Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick Mac update

Here's a quick mac update. After last time's failed dextrose experiement, I needed to have couple of batches to build up my confidence. On top of the humidity, I wasn't too sure if it'll turn out well or not.

So, I did one batch of chocolate and dusted it with edible gold powder. First of all, I've never had that before, ok maybe while drinking, but not to eat. Second, it was on clearance at Sur La Table, so I just decided to give it a try.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking... edible gold??? Well, this is what I found on one of the sites:

Generally speaking, there is no danger in ingesting Edible Gold. Gold is an inert metal that simply passes through the intestinal system. Edible Gold will pass out of the body after about 24 hours unchanged without causing any harm or reaction on the body
. (quoted from edible gold history)

Well, it wasn't easy to shake out the flakes, let me tell you. But there it is... it showed up on my macs. I did the 'decorating' before the sitting and the baking. So it has a chance to set into the batter. You really can't taste it, to be honest. It's a good decorating thing to do, but that's it for me.

Another batch I did was just plain jane. Simply that I'm trying to use up my Trader Joe's Almond Meal. While it's definitely a bargain, for $3.99 you get a pound; versus $6.99 at Whole Food in the bulk aisle, or $12.99 for Bob's Red Mill. The difference here is that they truly had almonds and grind it into meal including skins. So, when they bake, you see the little dots on them. Compare to the Whole Food bulk or Bob's, the cookie comes out nice and smooth because there's no skin involve. So, while it pains me to go for the more expensive ones, for the looks is kinda worth it.

What have we learn? If we're doing something dark colored like chocolate, it's ok to use the TD but for cute looks, go back to what we know.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tunnel Talk - Kokoro

In Houston, if it rains, heat, 'snow', the tunnel provides a a good refuge. There are tons of food down in the tunnel. Now, I know what you think, boring sandwiches and bland salads. They do try to have decent food seeing that this is a captive audience.

I went to Kokoro for lunch. They're really known for the only sushi place in the tunnel that has been consistent instead of just a plain California Roll. They have seaweed salad and nice sushi combo box. The other thing they are known for is their teppenyaki.

This trip I went for the beef teppenyaki. Their new thing is instead of white rice, they also allow you to pick fried rice. I never had issue w/ the white rice, mainly because I felt that it absorb the sauce very well. Fried rice, however, I'm not too interested. But, in the name of research, I have to give it a try.

Well, the thing about not going with fried rice on a normal try is because there's so many flavors going on with the fried rice mix already. So, adding more it's simply that adding more. Not necessary for the better or not, just more doesn't necessary translate to better.

This round, I'm right, unfortunately. The fried rice is really dry. No matter how much sauce they give you, which is usually one ladle full of it, and I then I usually ask for a little more. It's not enough to battle the burnt pieces of rice, which are super stiff. Not enough sauce to soften that up. The beef also was drier than normal. Not sure what's going on with that. In the past I have good result from ordering the dish. I'll probably go back and try it again, just because I am one of those captived audience, but must see who's doing the cooking.

811 Rusk St (tunnel)
Houston, TX 77002

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Benjy's Washington - Dinner

So for a work dinner that my co-worker and I were disinvited to, I exclaimed to my boss that he's still paying for our dinner. Just because he uninvited us doesn't mean that we're not going to eat on his tab. So we did.

I've been to Benjy's on Washington Ave before. The space is lovely, but doesn't feel as bright as the one in Rice Village. This is my first time to go up to the famous bar. Like the location in Rice Village, the bar is upstairs which is really the heart of the joint.

Their cocktails are great as usual, but they also have a decent wine list that worth looking over. That said, they have a great happy hour set of food to choose from. Most people I saw were picking the calamari, which we ordered too. One bite and you know why... it was not oily and it's crispy and not overly chewy.

