Friday, August 31, 2012

The Happy Tart - DC

We are on the road this week and we'll be showing you what we ate in Northeast!
In DC/Virginia area, we found The Happy Tart.  They are known for gluten free goodies.
Just so you know, it is in Del Ray area.  It's a neat little shopping and dining area.  Parking might be challenge, but if you drive too fast, you will miss the place... as you can see, it's tucked in a side of an alley.
Look at that cute little cart... I love it!
Inside, there's the delicious dessert case.  You have your frangipane, cookies, macarons!!! 
Since it's Macaron Friday, I have to give you the obligatory macaron shots!  That's a pistachio mac!
Here we have violette flavor. 
It was definitely more almond-y flavor than normal.  It's also very chewy.  Although, I think I'd like it more if they would put it in a refrigerated case.
Here's what else they have: pistachio cupcake (which by the way happened to have a huge bubble when they baked it).   The frosting was quite nice though.
Then we have a s'more cupcake.  It was nice and marshmallowy for sure... I like how it's chewy on the marshmallow part.  You can tell the cupcake is GF but it's not so obvious that you wouldn't like it.

They also have soup, bread (which I heard tastes closed to the real thing).  We tried their quiche, but it is not cheap.  On top of that, they also have mixes for you to bake your own cookies and lemon bar.

The Happy Tart Bakery
closes on Monday
2307A Mount Vernon Avenue, 
Alexandria, VA 22301

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Weekends, I like to go to sushi places that are hard to get in during the week.  Aka is hard to get in during the week because their happy hour menu is very good.  So good that you get them over Saturday and Sunday.
Couple nigiri - Tuna & chopped scallop - unfortunately a tad too small
Salmon skin hand roll
Spicy Octopus roll - it is definitely spicy and amazingly not chewy as you might think.
Unagi that melts in your mouth... yummy

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

HRW - Au Petit Paris

One final HRW for me was Au Petit Paris.  I've been meaning to check them out for a while now.  I haven't mostly because I was intimidated by the parking situation in the neighborhood.  Lucky for me, I know someone who live down the street and can be comfortable enough to ask to park there, but otherwise, the street parking is quite tight.  
That is why HRW made it so easy to try new place.  We got there early and park down the street and walked down a bit.  I will say that if you come here, double check with reservation.  Some places ask you to have reservation but in reality they have tons of tables, this is not one of them.  They are tiny inside this house, so if they say they don't have a table, I tend to believe them.
First course came in a nice little presentation pot.  So adorable!
Of course, if you're in a French restaurant, you must get the French Onion soup.  It is cute to have it in this presentation.  The only thing I would complaint about is not enough cheese... I love cheese with onion combo.  The other thing I would say is that the soup is thinner than I'm used to for onion soup.  A tad thicker in texture would be awesome.
For main course, I got their salmon.   It's mixed well with the mushroom and I love their white sauce.  The risotto was ok, but the sauce made up for it.  
For dessert I had thought about getting the floating island, but since I don't really know what it is, I went with the old stand by - Chocolate cake.  It was more a sacher in between layers.  The lemony sauce was a nice balance, but next time I think I'll trust my gut and try something new, the chocolate cake was a tad rich (and I have a sweet tooth).

Au Petit Paris
2048 Colquitt
Houston, Texas 77098
(713) 524-7070

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fu Fu - new location

Don't know if you saw the NYT piece about the Houston's Chefs recommendation of Chinese food a few weeks back.  But ever since I've been curious about the places mentioned on the list, especially places that I've never been before.  

Serendipitously, my friend was saying let's meet at FuFu, well, why not?  Let's cross that one off the list!
Pork with clear flat noodle.  It is super slippery but the sauce made this bland noodle worked out great.
Then we have the Egg Tofu with abalone mushroom.  It looked good in the photo menu and it actually tasted good.  The sauce is to die for.
Here we have fried veggie with meat, and while the dish is less exotic than the rest of them, it is quite flavorful, and I'm impressed.
Here we have beef and broccoli but not your run-of-the-mill type, it is over a layer of crispy flat rice noodle.  So yes, you get some doughy noodles soften by the sauce of the dish and it is pretty awesome.
Here we have the traditional pork dumpling Shanghai style with soup inside.  When you order it, made sure you get the right one, they do have ones without it.  The ones here are super big and one order of 4 is actually alot.

