100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 55, Palestinian Chicken at Al Aseel
Photos by Troy Fields
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.
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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