Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Convey Sushi

Back in July, I reported about the conveyor belt sushi finally hitting Houston. Here's another one, except this is inside the Loop! So excited!

This is Convey Sushi, they are located at the corner of Congress & Milam. You can park at Kim Son's garage and walk over. Of course, street parking, if it's available is convenient as well. After 6p you can park around Market Square.

This is again, not a new concept. And again, I'm not happy that if this is indeed opened by Japanese owners that they don't honor the real conveyor belt concept, where you have the chef in the middle and you are in a circle. There are many places in LA that done that concept very well.

This is an L shaped bar, and I understand they can seat more people, but they also have ample table seating too. No one will lose out on the experience.
The trick here is to go during their 'prime time', which also means that you will have to wait a bit. But that's where they'll roll out more variety of dishes and more of each thing. Should you not see what you want, like we did because we went on the tail end of lunch hour, you can place an order. Just reach over the rolling sushi belt and grab a menu and pencil, write in what you want and the seat number you are at. What will happen is that they'll make it in the back, and deliver it via the belt. So, pay attention to dishes with numbers on it, and make sure it's yours.

Again, they tally up with the color plates and how many you've eaten. Prices is a bit higher than the suburbs, which is to be expected since downtown rent is higher. The food itself is ok. By comparison to sushi places across town, this is on the bottom tier. The fish was so-so the rice were dry, by the time you pick it up and try to dip it in the soy sauce, it's already fell apart. But, since downtown doesn't have any decent sushi place since Miyako pulled out years ago, this is what you're going to get. Their menu does have a great range, they have a lot of neat rolls and appetizers, as well as bentos and udons. So, even if the conveyor belt thing is not your type of thing, you'll still have plenty to choose from.

The service was good, the guy that served us was nice and pointed us to the right direction when we looked lost. They also have happy hour from 4-7pm. Their website and door stated that they're open at 11am on Saturday, we found that to be false. We stopped by because of those advertisement, but I think they really are open for dinner. Will have to go back and confirm. But if you are making a trip downtown for sushi to experience this, call ahead, so you won't pay for parking and then found out they were closed, which was what happened to me.

Convey Sushi
801 Congress
Houston, TX 77002

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Little Bigs

The other day just needed something quick and easygoing. Drove myself over to Little Bigs. This is the brain child of the REEF team of Bryan Caswell and Bill Floyd. If you're thinking to yourself that the name Bryan Caswell sounded familiar, that's because he was on The Next Iron Chef. While he didn't make it to the final round, he has been approach to do other TV work. Not to mention, he needs to cook for us too, hee hee.

Anyway, rumor has it that people would belly up to Reef's bar and order these little sliders, so much so that the team at REEF decided to take over the old Ming's Garden on Montrose and sell nothing but Sliders. Don't mark me on that story, but tell you what I appreicate the sliders.

They have 4 kinds: 3oz beef patty, breaded chicken (which has a little kick to it), pulled pork, and black beans. You can order a set of 3 or get one at a time. What makes them special besides the meat is done well is their buns. They are made daily and I swear someone told me it's made with buttermilk, not sure if that's true or not.

They also offer salad too, but you're not going there for salad. They also have what they called the 4 minutes fries, it's nice and crispy. Don't forget a milkshake, they have kids and grown up version, and they do serve wine. Or if you're me, get an Arnold Palmer with their fresh lemonade, can't lose on that one. When the weather gets better, definitely sit outside, there's tons of room, and there are big screen TV to accommodate those sports fans too.

Little Bigs
2703 Montrose Blvd @Westheimer
They do cater, we've had them at parties many times, always a hit!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Well, we've been going to Osaka so much that I always forget to document it. But, they are owned by the same owners as Toyama, so in the same fashion, they love to give you freebies.

After you order, they like to give you a complementary something. Lately at Osaka is the tempura fried bell pepper with seafood medley on top. It's not healthy for you, but between the fried stuff and the sweet eel sauce, I'm addicted.

We usually each order a roll and split one and that's plenty. As you know, you're basically filling up with rice. David's standard roll is Philadelphia and I change my mind all the time. For him, the salmon portion for the roll is very generous at Osaka compare to alot of the places.

