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Jingha Biryani Jingha Biryani

Khyber Grill: Your Too-Cool-For School Indian Restaurant

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When you drive past Khyber Grill, you’re likely to do a double-take to check you read correctly. Yes, the restaurant actually has posted 'x' weird saying or 'y' inexplicable quote on its sign. If you shake your head in confusion and maybe even annoyance and keep going down Richmond, you don’t get it and you won’t get it. That’s a damn shame because for tolerating its slightly bizarre sense of humor (also manifested in its goofy wait staff) Khyber rewards you with some terrific Indian food.

Appetizers such as the crowd favorite chooza, strips of white meat chicken marinated in yogurt, battered, and fried, and samosas, plump with soft peas and spiced potatoes, are delivered extremely promptly upon order. Get at least one appetizer even if you think you’re not that hungry because they’re made fresh and the temporal gap between starters and mains at Khyber can be a bit long.

Of special distinction at Khyber is the selection of biryani, a spiced rice dish that occurs in different variations throughout India. The vegetable and chicken biryani are very good for mild, less adventurous palates, but if you want a full-force biryani experience, order the jingha, which combines smoky grilled shrimp, almonds, sultanas, and fragrant saffron rice. And, for goodness’s sake, make sure none of your hapless dining companions mistake it for a side of rice and drown out its flavor with a scoop of curry gravy. Biryani can and should stand alone.

Don’t overlook the vegetarian entrees, for though on the surface the choices seem rather predictable (at least for the seasoned consumer of Indian food), the painstaking preparation and superior ingredients mean the saag paneer, vegetable jalfrezi, and baingan bhurta are par excellence. With regards to curry-based entrees, the lamb vindaloo is the clear standout and can be made obscenely spicy if you cajole your server sufficiently. For less heat but as intense flavor, I very much recommend the mixed tandoor grill.

Despite its unassuming storefront, Khyber is somewhat of a hotspot. You’re well advised to make reservations, or at least be prepared to wait, especially on weekend nights when it fills to the brim with large parties celebrating birthdays, family milestones, or just another day off from work. Khyber has a quiet but loyal following, perhaps why the restaurant sees no need to revamp its dated interior decor or lay off weird messages on its signs. After one supper or takeout dinner, you’ll understand and probably become a part of this patronage. And maybe even one day get the joke.

 

Khyber Grill
2510 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098

Khyber Grill on Urbanspoon

Written by Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

Joanna O'Leary

With a bachelor's degree in English from Harvard University and a PhD in Victorian literature from Rice University, Joanna O'Leary enjoys reading and writing almost as much as she likes to eat. She has worked as a food and travel writer for a number of publications including Let's Go, Wine Enthusiast, Black Book, the Onion, and the Houston Press, and is currently writing a book on amateur turn-of-the-century cookbooks and material culture.


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