Here are some reviews Al-Noor has received in recent years.
Where To Eat In The Real Los Angeles
Graded “A” By Pulitzer Prize Winner "Jonathan Gold"
As much as I like the more refined sort of Indian cuisine, I often find myself drawn to the glory of Pakistani cooking. Where Indian curries can be as delicate as butterfly wings, Pakistani curries practically scream with flavor, not just of chilies but big handfulls of cloves, cardamom and enough cumin to flavor your breath for days. Southern Indian cooking features rice-flour pancakes as thin and crisp as the burnt sugar on a creme bulee. Pakistani cuisine has whole-wheat Parathas so thick and saturated with butter that they probably stop bullets. The Indian diet is largely vegetarian: I sometimes get the feeling that some Pakistani would be happy if they could figure out a way to fashion rice, bread and carrots out of meat, so that they’d never have to put anything in their mouths that wasn’t made out of cow, chicken or goat.
Among the best Pakistani Muslim restaurants in town is the strictly Halal (the Islamic equivalent of Kosher) Al-Noor, a busy storefront in aLawndale strip mall, a quick five minutes south of the airport and a straight shot from the 405. Like most Islamic restaurants, Al-Noor is fairly spare, decorated chiefly with great swaths of Arabic scripts and a travel poster or two, but there are tablecloths, soft lighting and silk roses encursted with rears of plastic dew. Al-Noor is a nice place. It is a fairly rich restaurant neighborhood, across the street from Sao-Paulo-style fish restaurant located in a former hamburger stand (if you must eat moqueca in the South Bay, this is your place), a few blocks down from a pretty good teriyaki hut and a decent Madras-style Indian chicken restaurant, a five minute drive from the Peruvian restaurants of Lawndale. At noon, the crowd eating lunch can be as vaired as any in the South Bay: Pakistani businessmen, Spanish-speaking mechanics and Lassiswilling white guys in carpenter’s overalls, a tableful of chador-cloaked women nibbling on girlled Kabobs a few away from a table of fish-eating surfer dudes – all brought together by smoky, garlicky tandoor-barbequed chicken and great slabs of hot bread, a combination that seems ot override every ethnic boundary
in the world.
The Chef once at Bundoo Khan, a Pakistani restaurant in a KoreaTown mini-mall around the corner from an apartment I lived in for years, and where I probably stopped in once a week for Kabobs and Islamic “Hamburgers” before it burned down in the ‘92 riots, but the menu at Al-Noor is more classically Pakistani, a short document of stews, vegetables, and tandoor-cooked meats. The restaurant is locally famous for its version of Nehari, more or less the Pakistani national dish, an incense, mahogany concoction of Lamb shanks flavored with garlic, chilies and an immoderate amount of shredded fresh ginger, along with what seems like half the contents of a spice cabinet. Nehari can sometimes be a little thin, as genteel as country French ragout, but the Nehari here is cooked down to steaming, creamy mass with the density of a dwarf star, bubbling and glistening with red-tinted oil, a stew substantial enough to fortify three hungry men after a day of hard farm labor or a stringent religious fast. The other stews at Al-Noor are wonderful too – the brightly flavored
brains simmered with curry and Haleem, a deeply flavored beef stew thickened with grain. But what draws the crowds – which often snake out the door on busy weekends – are the tandoor-cooked meats, boneless chunks of chicken Tikka or hanks of ground beef roasted over super-hot mesquite coals, bits of shaved meat in a powerfully sour marinade, chunks of lamb Kabobs on sputtering hot steel platters with blackened onions, and fresh-baked, if lightly clumsy, garlic naan.