Our newest favorite there is the Negi Beef Roll, it's pretty awesome. It has thinly layered beef in the center and some on top. All of them are grilled and marinated lightly. Once they roll it into sushi, they top it off with another sauce, not quite like the ponzu sauce, it's a bit thicker in consistency, and it's also not quite like the eel sauce, though it is sweet, but it definitely add some oomph with some spice sprinkled on top. It was awesome. Highly recommend it.

Of course, they do regular sushi too. The slices are huge, and they do give you the fare amount to sushi porportion, but they also understand that you dont' want a mouth full of rice. So it's not all rice and not enough fish. Everytime I go there, their fish has been fresh. I'm sure having 3 locations in town it's easier to get fresh ingrident to each other too.

Here's the thing, if you're feeling like a little fancy, I recommend you go to the Osaka location on Montrose. The decor and the setting is much more traditional to a sit down restaurant. Comparatively, if you're in shorts and t-shirt, go to the Bellaire location. If you want something in the middle, go to Toyama.

All locations give you a free appetizer and at the end when you pay the bill, they offer you free ice cream. They come in flavors of green tea, red bean, ginger, or plum. All japanese flavors... don't worry, it's a small scoop. But the Toyama location, they do try to give you a little more by adding a little bit of fried banana to go with your ice cream too.

Osaka Japanese Restaurant
4001 Bellaire Blvd @ Stella Link
(713) 838-9812


515 Westheimer Rd. by Montrose
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 533-9098

They both do to-go order, but don't think they'd offer the freebies in those cases.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Swirl Macarons

Hello! Macaron Friday is back!!!! Today, I'm showing off (sort of), my psuedo-success on swirl macs!
I came across this post on Macaron Fetish. Can I tell you how much I love this lady. She's freggin' awesome and ingenius, and definitely generous to show her tricks to the world. She found a way to make swirl colored macs. Basically, you separate your macaronage batter and color accordingly. Then, in your piping bag, you layer one spoon of color A with one spoon of color B, and A,B,A,B and so on.
Granted, in my case, color A (pink) seems to be dominated. I think I had 2 scoop of Pink in tehre more than green. But the hint of green in the swirl was kinda cool too. The other thing I need to mention is that the pink batter is filled with a normal batch of almond meal, while the green batch is filled with pistachio meal. Both baked fine and came out wonderfully. Talk about the two being harmonious. I just love them!

Oh the filling, I used the left over dark chocolate rose ganache to balance out the nutty taste. Go try it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Frank's Chop House - small bites

There are days that David wanted a big o' steak and all I can fit is a salad. Maybe that needed to happen more often. Last time, I had a full-full meal. This time is just a light fare for me.

I order their French Onion soup, which apparently doesn't come around often, but amongst the favorite with regulars. It' a tad sweet, which I didn't expect from a normal French Onion soup palette. While you do get your layer of cheese on top, you get your bread right underneath it. So you know, it' nice and soaked with the soup flavor. I just like my French Onion super cheesy, yum!

For the salad, I ordered the Arugula Salad, which came with little bit of the sweet potato, toasted walnuts, dried fruit, and dressing. Oh the dressing... too cool. I didn't see what type of dressing it is, but once I found out that it's bacon dressing, I just fell in love with it. It was not heavy, buttery, or full of fat. You can tell a very small hit of bacon and it served as the 'meat' portion of your salad. At this point, if they put a piece of meat on top, I'm not going to protest, trust me.

Frank's Chop House
3736 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77027

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Niko Niko's

If you've been in Houston for sometime and hung out with locals, one of the MUSTS is to go to Niko Niko's. When I first moved here, the place was a little walk up kinda spot. You walk up, they have an awning over your head. If it rains, you know that's gonna suck.

Later on, they enclosed the awning part and added seatings. While it is definitely hard to get the seating you want, but it's tiny and you know the food will be great. Fast forward several years, they totally done up the place where everything, from the original counter from wood to marble, to having a/c everywhere. Increased seating on both sides of the building, added a real parking lot and seatings on the outside too. Not to mention, in the summer they have fans that spray mist and in the winter they have the heater stand so you can sit out there and enjoy the Montrose pass you by.

