Before I start, you should know that the following write-up is more of a pleading. Al Noor is a Middle Eastern restaurant located on Washtenaw in Ypsilanti, MI that has made a closed down Taco Bell building its home. The arched windows in front completely give this away. Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor are blessed with great Middle Eastern food, ranging from a handful of Middle Eastern groceries to a variety of Middle Eastern restaurants. Al Noor isn’t my favorite- that distinction goes to Jerusalem Garden in Ann Arbor. However, Al Noor does make perfectly respectable Middle Eastern food at good prices. The reason I write this is not to compliment Al Noor on its food, although I will do that. This also is not intended to completely bash the restaurant, which I will also do. I simply want to raise awareness about a good restaurant that will be closed if something isn’t done about the customer service.
Al Noor offers some of the most hilariously bad service I have ever been a witness to. Whoever is responsible for running this business is either completely incompetent or has no idea what is going on in the day to day operation. It surprised me even more when I found out that Al Noor had been purchased by someone three years ago who promised renovations to the business. This new owner has either since died, or moved out of the country and left the restaurant to his 11 year old son. The service is that bad.
I often go in to find random friends of the cashier hanging out in the booths. This wouldn’t bother me, but they often stare as you as you consume your food. They are either very interested in my food, or thinking about adding me to the “Missed Connections” portion of Craigslist. It creeps me out every time I go in.
Another major party foul is that every time I have asked for no tomatoes on my chicken shawarma, there are indeed tomatoes when I bite into it. There aren’t many things that piss me off, but when I ask someone to subtract tomatoes from my food and they do not, it sure does get my blood boiling. I am a firm believer that when one a tomato touches something, its residue has destroyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I love tomatoes, but not on certain foods.
I walked in today to order my usual, a chicken shawarma and a bowl of crushed lentil soup. I have resorted to telling the cashier that I am deathly allergic to tomatoes. This gets me my shawarma without the little red guys about 40% of the time. When I first walked in, there were no employees in sight. I stood there for about five minutes, and seriously considered stealing a tub of garlic sauce and hummus from the back. Before I could work up the courage, I saw a car pull up. Damn, another customer had foiled my great idea. A man got out of the car, walked in the door, stepped behind the counter, and asked me what I wanted to eat. Yes, this restaurant had been unoccupied with the doors unlocked for god knows who long. I gave him my order, and he began to fumble around the kitchen. I noticed that the soup warmer was sitting open, which alarmed me a little bit. I decided to take a seat because of the usual long wait time. I was on my Blackberry when I heard the beep of a microwave. I suddenly realized that the soup warmer was not working, and the soup was simply sitting in an uncovered container. I had my food about five minutes after I ordered it , which was a new Al Noor record. Congratulations, guys. Upon ringing me up, I had to point to the cashier where the two items I ordered were on the menu so he could find the prices. He then proceeded to add them up on a calculator and forget to include the sales tax. Whoops! $6.50 for soup an sandwich, not bad. When I got to work, I opened up my shawarma to find NO TOMATOES! That certainly meant that it was going to be a good day. I took my first bite, and realized that the sandwich was ice cold. I then put it together. We had a widespread power outage last night, and Al Noor also lost theirs. Either they were serving food from last night, and/or they simply had not gotten their power working yet and decided to open their doors regardless. I decided to eat the sandwich (i’ll take my chances, more on that later), but the soup went into the trash.
Moving past the sometimes comedic bad service, unlike a number of other local places that have similar menus, the food here is not just inexpensive, but very unique to this particular restaurant. The garlic sauce is amazingly potent, with the kind of breath-destroying power that would be a detriment if it wasn’t so delicious. You could seriously put this stuff on watermelon and it could probably be good. The chicken and beef wraps (both tawook and shwarma) are fantastic, almost at Jeresulum Garden level. The hummus is some of the best I have ever had. Do not skip the hummus. Yes, you may be trying to cut back and save a few calories, but Al Noor’s hummus is well worth the indulgence. When you’re talking hummus, some places go heavy on the garlic, some heavy on the tahini. Al Noor actually goes kind of heavy on the lemon, but not in a bad way. It’s a little unusual to get a hummus this creamy and lemony, but It comes out extremely delicious and arrives at your table drizzled with olive oil and dotted with olives. A basket overflowing with packages of pita triangles accompanies it.
The reason I write this is because of that delicious food that you will eventually receive after a long wait and more than likely given something you did not order. Their terrible service is almost completely excused by it, but it seems as though their customers have almost given up on them. The last four or five times I have visited, I have been the only one there for spans of 20-25 minutes. With the heavy competition in the area, there’s no doubt that Al Noor will be forced to close their doors if some attention is not paid to customer service. I always want to find a way to contact the owner, but no website or contact information exists. I will have to stock up on their garlic sauce just in case this day does come, and I am forced to live without it.
If you have some time, it is almost entertaining to see how incompetent the people are who are running the restaurant. It is sad in a way, but I feel as though the food deserves some sort of support.