Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Golden Palace

Once upon a time, Golden Palace was Houston's top dim sum place.  While there are better, newer place for dim sum.  I thought we should re-visit just for kicks.
For the uneducated dim sum, this is the picto-menu for your easy ordering.
We got the standard's: shu mai - steamed pork dumpling
Har Gow: steamed shrimp dumplings
Pork Rice Noodle (my childhood favorite)
Fried Turnip Cake.  They really steam it first in to this congealed cake.  Sliced then pan fried.
Fried dumpling, it's veggie filling inside.
Another childhood favorite: Char Siu Bao - steamed pork bun.  Look out, they do have a baked version.  Use the picto-menu to make sure you get the right one.
Steamed ribs with pepper and black bean

They serve dim sum seven days a week.  Dim sum used to be a special thing for weekends.  This is now available every day as you wish.  You order them with a check list and they bring out the dishes to you.  Gone are the days of charming little carts with the dishes.  They still serve that further down on Bellaire, but for faster, expedited way, check off the list and they will bring it out to you.  Reasonably priced, and you'll have leftovers.  So, be sure to ask for to go boxes and save them for the next day!

Golden Palace Restaurant
8520 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036

Monday, October 28, 2013

Izakaya Wa

I heard about the Izakaya Wa from Sushi Club of Houston, and there's nothing I like more than to try some place new.  So, grabbed a couple of friends to have dinner there.
Izakaya really means a drinking house that serves food.  They have alleys full of bars that serve food, let's call it a all happy hour all the time.  You probably have seen it in movies or anime, and that's what they are trying to create here.  Food that accompanies your drinks.

Their menu is about 3 pages, simple stuff.  1st page was appetizer type food, then it's sushi, then it's skewers.
For sushi, we got a spicy salmon roll, salmon skin handroll, and unagi handroll.
For skewers we have: Scallop skewers
Quail Eggs
Pork belly (top) and Shitake Mushroom (bottom)
Ground chicken wrapped in shiso leaf
We ordered a Hamachi Carpaccio that is pretty good.

The sushi is excellent grade, I definitely felt like we got fresh fish from that point of view.  The skewers, as you saw from the photos, they are all the same color and same taste.  When I saw the skewers on the menu, I was hoping it was grilled not fried with panko.  The sauce to dip it in is good, but since all of the skewers tasted the same, guess it doesn't really make a difference.  The other dishes aren't bad.  But overall, I'm not sure I'll be back just for the other dishes.  We can get decent sushi all around town without going all the way there.  

I will say that the servers are knowledgable on the menu, and super friendly.  Alot of the local Japanese came out in drones to support the owners.  I think I will come back in a month or so and wait till they work out the kinks.  From what we heard, they were going to have a grill for the skewers, but at the time, they weren't set up.  So maybe when we go back, it'll be up and coming.

The place is not easy to find.  From Google Map, it looks like it's by Town and Country, when in fact, you still have to go onto Memorial a little bit more.  And it's behind couple of buildings.  If you don't know what you're looking for, you can easily miss the place.  They took over a building that looks like it was built for Italian or fancy French, with patio and such.  But, I understand starting a new restaurant is hard to find a spot with the price you want. 

Izakaya Wa
12665 Memorial Dr.
Houston, TX 77024

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hong Kong's Cafe

I love going to Hong Kong Cafe, it's like my own Cheers.  You go there, they know you and the regulars know you.
I always like to remind people that they only accept cash.  Go to ATM before you come out.
I always order the lemon iced tea.  It's no lipton with a slice of lemon, they also add syrup to make it sweet.
This is my childhood favorite, dry stir fried beef and rice noodle.  Instead of having the 'wet' style, which means it will have a gravy sauce.  Dry style just has the flavoring and color and it's dried.  Quite yummy.

Hong Kong Cafe
9108 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77479

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Clay's Restaurant

I had a mom's group lunch event that took me all the day deep in Katy.
As the name suggest, it's on Clay road.  It's very much a burger and fries type place.  But they have a great outdoor space for parties, especially for kids.
I had the Cesar Salad, which does have decent chicken.  Sadly, can't say that about the lettuce, as I've had a few that were black looking.  In case you didn't see, there's a bed of mac and cheese at the bottom.  It was cold, which reminds me of the ones you get in a tub from grocery store.  So, needless to say, I pretty much just had the chicken.