As for food, while they constantly rolling out new stuff like the honey balls, turulu's, eggplant boats. I always go back to the original gyro plate. The meat was grilled to perfection, goes super well with their seasoned oven potato and the little dolma that comes with your plate. Now, the trick about the potato is that some of them aren't in the oven long enough and it's still hard, but if you got the ones that soaked in their sauce long enough, it's easy to cut and the spice they put on there, it's delicious. You slice a bit of it, take a slice of gyro meat, put that on top of a pita slice and add some tzatiki sauce, it's divine!

Trick about going there is to either go before or after the main dinner time. If you decided to go at 7pm, you'll be in line for about 15-20 mins. Lines are usually out the door and parking is hard to come by, you just have to bring your patience with you.

If you work in the downtown area, they do have a location at Market Square. They also built out a nice seating area for you to enjoy your gyro sandwich. I think the pricing and the whole set up is a tad of rip off. The price of the gyro sandwich at Market Square is more than what you get at the Montrose location. On top of that, you don't get as much food as you do there. When they say it's a sandwich, they really mean just the sandwich. That said, the Market Square location does serve breakfast and for lunch they have special home made potato chips that are known to sell out daily. Same thing about the timing, if you go when everyone else is hungry, you'll be waiting, and in this heat... you may not want to do that. I've once waited 45 mins for my food. So, watch your time, especially if you have a less flexible lunch hour. Time it so that you're not fighting with the Courthouse workers.

Niko Niko's
2520 Montrose
Houston, Texas

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crepe Party

As I had mentioned last week about friend's party where I made a bunch of macarons for them. In return, they had a whole spread of crepes. It was, yes, you guessed it, a full on crepe party.

The fillings included diced ham, grilled chicken, grilled veggies, mushrooms, and respective sauces. Of course, while savory crepes are good and all, what is better is the sweet crepes. If you ever wanted to know what's in a Patty's special from Melange Crepe, it's showned above. It contains, Nutella, strawberries and banana. That's it... (^_^)

What else was in store for us was a show of them demonstrating how to make crepe suzette. It's really flambe' style. Of course, you got your liquor to make the flambe' and top with chocolate sauce and ice cream. That cannot go wrong. YUM!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Wow, I totally didn't realize that the last time I was there was almost 1.5 years ago. Gosh, has it been that long, really?

Well, this time we were there on a mission. As it turns out, my boss' brother-in-law is the GM of the restaurant. So for my boss' birthday, they were able to hook us up with a very nice cheesecake. But while we're here, might as well grab lunch.

In case you don't know, Haven is a farm to table type place. So, if you go to different times of the year, you'll notice that the menu will be different, and as it should be. You shouldn't be able to get watermelon in Winter, say.

Anyway, I love that building, because the entire place is very green. One of the very firsts in Houston. The rain (if we got any in Houston) gets re-directed to water their herb garden. Yes, they have an herb garden in the back (as does Ouisie's Table). Not only that, instead of using HVAC materials for A/C, their air is distributed thru this cloth lining to make sure even air distribution and if it gets dirty, they can unzip it and wash it. Pretty neat.

Alright, onto the food. We sat at the bar area this round. Ordered their pulled pork sandwich, which I love just because of the sauce. I ordered it without bun, but as you can see they were still generous with the meat. The chips you can tell is homemade and not douzed with salt, which is good. The cole slaw is the very few that I actually finish off.

A tip for Haven-goers: suck it up and pay the valet. Because where the restaurant is situated, it's hard to find parking. I do feel bad parking over at Taco Cabana and now defuncted Bennigan's (which is a new bank). It's just easier to pay the valet on this one.

2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX 77098
call for reservation for dinner is recommended

Friday, August 19, 2011

Random desserts

Sometimes at the office, you get random occasion that brings in desserts. If you work in an office full of sugar junkies, you'd know. While the cream puff didn't come from any occasion, I was picking up pie from House of Pies for a work party, figured I'd honor my friend Gloria by enjoying a cream puff.

As you can see, it's super big that I had to cut in 4s. It's filled with custard cream, the top layer of chocolate is the real deal. Not even sure if powdered sugar is needed, but sure enticing.
The other one is that the building had a cupcake day, and they ordered cupcakes from What's Up Cupcake. We were surprised that they got away with that name because of a book by the same name, which obviously was teaching you to make cupcakes.

