6121 Hillcroft # T
I first saw this Pakistani grocery store when I checked out Dilpasand Mithai next door and have been meaning to get back over there but I've been avoiding Hillcroft because of all the construction. Traffic in the area is about back to normal but ironically I was stuck in a traffic jam along there recently so I decided it was time to check it out.
It's much smaller than Savoy, the Pakistani grocery on Wilcrest, about the size of a convenience store. The emphasis seems to be on ready-to-eat and convenience foods rather than staples. There is much less of the bulk rice and flour and lots of chaat. The freezer and cooler displays are much smaller and the Halal meat case is smaller, though well stocked.
I was fascinated by the vast array of products and picked up some of the same items I've seen at Savoy for slightly less, although I couldn't guarantee that advantage would hold across the whole product line.
I found the zeera cookies (cumin) that I liked so much, this brand unsalted, moister and flakier, fresher tasting, and even more addictive, tea rusks and mixes. I picked up a Bhel Puri mix that I thought was produced here in Houston but upon closer examination of the label realized it was just imported by a Houston company. The package included the puffed rice and crackers (papdi or papri?) plus peanuts, a packet of masala and a packet of sev, the small crisp noodles, plus instructions on how to add vegetables to produce the final dish.
The breads in the fresh bread rack felt warm to the touch but by the time I got home with a loaf it no longer was. I picked up some baladi from Sahara Bakery on Richmond. It turns out this is an Egyptian peasant flat bread, a little fluffier than pita, and it was quite good, better than the masala naan I picked up from the refrigerated cases at Savoy, and toasts up very nicely in a toaster.
In an alcove in the corner is a small sweets bar offering two kinds of falooda, kulfi, lassi and gola ganda, the Pakistani version of a snow cone, and a few other things.
I had seen Sahara Bakery (9542 Richmond) before and always meant to check it out. After trying the baladi, I looked it up on line. A new website is under construction; the shopping center has undergone renovation and apparently the business has been downsized and the picture on the website is not what the strip center looks like now. I went interested in trying the restaurant but it is no longer in operation. I browsed the aisles only briefly and picked up some pickled vegetables that included wild cucumbers and noted the loaves of bread were definitely still warm from the ovens so I'll be going back to pick up some bread (there are only 3 or 4 varieties I think) when I use up what I've got.