While I can't speak much of the food.  The space is unique.  It looks like a great place to get a bucket of beer and catch a game.  And the kids and run around in their back area, which has a sandbox, and a small area for a mini zoo.  Even though this is out of the way, and it prides itself for being off the beaten path, it's definitely family friendly.  

Clay's Restaurant
17717 Clay Road
Houston, TX 77084

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marini's Original Empanadas

I was over at the Westchase area and remembered Marini's is in the area.
This is a great place and it's unfortunate that it is at the back of the shopping center.  Not that they are short of customers.  When I was there for lunch, they were busy.
This is the lunch special number 2, which comes with one savory, one sweet empanadas with curly fries and a drink.  All with a low low price of $8, that's with tax.
For the Savory, I had the Texas BBQ.  They have these little picos sauce that is excellent to go with it.  Remember to pick up a few, they are addicting.
For the sweet, I had the apple pie.  It is super yummy and definitely fresh.

I love coming here, because Papasito brought my food to me.  And the food is piping hot, fresh out of the fryer.  You can tell that the entire place is family ran.  Everyone there wanted to make sure you are well taken care of.  And you don't get that much around Houston anymore.  So, if you have a chance, go down there for a home-filled meal.  Even though everything is fried, it gets you all warm and fuzzy inside.

Marini's Original Empanadas
10001 Westheimer Rd
#2570, at the back of the shopping center facing the wine shop
Houston, TX 77042

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tiger Den - Preview

So, the Ramen in Common were lucky enough to get invite by Tiger Den to do a noodles preview.
I didn't get a shot of the inside, but the decor is super hip and you really feel like you're having a good bowl of noodles.  If you want to take a look, Carl, founder of Ramen in Common had done a write up with pictures.
This is their original Tonkatsu.  The soup is ok, the egg is super nice and the pork is superb.  They make their noodles in house.  It is a good idea to have some fresh noodles made in house, but in the soup it gets starchy.
This is the spicy version of the tonkatsu.  It's very different from the original, even though the base is exactly the same, with the difference of the spicy paste ball.  You mix it all up, and the soup is super flavorful and it will rock your world.  You realize the original is nothing in compare to this.  The flavorful pork mixed in with the soup is super awesome.  Noodles still starchy, but everything else just got kicked up a notch.

From what I heard, they will have 5 types of noodles with snack dishes.  They will open on Monday night for friends and family preview, and Tuesday to public.  I recommend you go check them out.  Food is definitely worth checking out.

Tiger Den
9889 Bellaire Blvd
Ste 230
Houston, TX 77036

Thursday, October 17, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen

So I was meeting a friend over at the Galleria, and decided to go to go to CPK.
Haven't been there forever, and forget that during lunch it's super busy.  But that doesn't phase the servers, they were all super friendly and on top of their tables.
I got a cranberry juice with club soda.  Not too sweet, but just enough to get me thru a hot afternoon.
Here I got the Pear and Gorgonzola thin crust pizza.  It's more like a salad on top of my pizza.  But the gorgonzola cheese does mix well with the pear.  It's not too strong and pair nicely.  Not too messy as you think it might be with the slices of them.  I think I may like to have less veggie, or have it separately, but not bad.

California Pizza Kitchen
1705-A Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cafe Kubo's

One of the perks of being a member of Ramen in Common is that whenever there's anything new in Houston's Ramen world, you can be sure to know about it first.
With founder, Carl Rosa's connections from the Sushi world, as members, we get the benefit whenever they needed guinea pigs to try out their new menu items.  Sign me up!
There are fried shrimp, oyster mushrooms, stuffed pepper, fried pork.  All in Osaka Style, which means batter is made with four, grated yam, water and eggs.  It makes it light and fluff and doesn't block out the flavors of the food themselves. 
This is the Chicken Ramen.  It is a very good comfort food, and it'll be perfect when the weather gets cooler.  I would say the soup base was a little lighter than I'd like in a ramen.  But the noodle is perfectly balance with elastic and taste.  The chicken, and this is a consensus, where the dark meat is much more flavorful than the light meat.  The egg of course is perfect.  When you slurp up the soup, make sure you get some scallion, because it draws out the flavor of the soup.  So don't be a fool and discard them!