The story of them was that they have a 50s airstream trailer that they sell cupcakes out of. They used to park over on Shepherd and 14th in the Heights, but since they switched owners they're less visible. But obviously you can special order.

What I missed was that the previous owner has an awesome cookies n' cream cupcake and they can special order cola fudge cupcakes... I miss those. *sigh*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

HRW: Brasserie 19

Brasserie 19 is from the group that owns Ibiza and the new Coppa on Washington. This seemingly great concept of a restaurant live up to it's reputation by having very European decor. You get seating some what intimate with your neighbors, the huge vintage mirrors makes the room bigger, but also one of the feature you'll see across the pond.

First and foremost, I will tell you that if you can make reservations ahead of time. Do! They're still a very hyped restaruant, on top of participating in HRW, it's even more crowded. Second tip, from me to you, if you can possibly help it, make the reservation via Open Table. Not only do they have a point system, where you can earn points for discounts to free meals via OT, their system is much more structured and reliable than you calling in.

Here's what happeend to me: I was not successful in using OT, so I'd figure I can call. The girl who took my information promised to send an email notification to confirm my reservation. When I didn't get one for 2 days, I called to follow up. She basically got all information wrong except my name. From the date, time, number of party, email, phone number, all wrong.

To add insult to injury, they had sent 3 reservation emails. One was 2 days before my reservation, one was for a week after my reservation, and finally one for my legitmate reservation. When I responded to the erroneous ones, I get crickets. No apologies, no sorry for the confusion.... nada. Now I'm being spammed by them, oy!

On to the food, for my first course, I ordered the scallop. I think they can bring more taste out of it than not. I wonder if they're frozen and that's why it's less flavorful. But it was on top of summer peas and with a dash of basil, that I enjoyed very much.
For the main course, I ordered steak (yes, again). I was very surprised that it came with fries. Then, I looked at the menu again... oh yeah, they did say frites. The steak w/ the shallot butter tasted good. But majority of my fries were soggy, or not as crispy as frites would have me believe, so I had a few and forgo the rest of it.
Ahh, finally, my favorite course, dessert. I chose a creme brulee' because that's usually what I use to compare eateries. This was delightful. They used real vanilla bean and got a nice layer of sugar on top. Tres bien!

The other neat thing about this place is their display of menu and wine list. Their food menu is on printed on regular paper. But their wine list is displayed on an iPad. They're awfully trusting, I tell you.

The bar is filled with the seen or be seen 20-something types, but the diners that sit down and have an enjoyable meal are mostly 50-somethings that live nearby. They weren't there to be seen or participate in the meat-market aspect of the place, the way they dress, you can tell that they're there for the food.

One other complain about the place, which is funny to me that it's supposedly a known problem. In the middle of our drinking and eating and merriment. One of us felt the heat, and realized it's started to get warm. While none of us are in the age where hot flashes is to appear, I was curious if it was the wine. Then all of us felt warm. When inquired about it with our waitperson, he told us that this is a known problem. Between the door opening and closing (even though there's only one door), between the heat outside, and the people inside, and the door, the a/c simply just cannot keep up with demand. Well, shoot... that's just not pleasant being warm and trying to enjoy your food. At least if you sit outside, you get a mini breeze. So, pick wisely!

Brasserie 19
1962 West Gray,
Houston, TX 77019
Reservation highly recommended

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

HRW: Branch Water Tavern

For Houston summer, one of the ways to escape the heat is to eat well. Every year, all the wannabe foodies like me look forward to Houston Restaurant Weeks. It had originally started as a one-week event, then it went on two-weeks, then some restaurants on their own extended to another week, and next thing you know, this year, it's a full month. You may ask, why not called it Houston Restaurant Month? Why, that's a good question. All I can tell you is that there's some conflict between 2 groups of people and it involves fame and glory and egos, and that's all I know. Either way, us as diners benefit as well as the Houston Food Bank.