For main course, I ordered the Ravioli which has mushroom, crab meat, cream, and shrimp. The sauce was divine, and the dough on the ravioli wasn't too over empowering or heavy. The mix inside was delicious with the sauce. You just have to taste it for yourself... it's good.
For dessert, we ordered the chocolate cake. It came with side of fresh fruit and homemade ice cream. I was really ordering for the ice cream. The cake itself is super dense and definitely rich. Having the ice cream definitely balance it off. The ice cream itself is not too sweet, so it allows the chocolate cake to be powerful with the taste buds. Otherwise, ice cream with fruit also came out great. As a matter of fact, it's the same over at the Rice Village location.

Here's the thing about this location, you are definitely at the yuppie entertainment district on Washington. So majority of the environment, decor is cater to that crowd. Even the bathroom is very chic. The Rice Village is more relax maybe because the neighbor has been comfortable w/ Benjy's being an permanent spot there, the decor is still updated and clean, but no meat market air to it. Go see it for yourself.

Benjy's on Washington
5922 Washington Ave
Houston, TX 77007
reservation is recommended for dinner

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hong Kong's Cafe

Honestly, our friends on FB knows that we go to Hong Kong's Cafe weekly. Sometimes more than just once a week. We've gotten better lately since David is eating more Paleo, but I still go there just for a little bit of home.

I rarely go there for any other meal but breakfast. For breakfast they have a meal deal type thing, $5.95, you get eggs, slice of ham/sausage/spam, noodle soup, and a drink. That's a pretty decent deal for breakfast. They only serve it from 10a thru 11:30a, and on weekend, it's guaranteed to be packed. So set your alarm.

This round, I went there to meet up w/ some friends. We all ordered different things, and it's a little piece of Hong Kong. I had the beef fried noodles. Ironically, different times I order this, I get different results. Some days basically can be oil-ier than other days. Guess that depends on who is cooking on the back.

My interest for going there is really for the drinks. It's hard to find a good Yin Yeung, which is a mix of coffee and milk tea HK style. The other would be cold lemon tea, they have the right portion of the sugar and tea. Oh the other thing would be the red bean with shaved ice, I can't explain what's inside, but it's a good childhood reminiscing thing.

Anyway, it was good bit of taste home that we don't get very often.

Hong Kong's Cafe
*cash only*
9108 Bellaire Blvd
Ste A

Houston, TX 77036
(713) 772-9633

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cafe 101 - Dinner

It seems like we come here once a week. Last time we had a dinner set, this time just a quick bite. Since they're short handed recently, whatever you can order in a quick manner is a win for me.

If you ever get a chance to go, you'll notice the drink menu is thicker than the food menu. Their smoothie is super fresh and there are a few drinks that are made with powder, but it was blended well. So far I've tried the Pink Lady, Iced Peach Green Tea, Watermelon smoothie, Papaya Milk. All of them are worth trying.

For this visit, I ordered an Unaju. I didn't realized that for a full meal like that it didn't come with the little side dish plate. It literally was just rice, eel, and yellow leek typed veggie. You know, my thing is really to have the unagi sauce.... that sweet sauce is my kryptonite.

Food is still great, service is slow because they're severely short handed and of course people are showing up in drones, so be patience when you go.

Cafe 101
9889 Bellaire Blvd, #101
Houston, TX 77036

Friday, July 22, 2011

Macaron w/ Dextrose

You know, there's not a week that goes by I don't post something about macaron. Partly is because there's so much variations you can go with this. Partly is because this finicky cookie does present a good challenge.

First of all, we made 6 batches total, 5 of which failed, but helped us debunked some myths. Second, the reason for using dextrose as opposed to sugar is because David is trying a new diet to eliminate fructose. I didn't read up on it, so please post all questions to David not me. I was only trying to make the cookies w/ a new ingredient.

Myths dunked:
After reading Brave Tart's post about Macaron Myths, I have to try a couple of them out. First of all, is that you don't need to aged you eggs nights in advance. I did out of practice and advice from many. But what I took from this is: separate your eggs while it's cold. But set them aside until it's room temperature because otherwise your meringue will fight you. And yes, still can't whip if it's not cool. So, she's right, you don't have to aged it over 3-5 days. You can set it aside for a couple of hours and it'll be ready.