Cafe Kubo's
9889 Bellaire Blvd
Ste 234
Houston, TX 77036

Ramen in Common

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


So, Carl from Sushi Club of Houston, had compiled a list for us pregnant ladies a while back.  And KPRC happens to do a piece on pregnant ladies and sushi.  And they invited me to do an interview
I'd figured since I'm at Kubo's anyway, I might as well have lunch.
Here we have Tuna, Salmon, Chopped Scallop, and Unagi.

I always love to go there, food is always fresh and the entire staff is friendly.  If you go there and valet, they will give you a voucher for the parking, so it's free and you don't have to troll around the outside to find a spot.  Definitely worth going!

2414 University Blvd
Ste 200
Houston, TX 77005

Monday, October 14, 2013

Philippe - Patio Grand Opening

So I was invited to Philippe's Patio Grand Opening...
 Honestly, I haven't been back since before Chef Philippe Schmidt left his namesake restaurant.  So, with the new Patio opening up and new chef, this is as good of a time as any to check out everything.

When you walk in, they have special cocktails for the evening.  Very generous about alcohol flowing.
 Nice and spacious patio.  Perfect for Fall weather and hanging out with friends.
 The servers just kept the food coming.
 Drumsticks Coq au Vin, the sauce is a the bottom, and you can just grab the drumstick and dip. 
This is jumbo shrimp with mango salsa.  The shrimp was super delicious, we had 2 of these.
 This is the pulled pork mini sandwich.  Perfect, I say.
They have some beautiful oysters.
 This is a curried Fried Mac n' Cheese.  Once you bite into it, it has some strong curried flavors. 
 Beef Profiterole, it's super cute and super yummy.  The beef is well marinated, highly recommended.
 This is their tomato and parmesan soup.  You can really just taste the cheese, and since I'm not used to consuming cheese this way.  I'm not very thrilled about that.  
 Caprices and tomato, just like the dishes, this is thoroughly planned and executed. 
 This is another awesome craving job!  The grilled shrimps were awesome too
 This is not a fly, it's their Fennel emulsion with caviar.  It's unique, but nothing to write home about.
 Lamb Puff, Pulled Pork, and Ahi Tuna in a square of cucumber.   Very nice together.
This is their white truffle with lime in the middle.  It's very delicious and definitely lime.  
This is Churro with Hot Chocolate.  The hot chocolate has a little pepper to it, so it does have a kick to it.  We can't stop eating it.
Here's their version of macarons... definitely not the French way.  The shell was super soft, where you pick it up and it crushes in.  It doesn't have the 'feet' a normal macaron does.  But the flavors are pretty good.  It's Sweet Potato (left) and Strawberry (right).  By the time the tray gets to us, all of the chocolate ones are gone, gone, gone.  

Not pictured: Black Forest Mousse - super delicious, you can tell there's a bit of alcohol with a kick to the mousse, but it won't stop me from getting it again.  Plantain chips with Tuna Tar Tare, well marinated Tuna paired with the chips very nicely.  Grilled shrimps.

The patio concept is definitely nice.  Not only to make additional seating, this is a more casual side of Philippe.  The only thing was that they did not get the electric box set up for the outside before the grand opening.  As you see on the photos, as the night goes on, it gets darker and darker; that's because they did not have electricity, so there's no light and no fan.  I understand they were trying to capture the good weather, since it just rained, mosquitoes were out in the full force having the fan would've been nice.  Meanwhile, we were dining in the dark.  Romantic as it may be, we were being eaten too.  We were promised by the manager that when we come back it'll be all fixed.

On to the food, it's not the French Cowboy's way anymore.  As a matter of fact, it's not French at all.  So whatever you knew of Philippe's food, scratch that out of your mind, and open the mind of a nicely paired fusion.  Food is delicious, doesn't matter which type of cuisine it is, just go and enjoy it.  I knew the new Chef (former Chef de Cuisine) was on hand, but everyone wanted to rub elbows with Chef Manuel Pucha that I can't even make it to the front of that line.  Definitely go with an open mind and see Pucha's creativity.  

Also check out their Master Chef Lunch, which for $20 you get 3 courses for lunch, it may be limited but you are promised to have great food.  They also have lunch to go, which is convenience for me, because it guarantees to have good lunch in a jiff. 

1800 Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056