Not only do us, the diners benefit by having these prix fixe menus to try out a place you may otherwise pass by either because of the food, price, or whatever. You get a nice little prix fixe to test out the fare. Of course, the restaurants love it because it brings in people that would've otherwise pass by, instead, the diners can choose from a great range from the prix fixe or go off the menu. How the Food Bank wins is that every dinner of prix fixe price of $35, $5 goes to the Food Bank. For every lunch of $20, $3 goes to the Food Bank.
For the first course, I ordered the almond crusted fois gras with some gelee. The whole palatte was light and airy. You don't feel like because you're eating fois gras and it's fatty and heavy. The crust added some flavor and different texture to the regular fois gras, but all of the flavors complements each other very well.

For the main entree', I had the venison medallion. I had ordered it medium well, but they mixed up my order than my friend's and I got the medium instead. It was good, even though I don't like them that red. There are some sweet potato bites and some brussel sprouts douzed with bacon flavor. I don't usually have venison, so this is a rare treat for me. This wasn't gamey or too chewy, so in my book, this is good stuff. The flavor was brought out nicely with the bacon flavor, and not one thing over empowering the other.

For dessert, I had their famous sticky toffee pudding topped with pitaschio ice cream. They are very well known for this dessert and have entered it in several of the local friendly competition. It was a great ending to the dinner. The pudding wasn't too rich, it was balanced out by the ice cream, and the caramel sauce that came with it.

Overall, I've been to BWT before, have enjoyed their food very much. I have yet to have anything bad there. They are known for getting food from farm to table as many of the newer generation restaurants are featuring. Their menu change as the season and availability change. One thing I would recommend is check out their extensive wine list. They also feature beer that you don't usually get at alot of eateries. Most importantly, if you don't get wine or beer, definitely order their cocktail. BWT has one of the better mixologist in house and create some pretty great drinks, well worth the $10 they charge you for it.

You're going to have to valet unless you venture into the neighborhood. So, either go early, or bring cash to tip the valet. The service is complimentary, but those guys are out in that heat in hope for something, so be generous.

Branch Water Tavern
510 Shepherd
Houston, Texas
713 • 863 • 7777
Reservations is recommended, not open on Mondays

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

HRW: Mo's ... A Place for Steak

As my second HRW this year, my friend picked Mo's. Since I've never been, I was more than happy to oblige. The atmosphere was very traditional steakhouse type decor, even though the name is nothing stuffy. The service for a big party like ours was definitely up to snub.

For first course, I ordered the Gatlin salad (see 2nd photo). That's not something I'm used to seeing in a normal steakhouse. From what I understand, that's a house specialty. The dish includes spinach, orange slices, little fried cheese pieces warmed, and nuts with a vinaigarette dressing. It was perfect for a summer night. Not heavy at all, definitely light and fun.

Second course, I was a tad boring and ordered steak. Hey, you're at a steakhouse, if you don't compare steak, what would you compare?! It was an 8oz filet, just the right size. The dish comes with a red wine sauce that reminds me of the sauce you get with roast beef. A little potato cake, with crispy outer layers, but inside is much like mashed potato, and asparagus.
For dessert, I had the chocolate cake. I was just lured by the fact that it's made with Ghirardelli chocolate. I'm a sucker, so sue me! The cake wasn't as heavy as I'd thought it'd be. The cream definitely balance the flavor out. It's not a heavy heavy type cream like whipped cream, but it was definitely a homemade cream for the topping.

Would I go back for steak or other dishes? Sure. Would that be my first choice? Probably not. In a town with a bunch of carnivores, this is not the only game in town. If everything is decent, as expected them to be, you have to have extra oomph to make me put you top of my list. For the price people pay at this place, you do expect excellent service. I see this is more of a seen or be seen crowd, the outdoor patio said it all. If you're trying to impress a girl, take her there. It will impress someone who thinks you know how to live it up. For a decent dinner, it's a good place to go. But for an awesome steak, I can think of several places that do better job on the food. I wouldn't mind going, but not on top of my list.

Mo's...A Place For Steaks
1801 Post Oak Boulevard, #1E
Houston, Texas 77056
Phone: 713-877-0720

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aka Sushi

I've always liked to go to AKA Sushi. They're the only place I know in town that has a sushi roll that uses Doritos as part of the ingrident. They do have really good sushi, I feel that their fish is fresh and plus my favorit waiter of all time works there. I'm bias!
By accident, we got there during Happy Hour. And we should've known better because it was hard to find a parking spot and the only seats that were open were the ones at the sushi bar and people started to get rowdy... I'm sure it's after more than a few drinks. They are Monday thru Friday 3-7pm, and if it's weekend, I believe they honor the Happy Hour price all day.
It was an absolute fluke that we stumble upon this. But we went ahead and ordered the pork belly dish. It has a decent size of pork belly in that small little bowl (first photo), in it, there's some baby bak choy, a marinated duck egg, and tons of yummy sauce. It very much reminded me of the Twice Cooked Pork dish in Chinese cuisine.