The other myth that she helped debunked, you don't need to babysit your sugar while you meringue. That's true too. I dumped it all into the egg white while it is foamy and white. It whipped up a stiff peak like magic. I think the idea of putting sugar in little at a time is more so that it won't spatter all around and not get into the egg whites itself. Otherwise, there's not real reason for that.

Now, back to the experiments (the failed ones). Using Dextrose does have its fun, you do whip up egg whites quite quickly. What would normally take 5-7 minutes to whip up, dextrose whip up egg whites in 4 minutes or less. It made whipping stiff peak super fun and quick.

Sadly, because chemically, it is missing fructose, whenever you bake it, it became super liquid-y when you bake. (Failed #1) I also tried substitute it as icing sugar and put it into the mix. That's worse, because now it's doubly the liquid. (Failed #2) So we read somewhere that regular dextrose is about 1.5 times normal sugar, so we doubled both meringue and dried flour mix. (Failed #3 & 4) . I then started to put regular sugar back to the flour mix and keep the dextrose with the meringue. While that came out the best, not like normal, it tasted the best versus the rest tasted sticky and not come out at all. They normally just run into each other.

Just to redeem myself, I made a normal batch just to make myself feel better.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tiny No.5 - Dinner

When I saw from several website that Tiny's No.5 is opened, I was highly curious. I like Tiny Boxwood's well enough, and was sure that they got the winning formula.

Located in downtown West University, it is truly a hidden gem unless you're in the know. I happened to know because from my visit Tiny's original location, they mentioned that this will be open and soon. But seriously, there are no signs, no pointers, nada. We truly sniffed our way there.
The cool thing about this location is that if you biked or walked it there, they have an electric cart, seat up to 5 plus the driver that will drive you back. Totally eco-friendly.

Ok, here's what I like: food consistency is still up to standard. The pizza I got was awesome, it's strawberry, goat cheese, and prosciutto. The service is still great. The space is great and chic.
Here's what I don't like: the bar is now more open, which allows for people to congregates right behind you if you're eating at the bar. That's annoying when you're enjoying your food at the bar and people started to order things and reach right over you. Also annoying that their conversations is louder than yours because the place is echo-y, you hear everything in surround sound.

The other thing that I'm iffy on is their staff. Granted, they've only opened for 3 weeks, and kinks aren't exactly worked out. I sure hope that they got their bartenders trained on the awesome coffee drinks. Those are pretty standard drinks (lattes, mochas) but when you have to ask me how to make it (and I actually know how), I think that's just odd.

I will definitely try back in a few weeks. And probably will take advantage of the eco-car, they drive within a mile distance. It sure is close to the other location, but if you picked the right time to go, it'll promised to be good. For now, they are only serving dinner from 5-9p, they're supposed to start serving lunch in August, can't wait for that!

Tiny's No.5
3636 Rice Blvd.
Houston, TX 77005

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hearsay Gastropub

So, one Saturday I was going to take Mom to the new sushi place downtown. We found a parking spot, went thru much trouble to pay the meter, the connection was dial-up speed slow. I just wanted to pay the meter for crying out loud. Anyway, after all that drama found out that the place was mis-advertising. It said on its website as well as the door that they're open at 11am, when in fact they're not open on Saturdays at all.

At the desperation for finding an alternative, we walked around the corner across from Icon. And there's Hearsay Gastropub. Lifesaver that they were open!
I love the space there, it's essentially 3 stories opened up. And you feel all the sky light during the day and all the neat mirrors on the wall otherwise. They're known for their gourmet hot dog. While I ordered the brisket sandwich this time. Let me tell you, it is finger-licking good. The meat was a tad dry, but the sauce more than made up for it. Not to mention that they come with the parmesan fries. I can just sit there and eat that the entire meal.
The other thing I like about this place is their mac and 4 cheese. It's just cheesy and goodness. I would say they can add a little bacon bits into the mix and make it even more yummy, but I digress.

