100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 55, Palestinian Chicken at Al Aseel
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
Photos by Troy Fields
In January's cafe review of Palestinian diner Al Aseel, I referred to an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm called "Palestinian Chicken" in which Larry David's character on the HBO show finds a Middle Eastern restaurant serving the best grilled chicken he's ever tasted.
David, a Jew, keeps eating there despite the restaurant's anti-Zionist leanings and -- in typical Larry David style -- even ends up sleeping with the proprietress because he finds her anti-Semitic attitude sexy.
You can see the entire episode above, if you're interested. I'm not a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm -- which, to me, is a less funny and more spiteful, masochistic version of Seinfeld -- but millions of people are. Which is why, in the days following the episode's original air date on July 24, Google searches for the term "Palestinian chicken" led to those viewers discovering that -- yes -- Palestinian chicken is a real thing.
Last year at our sister paper in Los Angeles, former food critic Jonathan Gold responded to questions from LA Weekly's readers about the provenance of Palestinian chicken and where it could be found.
"It's not generally referred to as Palestinian chicken," Gold wrote, "but the Palestinian kitchen is well-known for a chicken dish called mousakhan, baked with onions, spices and lashings of tart sumac, often served with broad sheets of ultrathin bread."
Gold noted that there wasn't a place in Los Angeles which serves musakhan chicken (a.k.a. Palestinian chicken). Which is why, once again, you can trumpet Houston's culinary superiority over L.A.'s.
Not only can you get musakhan chicken here in the Bayou City at Al Aseel ("What's not to eat in Houston?"), you can get it in half or whole orders; a whole musakhan chicken will feed two. And not only can you get half or whole musakhan chicken at Al Aseel, it's delicious to boot. But don't expect any anti-Zionist propaganda from owner Ali Khativ -- it's all about the chicken here.
The list so far:
No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac
No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's
No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets
No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito
No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery
No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar
No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch
No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito
No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F.
No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe
No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers
No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay
No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe
No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño
No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen
No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme
No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts
No. 83: Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge
No. 82: Short rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
No. 81: Grilled shrimp po-boy at Pappadeaux
No. 80: Dahi puri at Shiv Sagar
No. 79: Aporreado at Los Corrales
No. 78: Oxtail francobolli at Aldo's Cucina Italiana
No. 77: Tonkotsu at Cafe Kubo's
No. 76: Spinach danish from Angela's Oven
No. 75: Pupusas at El Petate
No. 74: Pheasant dog at Sammy's Wild Game Grill
No. 73: X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria
No. 72: Esparragos gratinados at Tintos
No. 71: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen
No. 70: Geisha dog at Happy Endings
No. 69: Oyster po-boy and gumbo at Goode Co. Seafood
No. 68: Ceviche at Sirena Seafood
No. 67: Caldo de mariscos at Taqueria Arandas
No. 66: Banana pudding at Pizzitola's
No. 65: Fried catfish and gumbo at Cafe-A-La
No. 64: Soft-shell crabs at Banana Leaf
No. 63: Macaroni and cheese at Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse
No. 62: Torta burger at El Gran Malo
No. 61: Black bean burger at Ziggy's
No. 60: Parillada at Pampa Grill
No. 59: Peanut butter and jalapeño jelly burger at Wicked Whisk
No. 58: Eggplant involtini at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 57: Lone Star dog at James Coney Island
No. 56: Sushi at Sushi Miyagi
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