Fu Fu Café
Note: They have 2 locations, both within the same shopping center, one facing Bellaire and one facing inside the shopping center.  Tip to you: don't go during peak hours because you will have to wait.
9889 Bellaire Boulevard, 
Suite 105
Houston, TX 77246
(713) 981-8818

Monday, August 27, 2012

HRW - Bistro Alex

Did you know that every meal you eat at a restaurant participating in Houston Restaurant Week, portion of it goes to the Houston Food Bank?   So not only did you get to eat something good, and do some good.
This round we went to Bistro Alex.  It is inside the Hotel Sorella but they have a separate entrance.  You don't have to valet, as a matter of fact, where you valet is near the entrance of the parking garage, so you can self-park if you want.
I love how they bring out the butter in the whipped cream dollip kind of manner.
First course, I selected their calamari, which was nice presentation and crisps to it.  The marinara sauce was addicting.
My friend Angie, got the Strawberry Salad, which I was eyeing for a bit.  It's like a wild field salad with greens, strawberries, cheese with balsamic vinegar.
For my main course, I got the filet.  It's laid on top of buttered mash potato with some wine reduction sauce drizzled on top.  And a lice of goat cheese was a nice touch and you don't see often.
For dessert, we each ordered something different so we can split.  I had ordered the Almond & Orange Scented Tea Cake.  Honestly, all the aromas added together was so nice and is perfect for any hot summer day in Houston.  You do have to dig thru the berries in order to find that almond taste.  But once you get there, it's nice with the berry sauce and the whipped cream.  Ironically, I love eating the orange zest, it was caramelized so it's nice and crunchy.
The other dessert as the Dark Chocolate Cake.  Even though it was so-so I love their ganache so much. I'm embarrassed to say that I kept scraping the plate and licking my fork... yes I have no shame.

Overall, this is definitely a place I'll go back to.  I think it's hard because City Centre is hard to find parking on a Thurs/Fri/Saturday night.  But I would like to check out their bar and then stay for dinner. I will warn you that there will be the seen-and-be-seen crowd there patrolling.  But if you don't dress to impress you won't feel out of place having a nice meal there.  I like that about that place.  People can be pretentious if they want to, the rest of us who know good food can just be enjoying our food comfortably.  

Bistro Alex
800 Sorella Court
(in the Hotel Sorella at CityCentre)
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 827-3545

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sweet - Macaron (One year later)

It's almost been a year from my last visit to Sweet in City Center.  It was definitely a nice surprise to find that there's hardly a line for the after dinner/after movie crowd.
But even without lines, you can see they're sold out of alot of the goodies.  Cupcakes are too adorable.
Of course, I have to get some macarons, just so I can satisfy the urge.
I am sad to report that they raised their from from $1.50 to $2, since I was there last year.  That's a 25% hike.  While some places doesn't do as good of job and there are places who baked these better, they're all charging less than that, so it's popularity definitely helped the ego boost to translate to their bottom line.
This time, I had the Cassis (purple), Passonfruite (multi-colored) Pistachio (green), and salted caramel vanilla (brown)
To me, I would say that their mac fillings had improved where they weren't cheating by just putting in some jam and called it a day.  They actually have a decent buttercream in the middle.  But as you can see, the shell just crumbled after one bite.  As a good mac goes, it should be slightly hard on the outside but moist and chewy on the inside, as opposed to cracked and crumbled.

