Wednesday, February 29, 2012

El Tiempo

Truthfully, when it comes to Tex-Mex, I honestly think that there are better place to go in town, but since this is mandated by my boss in NY, I will do the hospitable thing and take our trainer. I mean, literally, on a conference call, my boss called me out and said how can I not take our trainer to the "MUST" eat place in Houston. Alright, I'll do it. If New Yorker thinks this is good food, maybe I'm just missing something.

I will say that their menu had expanded quite a bit since I was there last at the Richmond location. This time it's almost too much to choose from.

I ended up with 2 soft tacos with beef with side of rice and instead of beans, they allow you to swap with seasoned vegetables. The veggies (first photo), was more soggy than I like my veggie. The only time, I think, veggies can be soggy like is if they are in a stew or soup setting, or if they are thinny sliced. Otherwise, it's soggy with no texture lose the appeal of having a side of it.

The other thing I forget, is that their dishes are very much dry and you have to add your own sauce. For my soft tacos, it was really tortilla, meat, lettuce, tomato, and cheese and that was it. For our trainer guest who had a beef taco was just tortilla and meat. There are so much potential for tastes to be discovered here, and it all just became a lost opportunity.

Anyway, they have good margaritas and sangrias, which totally makes up for it. Since you'll be too drunk to realize there's more tastes to be experienced, and those salt on the rim of the glass already helped seasoned your palette before putting food in there.

What I was truly amazed and may be talked into going back is their big Seafood Deluxe Parrilla. We have seen table after table ordering it, and the presentation is impressive with lobster, shrimp, fajita meat and the fixin's. If you want to go all out, they have an add on for Ribs, Quail, Carnitas, Sausage, Mushrooms, and Chile Relleno. Talk about going to town. You definitely need friends to come help you out, although I did see them having a 1 person serving size. HA!

El Tiempo
Washington Corridor Location
5602 Washington Ave
Houston, Texas 77007
(713) 681-3645

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kona Grill

Whenever we're at the mall, we like to run over to Kona for dinner. They have something for everyone. Me, of course, will be parked at the sushi bar. They have a head sushi chef in house, but looking at the roll on the menu, everything is pretty standard.

I got the Dragon roll, couldn't you tell with the tongue sticking out and carrot antennas sticking up. Actually, you should be able to tell because it's mostly wrapped with eel on top, drizzled with eel sauce.

For other dishes, they do a good job on fusioning the East and West, like they have a Pan Asian Noodles, which is udon noodles with beef and garlic stir fry together. They also have flatbread pizza, salads with fresh fish. I think that's a main draw of the place, variety and fresh food. Give that a shot.

Another draw for the place is their bar. Everytime we are there, the bar is packed because of a sports game, DJ spinning, or just good deal on drinks. Their bar is quite lively for sure.

Kona Grill
Inside Houston Galleria
5061 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77056

Monday, February 27, 2012


For yet another work dinner, we went to Laurenzo's. I've heard alot about it, mainly that they are part of the El Tiempo family. But don't get me wrong, there's no Tex-Mex here.

They are known for their Au Jus here, well, then I shall give it a shot! But before that, alot of people were telling me how good their calamari is, so why not give that a shot?
Au Jus it is! I got the Space City cut because that's the smallest size they have. Honestly, I didn't even finish that. That is an 8oz prime rib cut, and does taste good with the creamed horseradish (and I'm not a horseradish person). But that is alot of meat! They stripped their asparagus and I had hoped to get more of the skin on there. But it's not bad. Dip the meat in the Jus, it's tasty. Just lots of food.

4412 Washington Ave.,
Houston, TX 77007
Reservations is recommended

Friday, February 24, 2012

Deep Dark Chocolate Pudding

So, when you make alot of macarons, you have alot of egg yolks left over. I have been going over recipes in books and online sources to see what I can make. Most of the time, they suggest you to make hollandaise, creme brulee' or flan. While I am still having issues with my bain marie, I decided to do the pudding instead.