If you ever get a chance to go, they also have a very nice drink menu, their champagne concoction is worth trying. Grab a few friends and try them out. Since during the day there's not alot of downtown dwellers, it's perfect for birthday lunches or girlfriend brunches. They have a space on their upstairs that is very cool and chic.

Hearsay Gastropub
218 Travis Street
Houston, TX 77002

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hungry's - Dinner

Ended up having a last minute dinner with a friend. Since she's never been to Hungry's and was looking for a good spot to bring her parents. Thought she should definitely check out this place.

Mind you, back in the olden days, it was a little walk up joint with small seating area, and astroturf as a patio. Now, this place is not only upscale, the patio can be air-conditioned or heated, dependent on the weather outside.
I ordered the Honey Glazed Salmon (first photo), my friend ordered the Poblano Chicken. Sadly, my salmon is once again dried, like last time. The weird part is that the also list the Honey Glazed Salmon on their special, but charge $1 more. When I asked the waiter what's the difference, he said one came with green beans and the other didn't. That's strange.
What else is strange too was when my friend was asking how their carrot cake was. She wanted to know if the carrot cake is dry or not. The waiter was like yep, it's dry. We looked at each other in bewilderment. Don't they usually want to sell the product and not poo-poo on it?

Turns out, he was telling the truth. I ordered the baklava, not only was the phyllo shell not fluffy or crunchy. They had refrigerated it and the dough absorbed the honey, and it became soaky. It was weird.

Not sure if it's a summer thing or what, but I've had much better experience w/ their food before. To say that I'm disappointed is understatement, but hope that they'll do better and soon!

2356 Rice Blvd
Houston, TX

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tiny Boxwood's - Dinner

Tiny Boxwood is one of those spots where it's hidden but it's not. People know it's there and if you want to be cool and hip like the shi-shi crowd, good luck getting in. The key is that you go before the true dinner crowd, which is before 7pm.

If you don't know where it is located, that's what I meant by it is hidden but it's not. It's on Alabama and Saint Street which is near Edloe. It is hidden inside Thompson & Hanson. It slowly became the hidden spot for the River Oaks young crowd.

Their menu is in always rotation, but there are things that they do well and keep. Their picnic cheese plate has been there and it's always great picks. I ended up with the Black & Blue (see above) which was Buffalo Filet and Blue Cheese Risotto.

The meat was a tad dry, but the blue cheese risotto played up the taste. I can totally eat the entire plate of risotto all by itself. I think some people might find that pungent but it's just perfect and it's a perfect match with the filet.
The other thing they're good at is their drinks. Whether it's a summer sangria or a nice cup of coffee after dinner. The guys here got it down and perfected it well. Stop in and ask them to make anything, they still make it well. I ended up with a caramel latte (above) and it was just a perfect balance from all taste point of view.

Tiny Boxwood's
3614 West Alabama
Houston, Texas 77027

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sweet - pt 2

Well, by accident (seriously and honestly), our friends went to City Centre for dinner and called us to go out there. We had already sat down elsewhere, but was going to meet up just to hang out.

Their first review of Sweet wasn't very pleasant. Cupcake seemed fine, but the macarons were dry. I had it the day before this 2nd visit, and the cookie were moist but the jam filling had the two cookies moving around.

Here's the thing: it said to me that either A, they baked the cookies, put it together and immediate put it out there in the counter for sale; or B, the Texas heat is so hot that it warms up their store (even though they are not facing West) and heat up the baked goods; or C, the cookies been sitting in the non-refrigerated shelf all day and beginning to melt the fillings.
Honestly, a good macaron, jam filling or not, should still be together when the consumer is ready to enjoy it. If you were to make them at home, bake it, put it together, and put it in the fridge for at least couple of hours. So the filling has time to congeal with the cookies. Since the cookies are meringe, they're not absolvant like bread to soak up the filling. So, you want the filling to solidify and stand on its own.

Some people said that you should let it refridgerate for 24 hrs, I can't wait that long. But, if you can, more power to you. The other thing is that you need to also let it cool down before enjoying. Otherwise, the shell is too cold and will crumble.

Never have you got so many rules just for a cookie, huh?