Town & Country
801 Town and Country Boulevard  
Suite A120, 
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 647-9338

Thursday, August 23, 2012

HRW - Sorrento

More HRW  goodness.  Couple of girlfriends and I decided to try out Sorrento.  I've always driven by but never tried it before.
Upon sitting down, they brought out the pesto garlic with chili sauce dip.  So, it definitely have a kick one way or another.  Also prepare you for fighting vampire or avoiding kissing anybody.
Sorry, not very good shot of their dinner menu, as it was not available on the HRW site.
This is the Burrata, I'm not sure what that is exactly, but it has arugula, figs, orange, green tomato, and the white thing is cheese of some kind.  I didn't exactly cared for it, I had hoped that it taste more like mozzarella but it doesn't.  
For the main course, I ordered the lobster and arugula tortellini with caviar on top of small piece of fish.  I liked the sauce alot, the amount of lobster can be more generous given the size of the tortellini is pretty big.
For dessert, I got their tiramisu.  Sounded safe for an Italian place.  Unfortunately, it has too much mascarpone.  I also rather see chocolate inside instead of chocolate chips on the top.  Let's not to mention that you can barely taste the coffee bitter which I had hope to offset the cheese.  I will say that the handmade truffle was good.

Reservations recommended
415 Westhiemer Rd, ste 106
Houston, TX 77006

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rice Box Truck

I don't know if you know, but right before summer started, Museum Fine Arts had invited local food trucks to do a Lunch and Look.  It's quite brilliant, you get some good food, enjoy it at the garden, and you get free entry to the exhibit.  How I understand the system is that you pick up a Loyalty card + the receipt from the food truck of that day (parked right outside the Sculpture Garden) and you can get a free entry.
I was there for lunch and a movie, yes MFA shows alot of films, not necessary the artsy subtitled type, but revivals too.  Anyway, that day, I met John, the genius behind the truck.  We chatted a bit, like how did he come to the idea of a Chinese food truck.  Turns out he's in love with the culture, knows how to speak Mandarin, and try to get good food in a very non-orange-Chinese-sauce kinda way.  So, he came up with the food truck.

In Chinese, Rice Box is like a Bento Box, where you get a decent amount of rice with a main dish (aka protein) and an eggroll to boot.  And John was just saying how back in the day, the hay day of Downtown Chinatown, where he can get a decent meal at a cheap price, it was college students heaven.  That still holds true at some Chinese grocery stores.
What John meant by the 'orange-Chinese-sauce' is what you see at alot of cheapy Chinese eatery that serves American-Chinese food as opposed to original Chinese food.  Now granted, the bases of his menu is very American-Chinese based, but he made sure the ingredients are fresh and all are the classics most of us know and love as our comfort food.  

What I love about their stuff is that they put a generous portion of rice and you can ask for fried rice at the bottom, and they definitely filled it up with meat and topped it off with an eggroll.  The fried rice, what I opted for, for a $1 add-on.  Is cooked in pork fat, so talk about nice and yummy, there's nothing like it at any local Chinese places.  Ok, that was exaggerated, but you don't find that everywhere, let's say.  And the chicken is not dried and still juicy and meaty by the time I bit into them.  The eggroll, wasn't as good compared to the chicken and the rice.  But I would definitely go back for more and for dumplings.

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Rice Box Truck

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

HRW - Philippe

As the Houston Restaurant Week continues, it's a rare treat that I get to go to try their lunch menu.  Since most of the time I'm at work, or on the weekend, they have a brunch menu.  So going for a proper lunch is a nice treat.  What's also a nice treat is that I got to go to the fabulous Philippe.  I haven't been there for at least a year.  Not that I don't want to go there, some times it's easier and closer to go to places by me.  So going there is definitely a treat.
For HRW, I ordered the wedge iceberg.  I wish they had put more blue cheese to balace out the taste.  And a few more candid walnuts would've been great too.
For the main entree, I ordered the Seafood Risotto.  It has a nice sauce between the seafood and the risotto.  They had shrimp, mussels, scallop and salmon.  The risotto was nice but some bits of it were not cooked thru, and you can taste it when you crunch into it.
For dessert, I ordered the Peach Melba.  I've never had that before, and it sounded good.  It has poached peach, vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce, almonds and chantilly sauce.  It is light and refreshing for a summer day, hot like ours.  Quite nice for something different.

I would recommend you come back for any meal at Philippe.  Their onion soup was good, and their fois gras terrain style is delicious.  Go back and try that.  If not, go do the bar and sit at their posh area and get some tapas.

1800 Post Oak Blvd (next to RDG)
Houston, TX 77056