This recipe is from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Dessert. They should call it Everything Ooey & Gooey.
They do ask for bars of chocolate, so indeed we got our good chocolates... Yum!
What do you do when you have a pot of chocolate and creme? Make them into little pots of pudding, of course!
Truth be told, they filled up more than just 3 pots. And each of them took me at least 3 or 4 times to finish, just because it's so rich and so thick. Let me tell me, I have a sweet tooth and I can usually take alot of chocolate, but I can't take a little pot of that. It's crazy, I still have cups of puddings left in the fridge. Next time more little cups and lesser portion.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ocean Palace

So some friends mentioned that they have never had dim sum before. So what else would be a better choice but to the biggest dim sum place in town?

While I was waiting on them, I ordered a couple of things so my table won't looked so empty with me hogging a four-top. The top right is a rice noodle with roasted pork wrapped inside. The other is a fried seafood mixture with a bird nest like outer shell.
Finally, the rest of the group came in, and in come the food. Noodles, Har Gow (shrimp dumpling), taro cake, turnip cake, baked char siu bao (roasted pork), ribs. And you will notice on here, no chicken feet! Contra to popular believe, not all Chinese people like chicken feet.

Traditionally, they push a cart full of yummy goodness around. Some of them gets to be pushy (haha, pun!) trying to push one of each dish they have to offer so be very picky. While you can get alot of goods from the carts. They also have a station in the front where you take your stamp card up to the station and pick and choose dishes. Just grab a tray and take the dishes back to your table. Your server will come and collect it back.

Trick about going to any dim sum in Chinatown is to get there early. Doesn't matter if you go to a big place or a small place, prime time for dim sum is about 11:30a-1p. Go early, plus, you'll have decent parking that way.

Ocean Palace
11215 Bellaire Blvd #D-01
Houston, TX 77072
(281) 988-8898

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toyama - Dinner

After picking Mom up from the airport, she was just saying that they didn't have a decent Japanese dinner on her trip to West Coast. That is just blasphemy. To make up, we went back to Toyama.

This is a little seafood salad, with bits of fish, roe, pickled veggies.
Here's the ahi tuna salad. We liked it so much from last time that we ordered it again.
Here's the freebie they give you. It's tempura of seafood on top of bell pepper.
Osaka Roll, which has soft shell crab, mango, eel and avocado. The mango brought up the sweet taste with the sweet sauce the eel has. It all tasted very good together.

I love this place, go try it if you haven't yet.

2802 S. Shepherd Dr.
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 528-8528

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tiny Boxwood's - Brunch

Girlfriends and I were going to brunch and they suggested Tiny Boxwood. I love the place because you really feel like it is a gem inside the neighborhood. Unfortunately, because of the area, it became more of a seen or be seen type of place instead of a fun hidden place in a beautiful setting.

We split everything, which is a good way to taste everything. We saw someone had bought a scone, and that made us drooled. So blueberry scone with nice flavors.
Steak and Egg pizza, which has blue cheese, steak chunk, and egg, sunny side up.
I wanted Migas because I missed it when I was in Austin. That's a big thing for me. It's much lighter on the salsa than I expected. Usually, migas are eggs, sausage, tortilla strips, cheese and salsa. I think I would like to see more salsa on my migas.
Lastly, this is a potato & egg pizza, sans cheese. It is a thin bread type pizza, but I still like the blue cheese better.

If you plan on coming for brunch, they serve up till 2pm. We got there about 1pm and there's a long line out the door and hardly any seating. They do discourage you holding the seat while part of your party is still waiting in line. That is nice and fair to others.

My suggestion, if you come here for brunch, come early. Or rather, bring your patience. You will need it, especially on a nice day.

Tiny Boxwoods
3600 West Alabama
Houston, Texas 77027

Monday, February 20, 2012

Aka Sushi

If you ever want to get some good food, every weekend at Aka Sushi, they have happy hour all weekend long. That is pretty awesome because they have some great appetizers that they offer during Happy Hour but not during normal meal times. So, guess what? I went to town.

