Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mo's Knockout Grill and Mediterranean Food

7918 Kirby  CLOSED

I've been having to spend some time in the Medical Center lately and have checked this place out and wound up returning several times. It's in the space formerly occupied by DJs Old-Timey Hamburgers which was originally a Toddle House, I think.

I have been trying for years to like falafel. Conceptually I should like it but the execution is frequently poor; there must be something about frying little round thingies - hush puppies, oysters, popcorn shrimp, falafel - that stymies the skill set of the average fry cook. Such items too often come out over-cooked. In the case of falafel, this means too hard and thick a crust, dried out interior, or, sometimes, they're grease-soaked. My first bite of a falafel gyro at Mo's was a pleasant surprise and so far they have not let me down. The fry cook, by some accounts, Mo's Dad, has a light touch and the falafel comes out about as perfect as any I've ever had. The picture is of a falafel appetizer plate I had on a subsequent visit and I'm surprised the camera didn't catch the steam rising from the piece I just broke open. Actually, the interior was a little mushy but after resting and cooling off a few minutes, it was wonderfully light, spongy and cake-like, almost. The falafel is not as spicy here as at Zabak's I'll have to admit but since the spices aren't incinerated or charcoalized by over-cooking, it is possible to appreciate the savory bites every bit as much as the ones I've had at Zabak's, which has disappointed me on occasion by serving overcooked falafel with hardened crust.

Another revelation was the pita at Mo's which is steamed, guaranteeing you don't get dried out, leathery bread requiring tearing rather than biting. The piece in the picture was a toasted a bit better than other samples I've had; it was so beautifully toasted on both sides, I was tempted to ask for some butter and syrup and improvise a Middle Eastern pancake.

The kibbeh is also excellent. It's juicy and flavorful lamb with pine nuts and onions. What I particularly liked was the bulgur wheat shell was thinner than what you often get, making for a very favorable meat per kibbeh ratio. These may well be the best kibbeh I've ever had.

The gyro was huge, too big for me at one sitting. I took home about half of that one and calculated the original had about 8 ounces of the beef-lamb mixture.

I've eaten at off-hours and haven't had a chance to look over the shoulder of any other diners so haven't seen any other foods than the ones I've had. I have seen the sharwarma rotisserie in the kitchen and it looks promising.

The fries, which accompany every sandwich, have been disappointing; it's a small serving, which is okay by me, but I wish there was an alternative choice. The biggest disappointment however has been the tzatziki which is thick and creamy, almost a study in congealment, and lacking in garlicky punch and lemony zest.

Mo Abdin was a professional boxer, hence the name of the place. Virtually every available space on the wall is occupied by his boxing memorabilia including his trunks and gloves, WBC Title Belt, and dozens of pictures. The food comes out fast but it's fun taking a few minutes to check some of it out.

I'm glad to know about this place. It joins a very short list of good eateries convenient to the Medical Center.


Anonymous said...

Oh yum all that looks amazing. How much was that Gyro?

Bruce said...

According to the menu card from Mo's, $6.99 including fries and drink.