801 Town and Country Rd,
Ste A120
Houston, TX 77024
713-64-Sweet (79338)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweet - Pt 1

When my friend Juliana posted these picture of this cute little bakery shop, I was highly curious. What? There's a place call Sweet that sell sweets? You've got to be crazy for not going to check it out. Of course, what lured me was that she posted some macaron photos... alright, I'm sold.
Located in the trendy City Centre complex, the fun thing about this place is that they are one of those live and shop type of complex. Just like the Domain in Austin, or Atlantic Station in Atlanta. The goal is to have you live and play in the same place. Their apartment looks spiffy, but that's also because the newness hasn't worn off yet. They have multitude of eateries around the complex. Anything from American Sports Bar, to Casual European. Easy grab a bite to fancy steak house. Fitting for a great variety of tastes.

In that sense, living in a multi-purpose complex, having coffee is a very important point. While they do not have a Starbucks on site, but there is one less than 3 blocks away, in the Town & Country complex. In this case, having Sweet is perfect. They have different kinds of coffee and tea, and not to mention cupcakes & macarons.

They charge $1.50 per macaron. They offer a few standard flavor, i.e. chocolate, coffee, vanilla, pistachio, raspberry (the one above). They also have blueberry lemonade (the one below), and whatever flavor they choose to try-out that day.
The thing about their macaron is this: almost all of the fruit flavors are made with jam filling. I hate to be snobby about this, but that's seems to be a cheater way out. Unless they made their own jam, it's not very impressive to make the cookies en masse and putting jam in between. Now, as you guys know I make my own macaron with various success to non-success, the reason why I'm poo-pooing the mass production is that they are not as difficult as making say 30. They have macaron mix by the 50lbs, eggwhites sold in Xlbs at a time. So, for a coffee place to make it w/ the capability, equipment, the level of ingredients they get is not something that little o' me have access to. I'm not dismissing that it didn't take skills, I'm just saying it's more assessible to them than to me, say.

Their cookie is moist, I'm not denying that. I still have a beef about the filling. The one thing I didn't like, is that they served it warm, which is one of the reasons why the shell is moist. But, sitting in the case in this little shop in this Texas heat, you can tell your jam filling is moving, and not stuck. That's because they should've put it in a refrigerated case. Or, put a few for display and go to the back and grab it. Poor little cookies.

Friend them on FB, they do mention what new flavor they're trying out. Also sometimes, they will post what discount they're offering.

801 Town and Country Rd,
Ste A120
Houston, TX 77024
713-64-Sweet (79338)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cafe 101 - Dinner

Here's something funny to share, people I know do ask if we go to these places I post. Yes, we're not crazy, we do go to these places. Not all at the same week, some are old pictures that I haven't gotten around to posting, so while we do eat out quite a bit; it's not as out of hand as these posts made us out to be. I do know thru the check-ins on FB, and these posts, many people have asked if we ever cook. Actually, we do. We go to Whole Foods quite a bit, and not from the prepared food sections. David has became quite a cook, and I am really a baker. I won't starve on any given day, there's just going to be a cookie nearby, that's all.

Anyway, back to focusing on this entry: yes, we went back to Cafe 101. Last time, we were there for lunch, I had ordered a dish and it came w/ a bowl of rice. Their dinner dishes comes with more stuff. Obviously, you see my main dish, curry squid rice. Before you go: ew, it's actually pretty dang good. The curry is done in Japanese style, which is much smoother than the English style, and not as edgy or spicy as the original Indian style.

Aside from the bowl of rice already on the dish, they also give you sides. The small dish comes with some pickled vegetables (sometimes kimchi), an eggroll, little bit of diced potatoes. For dessert, they gave you a small dish of taro tapioca. It's a very popular dessert in Asia. My personal favorite, which no one in Houston offers is honeydew flavor tapioca with little ball of fruit inside, served cold! Yum!

The other thing I ordered (not in picture) is the peached flavored green tea. It was served in a cognac glass, and it's a big bowl of peachy goodness.