First off, (picture above) I ordered mussel. It is no different than the baked mussel you get at most sushi places. But doesn't mean that it doesn't taste good.
Takoyaki - octopus, teriyaki style. To be fair, I didn't know that they're going to give me the entire octopus. I was thinking mini calamari size, not an entire body full...
Unagi roll - it's literally that, eel in a roll.
Spicy tuna handroll.
Pork Belly - it comes in a little pot, and it was braised in a nice sauce with half an egg and bok choy. I will warn you that if you order this, it does take 15 minutes, and they mean it. So don't wait till last minute to order.

If you are going to catch Happy Hour, make sure you catch the off time because otherwise you'll be waiting even for the sushi bar.

Aka Sushi
2390 West Alabama Street
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 807-7875

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sprinkle's special

Don't know if you know this, but Sprinkle's Cupcakes partners with celebrity to create special cupcakes for charity cause.

My friends and I went there the other day and saw the S'more Cupcakes. Turns out they were partnering with Blake Lively (from Gossip Girl), and the charity is Oxfam. In case you wonder what's Oxfam, they fight against poverty by providing public education and enforce Fair Trade.
The cupcake is pretty awesome. As S'more goes, it was necessary to have the required ingredients: chocolate, graham cracker, and of course marshmallow. If you take a slice at it, it actually came out nice and clean and of course the gooey ooey marshmallow fluff. It was of course, super yummy.

Sprinkle Cupcakes
in Highland Village
713. 871 9929

Oxfam Partners

Thursday, February 16, 2012


For our friend, Krista's birthday, the birthday girl wanted to go to Yard House, and we thought that's a great idea.

In the middle of City Centre, the new playground for alot of yuppies, there are tons of food for your choosing and great stores for you to browse thru. But back to Yard House, they have a wall full of beers from everywhere. Mind you, the wait is at least an hour for a table, but if you want to stand by the bar, you may just be lucky enough to grab a beer.
Under another friend's suggestion, I picked the grilled Korean pork belly taco. It came with 2 decent size tacos, side of rice, and beans. I've never been a beans person, so I forgo all of those. The rice is a spicy rice, and the taco has a thick tortilla, but the pork belly is super yummy. The veggie goes with the meat very well and harmonious. Definitely worth a try. And if that's too much food, they do have a smaller version available.

The Yard House
at City Centre
840 W. Sam Houston Parkway
Houston, TX 77024

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beaver's Houston

So as a happy hour for our trainer, we took him to Beavers. I love how cheeky the place is. And their staff wears a shirt that said, 'It's South of Hooters'. It's just hilarious to me.

That said, their drinks menu means serious business. There's not one cocktail on there that isn't a true brilliant creation. Since I'm a light weight, I did very little drinking, but I did try the Bee's Elbow, it has gin, honey, grapefruit juice, and Lavender Tincture, have no idea what the last thing is, but it tasted good. I recommend that.

Of course, food has to be involve. I've heard alot about their smoked queso, so we ordered some. Perfect bar food. The queso was good, but wasn't as spectacular as people on Yelp were saying.
What was spectacular, were the wings. They had a mild and a spicy version, and to my surprised, I loved the spicy. It's nice and crispy and meaty to boot. I heart those wings.
Another 'must' I heard from people was their mac and cheese. It has a nice toasty layer on top, and it's all gooey inside. The cheese was a perfect marriage with the mac, just give me a tub of that.
We also got the 'Big Balls', where it's really boudin balls. It tasted good, but not as good as what comes next.
The dessert, the 'Beaver Balls', where it is brownie, held together by peanut butter, fried, with vanilla ice cream on top. OMG, that's just the best thing ever! It is rich and you do get filled up after one, but it's so great!

Our server was a snarky bartender, but it kinda added to the charm of the place. Besides bar food, they also have bigger dishes as well. Maybe I'll go back for that next round.

Beavers Houston
2310 Decatur Street,
Houston, TX 77007-7519
713-864-BEAV (713.864.2328)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chama Gaucha

So I've been hearing about Chama Gaucha from friends for a while. It has been described as Fogo de Chao lite. You get the meat, but less fancy and easier on the pocket.

