Al Aseel - Palestinian/Halal
I went here once before, just as it was changing ownership and name from Bird’s House. It has also been named Taste of Bethlehem.
I wanted to try the Foul Mudammas, a dish I have been sampling all over town, but they said they didn’t have any ready and it would take too long to prepare so I went for a shish kabob pita. The pita was tough but the meat was very tender. The sandwich also had cucumber and tomato and tahini but was a little disappointing, needing some spice (such as some garlicky tzatziki). My tabouleh might have been from the bottom of the bowl as it was very wet, almost soupy. I left not very impressed with my visit but willing to give it another try. Then I read the specialties here are the charcoal grilled bird dishes - quail, pigeon, cornish hen and chicken (hence, I guess, the previous name). The signature dish is supposed to be Musakhan chicken, so called Palestinian chicken, and I finally got around to going back to check it out.
I was tempted by the soup of the day - pigeon soup - but decided to stick with what had been highly recommended. The chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices including sumac, then charcoal grilled and served on a fluffy naan or lafa type bread with grilled onions and roasted pine nuts and parsley. The seasonings are subtle but very good; much to my surprise I found myself devouring a whole half bird and all the bread, which soaks up the juices from the meat and onions, then picking over the bones for all the last little bits of chicken. There wasn’t anything left on my plate but the bones and a few bits and pieces of parsley. As messy as it is, the chicken has to be picked up and eaten out of hand, like fried chicken. The bread was much better than the pita I had before.
Both times I’ve had their hot tea; it’s brewed very strong and is very minty. I recommend that and the Musakhan. I do intend to go back to try more of the fowl dishes.
There’s a menu on allmenus.com
I noticed a couple of differences. On the in-house menu there is a Jerusalem Mix sandwich instead of an Al Aseel Mix; it’s listed as chicken liver, heart and breast meat. There is also an Al Aseel Mixed Grill and a Meat Casserole listed but no explanation of what’s included.
8619 Richmond @ Dunleavy