Cafe 101
9889 Bellaire Blvd
#101Houston, TX 77036

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Epicure Cafe

Epicure Cafe has been a great company to the well known River Oaks Theatre in the Shepherd & West Gray corner for as long as I've lived in Houston. I've always enjoyed the true European way the pastries were made. Nothing fake, no extreme cream cheese buttercream, nice old fashion, traditional pastries as God had intended with real ingredients.

Yes, you ask me about pastries, I'll put Epicure & Andre's up there for comparison. But they also serve other stuff too. We used to go there for dinner, and what a great meal. They have curry, meatloaf and variety of pastas and soups. For lunch, they're well known for their half and half's.

The Half and Half consisted of combos of: half soup, half pasta, half sandwich, half quiche, half salad. The combo of all that is almost endless. This visit, I got a half quiche lorraine and half ceaser salad.

I liked their quiche which is nice and oven warmed, you can tell just because the crust of the quiche is still crispy. The ceasar is freshly tossed, no complain there. The biggest draw to that place is their strawberry lemonade. They put real fruit in there, and while it does have a tangy zest, it's also sweet. If you only get a cookie, you should get a strawberry lemonade for a hot summer day like days we've had in Houston. (they have different flavors gelato too!)

The owners, Amir and Khan Esmailkhanloo has kept things constant such as flavor, style, and taste of the food. Yet they still improve upon the business, such as space, offerings, and rotating art work in the cafe. I do know one of the brothers are pretty active in the art circle, I've seen him at different art shows on different occasions. They have live music and Salsa or Tango dancing on occasions in the Cafe.

Epicure Café
2005C W. Gray
Houston, TX 77019
T: (713) 520-6174

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grand Lux Cafe

One of our old haunts is the Grand Lux Cafe. Aside from the fact that we are big fans of Cheesecake Factory and know that Grand Lux will deliver one of the best. Their food is actually good on their own merit.

As a general rule, anything you order here at Grand Lux (or Cheesecake Factory for that matter), you should do the cut it in half and take it home. First of all, there is alot of food on that plate. Second, the food is also super rich. If you are that hungry, and finished the plate, I hope it's because either you didn't have a meal or two before or will not have a meal or two after. That or you're storing up for Winter.

Anyway, I got the Chicken Madeira, just because I love the sauce in general. Of course, I'm not going to lie, it does look greasy, but once you tasted it, you will forget about that fact very quickly. I'm not sure if it's part of the sauce or part of the cheese, or part of the asparagus, it's good... and there's no words to describe it.

Since David is doing this low carb, paleo, gluten free diet, sweet potato is the latest rage. I don't mind it, personally, I prefer sweet potato (and marshmallow) over regular any day. That is a substitute, so check and see if there's an upcharge before doing that. It proofed to be a great ticket. I will say that you do get full really quickly with the carb, the cheese, the meat, and the sauce. See, that's why I said to cut it in half and take it home for later.

Another recommendation that not alot of people order, either because it's buried in the menu, or they just didn't think much of it; is the fizzy drinks. They're non-alcoholic drinks that Grand Lux offers. Aside from strawberry lemonade, they also has a very good Citrus Flip or a Berry Fizz. Both are blend of fruits, citrus or berry respectively, with a splash of Sprite. It's like a littel fruit cocktail that doesn't make you drunk. They do have the non-fizz versions of these drinks too.

I will have to mention dessert here, even though we didn't order any this round. Our favorite is the Creme Brulee' duo, it's a vanilla and chocolate brulee. Again, they did a great job in taste, but also very rich in its own right. Or, my personal favorite is the rustic apple pie, it does take 30 mins to make, so order it when you order your entree.

Overall, there's very little that ever goes wrong there, in the past, food was never the problem. There has been issue w/ servers, not because of their service, but stretched too thin and neglect other tables. But both servers and management quickly attend to the issue and resolve it immediately. That makes me want to return just to give them another chance.

Grand Lux Cafe
Centre at Post Oak
5000 Westheimer Road,
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 626-1700

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sushi Choo Choo

Finally, Houston (or it's metroplex) is cool enough to have the conveyor belt sushi (回転寿司, kaiten-zushi). This concept is not new, it's so not new that it's been around for more than 10 years.

