taken and prepared in no time. A small dining room gathers patrons around a large, flat-screen TV, although staring out the windows at business-attired passersby is also an option. Open only for breakfast and lunch, Zohra’s clearly caters to the 9-to-5 crowd. And if you can’t tear yourself away from your desk, you can have your fragrant dish of
salan delivered right to your cubicle.

Restaurant Review:

The Alibi recommends:

• Falafel sandwich

• Gyro sandwich

• Chicken skewers over rice

• Chicken
salan and making faces at guys in suits
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