I ordered the mussels (middle photo), which is no different than what you would get at any other Japanese restaurants. I forgot what roll is that, but I like it because it is different in that they use soy paper on the outside and normal kelp inside. It has a small bit of jalapeno in it with small bit of cream cheese. It's not a tiger eye, I promise, because this is something you don't see on a regular basis... guess I'll just have to go back and find out the name. :P

AKA Sushi House
PHONE 713.807.7875

Friday, August 12, 2011

Colorful macs

So, I saw this entry a while back. I just never had the courage or comfort level to try these bright bright colors. Just because you just want to go with the standards. But the more sites I've seen, and more books I've read, the bright colors does draw you in.

Now, mine came out a tad greener than I intended, but it does have that light blue in there, I promise.
For our friends' party, who is also a macaron lover after their trip from Cannes, they are just dying to make some. But since we haven't had time to get together, I went ahead and made a bunch for the party.

One of the guests who didn't know how precious these are, just popped one into his mouth, and was like, that wasn't half bad. -_- hmm...
Of course, then I saw on Macaron Fetish, where she did 2 colors. Since we didn't know exactly how, and I wasn't prepared. So what we did was I piped half exactly the same time with David pipe the other half. That's how we made the 2 color ones. If you read more from Macaron Fetish, you see that her method is much more refine than mine... LOL.

The final flavors: Green (wanna-be-Tiffany) is chocolate mint ganache. Yellow is lemon white chocolate ganache*. Rose was milk chocolate rose ganache.

Basic Ganache Recipe
3oz of chocolate of choice
1/3cup of heavy cream
1 or 2 tbsp of flavor (optional)
1/8tsp of butter

Leave the butter to room temperature, set aside. Chop up chocolate into small pieces and place in a glass bowl. Heat up the cream and remove when you see bubble in the pan. Pour it over the chocolate. Start stirring(some people advise that you let it sit for 5 mins, I don't). I do put the butter in there at this point as I'm trying to get the lumps of chocolate out to smooth. Once it looked smooth, it's time to add the flavoring. Keep stirring, the chocolate should become smooth and shiny. Add coloring for white chocolate if you like.

Once it's all smooth, place a saran wrap over the chocolate but not over the bowl. Meaning, place the wrap on top of the chocolate so that it won't form a skin layer over the chocolate. Place it in either the freezer or fridge. If it's milk or dark chocolate it takes about 15mins in the fridge, 5 mins in the freezer for it to become ganache-ish. Check often, it should become this ribbon-like texture, not too liquidity but not solid either.

*The white chocolate ganache was a pain. After reading a bit, because it has less fat content in the chocolate, it took longer to 'solidify'. I put it in the freezer for 20 mins and it didn't become ribbon-like. It was still liquid all the way even though the flavor was good.

So, the trick apparently it's one of two things: either, I keep the same recipe but do it a day ahead to give it time (preferably overnight) for it to 'solidify'. OR, according to Baking 911, is to do 3 part white chocolate and 1 part cream.

Will have to test it out next round...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Counter

We were sitting at the counter at The Counter. Ha! Love saying that.

No, really, we were sitting at the counter of The Counter for our lunch. If you've never been to The Counter, they are a burger chain out of California that franchise a location to Houston. Trust me, that's a welcome chain.

Their specialty is burger, and you can literallly have it your way. Be your way is with beef, chicken, or turkey, on an onion bun, gluten free bun, or not bun at all (like a salad bowl). With 12 different kinds of cheese, more than 20 differnent types of toppings on top of seasonal toppings. Not to mention 21 types of sauces, and 5 types of buns.

1/3lb of burger starts at 8.50, and then your toppings and variation is where it started to add up. What make these burger so good that they can charge so much? They are hormone and antibiotic free angus beef. Not to mention their ingredients are pretty tasty. I don't mind paying for something that taste good.