I first heard about it from my mom who had it in Hong Kong. I didn't personally had a try until 2003 in Pasadena, CA. I've heard of it, and know how it works, but never experienced it. It's just fun to see your food going around.
If you don't know how this work, it goes like this: you get seated in a sushi bar type seating. There's a thin little conveyor belt going around and carrying food. You grab whatever you like, and at the end of the meal, the server tally up the colored plates, which associate to different pricing, and that's how you pay your bill.

We heard about Sushi Choo Choo from a friend who went. This is the 2nd conveyor sushi place that I've heard of in Houston, the first one was Sushi Sara (which I can't find a website for). I'm kinda sad to know that after this concept has been around for 10 years, it finally made it to the 4th largest city in the country to have it. For crying out loud, Dallas had it before we did. Mind you, there isn't one inside the loop, where the yuppies would totally embrace this concept.
Speaking of concept, I must say, this isn't a traditional set up. The traditional set up is really have an island where the conveyor belt goes in circle, and the sushi chef make the sushi in the center of the island, and customers sitting around can watch them make sushi, enjoy the freshly made product and place order right there.

This place has a U-shaped conveyor belt, and I understand this place has space and they can take up as much space as they like. However, they set their kitchen to the back, as an open kitchen, and has a normal sushi bar set up (to one side), and the little opening is where they load up the plates. That takes away part of the fun. You can still order any specialty items, but it's with your server as opposed to your sushi chef.

This place also try to please too many people at the same time. They have Teppanyaki, as well as skewers with lamb meat, as well as sushi. And the sushi isn't the best thing ever. Now, given that this is in Jersey Village, the population big on sushi is not great, which also explains why on the conveyor belt next to your sushi, you see cheese sticks. BUT! It's all over the place. I would say I'm going there for the novelty and that's it. There's better sushi places out there.

In Japan, we went to couple of places like that, and it's pretty much a self-served environment. You have your cups, tea powder, hot water, chopsticks, wasabi, ginger, all within your reach. The server is really there to keep you honest. The ones in LA, does a little bit more serving, but still focus on serving good sushi. Aside from the novelty factor, I'm not too sure what else this place has to offer.

Sushi Choo Choo
(Jersey Village area)
12149 FM 1960 Rd W,
Houston, TX
(281) 955-2888

Thursday, July 7, 2011


One of my favorite places in the Village, is Hungry's. Mind you, when I first moved here, it was a dinky little walk up place, and it has a patio all the way around. They had those fake astro turf as their carpet. Worn out, and they have lawn chairs and fold out chairs with these wobbly tables.

Fast forward over time, they done up the place, changed up the decor, still has a bar, shaped like the old one where you walk up and place your order. Except now it divde the guests from the kitchen. The place is totally up-marketed and the food grew up too.

It used to be known for gyros and some pastas, now, the menu had expanded to more healthy choices and cater to more taste buds. One item I'm still mad that they took off the menu, is the Mediterranean Salad, it's really nothing more than gyro meat on top of a bed of lettuce, but it's the most full filling salad, I've ever had, and the dressing, ooh the dressing. *drool*

This visit, I ordered my usual Raspberry Lemonade, not as good as the ones at Epicure Cafe, but it is refreshing in a hot summer day. I got the Mediterranean Salmon, I changed the sides to sweet potato and grilled veggies. It sounded mega healthy, I can assured you that it's not. Between the sugar drink and the oil, urm... yeah.

I will say that I find it weird that the special of Sizzling Ginger Honey Salmon is somehow $1 more than the regular Ginger Honey Glazed Salmon. I will say that I don't normally get sick from eating there. I did this time, I'm not sure if it's me or the salmon, and maybe this is a fluke, I did get sick this time. Doesn't necessary deter me from returning.

