Located in the Calgary’s north eastern industrial hood, it’s definitely a sketchy excursion getting to this place at night. An eerily dark backdrop and a lack of adequate exterior lighting define this hole-in-the-wall, which is probably why it’s more popular over the lunch hour.
This place came recommended by a Pakistani friend and so we arrived for the dinner buffet (apparently a la carte is also available).
The interior is quite different from the exterior; the decor is simple with Asian tastes which is reminiscent of authentic holes-in-the-wall.
We sat down for the buffet and proceeded to grab ourselves some plates (no sign of service thus far). The plates were not clean! Some of them had black grease stains on them and most had an oily sheen to them. Be it what it was we soldiered on. The first plate consisted of – Haleem, Nihari, Chille Chicken, Naan and Fried Rice. The salads and sides were not appetizing in presentation and thus avoided.
The naan looked a tad soggy but turned out to be very tasty (extra ghee/butter always works).
Haleem, a slow cooked beef and shredded wheat delicacy, was spicy and full of texture. It didn’t go down smooth. The Nihari, another slow cooked wonder, was tender, full of flavour and was accompanied very well by the naan.
The Chille Chicken was spicy and succulent. The soft, tasty pieces went very well with the rather oily fried rice.
Having seen no service up to this point we were suddenly presented with a sizzling chicken tikka platter. Nothing was said, nothing was asked and we dug in. It was well cooked and the spices excellent but despite it being served in a sizzling platter it wasn’t hot enough.
The second plate sampled was the Biryani and Karahi Chicken. The Biryani was cold. The flavours would suggest that the biryani has a lot of potential, but being cold it wasn’t enjoyable. The Karahi chicken was splendid. The masala and tomato\onion base made the rather tender chicken excellent.
We had to go to the front counter to order our drinks. The lassi was tried and definitely made the inconvenience of lack of service worth it. Thick, sweet and just a joy in general, it quells the buds. Reminiscent of Pakistani street side lassi, it was divine.
Dessert was kheer, which cooked in condensed milk gave it a different flavour from the kheer I am used to. It wasn’t bad. There was also custard which wasn’t much of a highlight.
Al-Muneer’s managers – Larosh – would do wonders for the reputation of this place if there was even a tad bit of service. A buffet is defined by plate removal and ensuring the food is kept at appropriate temperatures at the very least. I’m not sure I’d come back regardless of the anecdotal evidence of a most amazing takeout biryani, which is probably a hit because you can heat it up at home!
Al Muneer Restaurant, 3-3601 19 St NE, Calgary, 403-590-4272, Map it.