The tricks are the sides... I had a milkshake, which is handspun right there. And we split the fries, and be careful about that. Your first temptation is to order your own side of fries. One order is a huge plate full of fries. While they are good and addictive, that's alot on top of your burger. So make sure you order a single order, which is a half order for one person. If you have a group with you, you should try to get the Fifty-Fifty, which can be half French fries, half sweet potato fries, or half fries and half onion rings. Give that a shot. Good chipotle aioli sauce... keep that with your fries!

The Counter
4601 Washington Avenue
Houston TX 77007
713 966 6123

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


After our visit to Azuma in Sugarland, we decided to try the one by us to check out the difference.

Remembered we loved that little beef cooked on the rock thing? Well, we decided to get a larger version of it. Who knew that meant a big bowl of beef with all sorts of veggies like a bowl of stew cooked on top of a setting with a heated rock at the bottom? We didn't (see above). That, in itself, is good enough to be a meal.

Another thing they are known for is their robata. Robata is really skewers cooked on top of charcoal and fire. I think I remember seeing old Japanese TV shows or cartoons where they usually belong to smaller eateries or rolling kiosk where they stop somewhere and sell it for a snack.

I know it's not everyone's flavor but squid is actually very flavorful. There's hardly any mariated on it, but you can taste the fire. And it's a tad crispy.
I ordered an Azuma Roll which has yellowtail, tuna, salmon, and I asked them not to have avacado on it, just because I'm not a fan. Between my squid, the beef and a roll, that's alot of food... so much so that I took half of the beef home as my leftover meal, which was not a bad deal.

The difference between Sugarland and this location: I think the Kirby crowd is used to the uppitdy people, so they tend to expect that you're accommodating to their taste and service. Versus, in Sugarland, while the decor is definitely much nicer than the Kirby location, the feelint is much more casual and relax. Not only that, the server in Sugarland noticed that we brought our own gluten free soy sauce and he volunteer to bring us some without us asking for it. Compare to our Kirby server, who barely noticed that we brought our own soy sauce, not to mention creating more trash for her to clean up. How funny the contrast.

Kirby Location
5600 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX‎ 77005

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Madeleine's Kemah

We were invited to a couple's shower out in Kemah. And I'm all about trying something different. So in addition to support our friends' upcoming nuptial, we were there to try out the food too.

The place is literally in the neighborhood of the massive Kemah attraction. You can walk down there to save yourself the headache of going thru the traffic of the parking garage. Every Friday night in the summer, they are having fireworks. They were able to get around this because the water is just outside of the Clear Lake & Kemah's harbour. So, if you want some low key entertainment, that's a good spot to be.

The shower itself only provided cheese & cracker and bruschetta. The cheese selections were not bad. One of the ones several of us were hooked on was the one with nuts in the cheese and drizzled with honey. If anyone figured out what that was, let me know.
Since it was during dinner time, we all ordered our own dish. I ordered a 1/4 order of lamb because 1/2 order sounded like alot of food. It came with grilled veggie, potatoes and of course lamb.

For that 1/2 order, it was plenty of food. Granted, I did have to work a bit around the bone that came with my lamb to get the meat, but because we've been snacking on the other stuff, it turned out to be perfect.

The place is really a wine bar, they have a piano bar. Not a bar establishment that has a piano, but their piano has a bar built around it for people to sit there and interact with the pianist. But because their expertise is on wine, food is not on top of their priority. The menu is limited, and not as full as you would expect. That said, the food turned out great for a hidden place like this. They have the big items such as lamb and steak. Most of the items have big price tag on it. I would say a tad more than what we get inside the loop even. It's worth the cuisine, but it's not something I would go out of my way to eat. The place is unique and it's something you should try once, but seeing that there are so many eateries in the surrounding area, I'm not sure this is on top of my list for a revisit.

707 Bradford
Kemah, TX 77565

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spec's Deli

For the Houston locals, most all of you know that Spec's is a great place to stock up on liquor, speicality wine, foreign beer, and most recently import of fine food, chocolate, and cheese. But alot of times their deli counter is overlooked.