Hungry's Cafe (2 locations)
2356 Rice Boulevard
Houston, TX 77005
Get Directions
(713) 523-8652

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Since this is a short week, we'll do the short week thing too... :P

Last night, we invited some friends to go to Cova (Washington) with us. I got a Groupon that's about to be expired, might as well get drunk w/ good company.

They do have a very open typed decor due to the high ceiling, and brilliant that they are, the sun doesn't touch any part of the restaurant until after 6:30p and there's enough shade at the front door to devoid any sunlight to the wine bottles. After a glass of wine, some good tasting cheese, we all liked the coffee lavender cheddar, it was time to order some food.

I ordered the petit osso busco, the risotto was a tad drier than I like. The braised lamb looked good, but when mixed in with the mushroom typed thing was good. It does fall off the bone, but it wasn't as full of flavor as it looked.
On another occasion, we went to Cova (Kirby), which is tiny by comparison, not because the square footage was small, just how the place was laid out doesn't give you that open feeling as the Washington location does. They do have a wine room in the back and seemingly alot more wine for sell, but not alot in terms of seating.

The food also seems limited than before. I remembered the first time I went there, there was a wide arrange of food to go with the wine. Seems like they trimmed down quite a bit.

I had the house cured salmon. The cured salmon and capers went very well together. The creme fraiche, not so much. I'm sure under some culinary something or another, those flavor goes together, but it just didn't for me or my palette.

I went ahead and ordered a side of Goat Cheese Mash(ed potato). The lovely thing about the mash is that it's not too over-empowered by the goat cheese. It's ever so subtle and you can't really tell it's there, but you can definitely taste a hint. I love that.

Overall, I would say that their food wasn't as good as I remembered it. They used to have a better menu to go with the wine they have to offer. All of their server are friendly, and I can definitely appreciate that.

Sign up for their newsletter, they have specials, classes, and wine dinner announced thru that venue. Tuesday night is their Surf & Turf Night, $17.99 for a 10oz steak, diced potatoes, doused with olive oil. Unfortunately, it came with 2 little shrimp... I guess that's the surf part.

Cova Wine

600 Kirby Drive
Houston, Texas 77005
Phone 713-838-0700

5555 Washington Avenue
Houston, Texas 77007
Phone 713-868-3366

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Linky link

We, surprisingly, didn't get too much eating out for you to review... BUT! Several friends went blueberry picking over the weekend and here's a few links, to inspire then to use up the blueberries, and hopefully that inspire you too:

To help get rid of bluebuerries that you picked, here's a recipe for blueberry mojitos.

To get rid of more blueberries, try this trifle recipe. Looks good and I'm sure it tastes good too.

Yummy blueberry scones w/ lemon glaze.

This one has nothing to do w/ blueberries, but just wrong in many ways.

Friday, July 1, 2011


On Sundays, we are usually around Fondren part of town. So, in a hurry, we decided to grab a quick bite at Landry's Seafood.

I know there's alot of feelings about them. Some people compare them to the evil empire, I just think they are a long links of restaurants. To me, they are no different than Pappas, or Carrabas type chain. I do think it's strange for a chain to buy a Las Vegas hotel and try to play the odds against Steve Wynn, but I digress.

If you're not familiar, every summer, Landry's does a Chef Signature Series where every Tuesday it features one of their chefs in one of their upscale restaurants for a 4-5 course prix fixe menu that is not the usual menu items. There are a set ticket price and seating is limited, but it's worth trying out different off-menu items. Again I digress.

Quick bite at Landry's, I got a lobster bisque and some asparagus on the side. Let's just say the experience was so-so. Since we were in a hurry, we opt-ed to sit at the bar. Now, if you're their Signature Member, you can get reserved seating (and get points for your visit).

Back to the food, the soup was heavier than I'm used to, you can taste the little chunks of the lobster, not as easily identified as the lobster bisque at Pappadeux. But over all it's not bad. The asparagus however, I can't speak much about that. It just looked over steamed, and when you tried to cut it up it's all stringy. I probably won't recommend the side of asparagus to anyone, maybe mixed veggies next time.

Landry's Seafood
8816 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77063
Phone: (713) 975-7873