It basically the same format: you sit down, get a card, green means bring me more meat, red side means stop bringing me food.
They have a decent spread at the salad bar, it not only have salads, it has cold cuts too. Just in case you want some thin slices before the real thing. Look at those monstrous size asparagus.
Alright, I'm weak, they have good cold cut and cheese, with little bit of caesar, and some potato salad, and tobuli.
While you wait for your meat, they bring you sides: polenta, mashed potato, and plantain (my fav).
This is my friend, Julia, ready for the server to cut her a slice.
My friend, Angie waiting for her turn.
To start: I had chicken wings, bacon wrapped pork (yes, pork on top of pork), a slice of their garlic beef, and parmesan pork. You wouldn't think that'll be good, but the taste of parmesan smoked out the pork and bring a salty-ness to the meat.
Here's some polenta.
Buddy, Fei Lynn waiting for her yummy meat.
Red sauce, that's a tad spicier than I'd like.
For dessert, they gave us a wide variety to choose from. I picked the papaya pudding. The GM suggested that we add a bit of the Cassis liquor. Twist my arm... sure. It does bring but the tropical flavors.
Julia got a key lime pie, which I didn't taste it, I just love how they decorated it.
I truly had enough... please stop bringing meat by... Had to be rolled out of there, I swear. Nah... but I was near stuffed, luckily, I practiced will power that night.

You'll be pleased to find out that alot of the servers that runs this placed used to work at Fogo, which means they are super polite, watches your table and make sure you're well taken care of. On top of that, they truly brings excellent service to you.

Also, when you sit down, they bring you these popovers, which are Brazilian bread. It is made out of parmesan and yuzu flour. I've never baked w/ yuzu flour before, but it sounded good and tasted good. My friend Julia swears that she saw them at Spec's 3 for $1. So, if you're in a pinch and wasn't ready for a full meal of meat, that's your alternative.

Chama Guacha
5865 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 244-9500

Monday, February 13, 2012


If you ever end up on 2nd floor in the new part of Galleria by Nordstrom, you would've seen this tiny store front that said E-Tao. It's a Chinese place that is not too fast-food-ish.

They have dishes from Shanghainese, Cantonese, to just down home dishes. For afternoon, after a round of shopping, this is a good mid-point to fuel up. We ordered the dim sum platter, which has the Shanghai style dumpling where they have a decent amount of soup sealed in the dumpling and pork potstickers. Har Gow - shrimp dumpling, Shu Mai - pork dumpling; both dim sum classics. Of course, in the center is the chicken sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf. I would say that dumplings are really their thing, as the sticky rice was a tad cold in the middle. Hmmm...
Just in case that wasn't enough, we ordered my favorite dry beef stir fry. Not that the beef was dried or aged, just that it's not done with any soup or wet sauce. That was pretty close to what I get at Hong Kong Cafe.

Overall, for mall food, this is exceptional. You don't get snotty waiters from Gigi's, and you don't get mystery brown food at the food court. I would say that they needed more wait staff at E-Tao for sure, at times you can't find your server and when you see the manager and bus people have to step in left and right you know they're in need of people.

5135 W Alabama St #7295
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 965-0888

Friday, February 10, 2012

Enoteca Macaron

So, on our quest for macarons in Austin, we attempted to go to La Patisserie to get our huge macarons. EXCEPT! They don't open on Mondays. Boys and Girls, remember that next time you're in Austin on a Monday, no macaron from La Patisserie for you!

What do we do? We checked Yelp of course. Since I've never been to Enoteca, that'd be the choice. They are located in the heart of SoCo, so if you want to go there, you'll have to be prepared for the hassle of parking or lack there of.
They have macarons for $1.80 each. And they do have a macaron box, five for $8. It's really a pretty box. Sadly, they don't have any, but the guy behind the counter was kind enough to cut me a deal. That works out great, I want those macarons, he knows I'll take whatever I can, why not make a deal out of it.

I have to say, the macs structurally sound. I will say none of them fell apart when you bite into it. No fillings melted on the car ride home. There were no stuck up owner that thinks they can be rude to you just because you're buying a couple of little macs. The flavors were there, the techniques were there. I highly recommend coming back. Buy some macarons and enjoy South Congress.

Enoteca Vespaio

1610 S Congress
Austin TX 78704
512.441.7672 ph