First of all, the Houston downtown main location is the only Spec's in town that has a Deli counter. But if you're in Austin, there's 2 locations that has the counter luxuary. That said, the staff has been at the location for a long time. There are alot of 'regulars' that come here for lunch and they know the 'usuals'.

The Deli counter doesn't just offer deli sandwich, they also have burgers, catfish, barbequed meat. You can see the full range menu here. The good thing about that is they make everything to order, so you can customize as you like. Word of caution, if you order any deli sandwich, they give you alot of meat, and I do mean ALOT, so watch what you order. 1/2 lb of cold cut doesn't sound like alot at first, but when it materializes you realize your mouth is not big enough for the sandwich.

You can grab a side there, they have everything from fries to cole slaw (which is actually pretty good). You can also do your shopping and grab a soda (or a drink if you needed it). Go pay at the cashier and they even have some side tables at the front for you to enjoy your lunch. If the weather is good, they have a few patio table on the side of the building.

Spec's Warehouse
Houston Downtown location
2410 Smith Street
Houston TX
Not open on Sundays due to State law

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gingerbread mac

Yep, it's my obligatory mac post... I think I should just designate Fridays to be macaron days... we'll see.

Anyway, went to Revival Market since David has never been. Found out that the 'Sugar Hooker', Rebecca Masson deliver her yummy flutternutters there. More importantly, she also has gingerbread macaron there for sale too. (psst, she's going to be on Top Chef Just Dessert on the upcoming season too!) Let's get down to business. It's dark like gingerbread we all know and love. You can tell it's different from the nut based macarons. There's a little spice to it, but it's very faint that you can hardly tell it's there.

The filling is a very buttercream-like creamy and like and neutral flavor. I can't tell you what it is, but I wanted more. You can get them at Revival Market for $2.50 each. I think there's another flavor but didn't catch what it was since they were sold out when I was there. Go check them out.

Revival Market
550 Heights Blvd,
Corner of Heights Blvd & White Oak
Houston, TX

OR order directly from Fluff Bake Bar

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ruggle's 11h Street

11th Street Cafe has been a long standing landmark in the Heights. Long time ago, in a galaxy somewhat far away, that used to be my stomping ground. I would go there on the weekends and brunch. It was ran by a mom and pop and staff that has been there seems like when the building was first built.

Later on, they changed hands. The new management decided eggs and bacon with caviar is the way to go. While, I can definitely appreciate the finer things in life, I can also appreicate the little guys, and the home cooked meals. 11th Street Cafe was that type of place. Homey feel for those of us who live by themselves.

Fast forward to this year, we heard all sort of rambling that they were selling, and that Bruce Molzan may come in and take over. That is definitely a welcome change. That place can use some love from someone who is not in it to make a buck but to really serve good food.
We got there, and remember the tiny-ness of the place. Here's the first turn off, they already have a small parking lot (remember the mom and pop feel from way back?), yet they force you to valet park. Guess they took a page from Stella Sola basically knowing that the neighbors won't want you to park there, it's a tad farther to walk since there are a couple of businesses around that also need the parking. Not to mention the Houston heat. Fine, despite the fact that we practically pulled into our space, but we're paying for valet... insert eye-roll here.

Then the menu, I understand this was their 3rd week of operation under the new management. And while I've heard that it usually takes aboue 3 months for a new place to work out its kinks. The menu was skimpy to say the least.

Items range from $10 thru $20-ish. Of course, it's all relative depends on what you order. I got the crab meat omelete, and it was good. But honestly, as far as brunch goes, for that price, I think we can do better.

I understand they came in a gave it a new coat of paint and updated the booths, but this isn't exactly the tradition Ruggles on Westhimer. Nor is it hip like Ruggles Green. I get that they're trying to be more Austin-ques, but we're not quite there and the menu should reflect that. Heck, the service sure did. I'm not sure if they kept some of the old staff, which is kinda less service oriented, but more like they'll bring you your food because they don't want you behind their counter type attitude.

Overall, for the price, I expected better service and excellent food as Ruggles have delievered everywhere from Bakery to Green. I expected more on all fronts, and it only got there by its food and even then I know they can do a better job as demonstrated elsewhere. We may try again down the road, for now, we're good where we are.

Ruggle's 11th Street Cafe
748 E 11th St,
Houston, TX 77008