Thursday, January 30, 2014

Monster PBJ

David has a craving for PBJ, so we trekked down to Menil's parking lot to catch them.
 There were couple other trucks out there as well, so you can have a mini crawl right there.
 They sell Mexican Coke, except they no longer use cane sugar, they too switched over to high fructose corn syrup.  Sad.
 They made ordering easy... you just mark what you want.  Don't forget to mark how you cut the sandwich, I forgot to do that.  You'll see why in a little bit.
 They wrap your sandwich in this nifty little package and their seal of approval to prove that they stand by their products.
Classic (meaning full sandwich), gluten free bread, with Almond butter, Nutella, and banana.  I had them panini-ed it, but I forgot to ask them to cut it apart.

Their gluten free bread is specially made for them, but I have to say, it's pretty dry and every bite, I felt like my sandwich is about to fall apart.  The sandwich is good, but the bread is what makes it, if that part is not good, the experience is skewed.  I hope they continue to find another gluten free bread alternative.

Monster PBJ
find them:
follow them:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Korea House

When I saw a friend went to Korea House and had a great experience, I was curious about it. 
It's on Long Point along with alot of the other authentic Korean restaurants, but it's further away from the main corner down on Blalock.  This place is by Gessner, which is not my normal Korean hang out.
I love eating Korean food just for these side dishes.  Although, I do miss the little anchovies, mini veggies, and cucumber.  Those are to balance out the spiciness you get from Kimchi and other spicy dishes.
This place has purple rice, which you don't get alot.  They also have other beans in the pot.  These pots were cooked over open fire.  So the rice do stick to the rock pot.  They give you a glass of hot water to pour into your bowl to lift the sticky rice out.
We got their Bulgogi beef.  Very well marinated.
This is their grilled mackerel, very well seasoned.  I ate more than half of this fish.
They give you a soup on the side.  It has tofu, peppers, onions, cucumber, and not at all spicy.
At the very end, as a dessert, they give you this sweet soup.  It's cold and light in texture.  But it's made with a type of rice.  It's quite good.

One of the reason we came here is because we heard about their All You Can Eat menu.  But the thing is, it cost $26 per person, so while each dish you order to cook at the table is about $12 or $13, but to make that worth it, that would be 4 dishes for the two of us, which we cannot finish.  

So by accident, we saw the lunch special of $26 for two, we decided to give that a try.  Not knowing that everything is already cooked for us.  I was a bit disappointed because part of the experience for the Korean dining is the cooking at the table.  Not that they cook for you.  We've decided that next time when we come, we have to get a few more people to make it all worth while.

Korea House
10078 Long Point Rd
Houston, TX 77055

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Was meeting a coworker for a night out, but before we wanted to grab a bite. By chance, we ended up at Straits.  
We started with the beef satay.  That's pretty straight forward, pretty hard to screw this up.
This is their version of the Hainan Chicken dish.  It is more new age than I'm used to.  There's more rice than chicken, but the rice is good.  The soup was too cold, and the sauces didn't go well with the dish.  I will say that they fried the chicken skin, that's what dividing the chicken and the rice.  That, was good.
This is the seafood pad thai.  The sauce is good, much closer to the originals.  

I know their food is a fusion Asian style, but I think if they are being creative and going new age, they should name it something else.  When they use the same name, it rings certain expectations up for the dish, and your brain already have your taste buds expecting certain things.  When you have a different name, it just helps to create a different and new experience.

The atmosphere is very hip and young, definitely fit in the whole City Centre mood.  I heard that at weekend nights, they even have a DJ at their bar and pump up the mood.  I do get weary about a place that rather drum up alcohol business, how focused their food would be.  As it turns out, one plus and one minus, so I guess that's a wash.

800 Sorella Court
Ste 940
Houston, TX 77024

Monday, January 27, 2014

California Pizza Kitchen

So when we heard that CPK decided to have gluten free pizza, we wanted to check them out.
To start, we had the caramelized peach salad.  It has peach (obviously), pecan, spinach, field greens, onions, gorgonzola cheese and vinaigrette for dressing.  This is a full size order, you can ask for half order.
 We got BBQ Chicken pizza on a gluten free crust.  It has onions, chicken, gouda, and bbq sauce.  

I can tell you that the GF pizza is so new that alot of the server is not familiar with it.  They think we were trying it out, as oppose to having a need to for it.  Luckily, they were able to make any pizza on the GF crust, so that expand the amount of food we can choose from.  From what we understand, they are looking into dessert next, so hopefully we'll have some yummy delish dessert gf soon!

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

PF Chang's

Now that we have a baby, it's hard to go out on a date.  Luckily, my mom to the rescue, so we got to dine alone grown up style.
Went to PF Chang's, which we haven't had dinner the two of us for some time.  At night, if they think you'd be interested in using chopsticks, they present you with this fancy box, and you get to pick your own chopsticks.  You know what?  When I'm at home, I have a whole array of chopsticks to choose from, but I wasn't about to give the poor hostess a hard time.

That night was a tad cold, so I ordered some hot tea.  It came with it's own tea pot.  The idea is cute, but when it is cold out, and I wanted more tea to keep warm, that itty bitty thing was just not cutting it.  I kept having to ask for more hot water.  It's cute but not functional, per se.
We got a chicken fried rice and of course gluten free.  You can always tell because the plates they use.  The ones with the logos are specially for gluten free.
Also a spicy chicken gluten free.  The spice definitely have a kick to it. 

This time it was weird that the server gave us normal fortune cookies (which are not gf).  Usually, if the server is smart, they go to the manager to ask for the gf cookies.  It's odd, as big of a chain as PF Chang's, not only do they not make their own, they buy small boxes from another vendor.  We know they keep those at the manager's office.  This round, however, when I requested to get some gf fortune cookies, the server said they stopped providing gf cookies.  That's kinda disappointing if it is true.  We'll go back some point, I'll have to ask about that.

P. F. Chang;s
Highland Village
4094 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77027

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

51Fifteen - lunch

One thing about officing inside the mall is that unexpectedly, you get employee discounts.  We are talking about sodas, ice cream, and yes, lunches too.
I was at 51Fifteen not too long ago, but didn't get to take advantage of their bar (Associate) specials.  These are rotating lunch specials for bar seating only.  The cost went from $10 to $13, tip included.  And that gets you a nice entree and a drink.  

This time, I got a skirt steak, and they allow you to substitute, so I asked for mashed potato and grilled veggies.  The entire thing is hearty but not so full that you want to go back to your office and nap.  It does make a very filling lunch.  Next time you go to 51Fifteen, ask to be seated at the bar area, the service is still good, if not more attentive, get lunch at a discount, and enjoy good food.

5115 Westheimer Rd
inside Saks Fifth Ave
Houston, TX 77056

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Liberty Kitchen

So when searching for a brunch place, it was hard to find somewhere that opens early and are baby friendly.
We ended up at Liberty Kitchen in the Heights.
I got the Brisket Potato Hash.  Which you can see that this is a huge plate of food...
Let's see what's underneath the toasts... it has a salad, with arugula, there underneath the eggs are briskets, potato, cheese, onions and cabbage.  There's alot of food there.  I didn't even finish it all.  For the toast, I would recommend you ask the server for a little thing of bacon jam, you won't regret it.

Liberty Kitchen
1050 Studewood 
Houston, TX 77008

Monday, January 20, 2014

Desktop lunch - Cheesecake Factory

The nice thing about working in the Galleria is that you can get good food easily.  You don't have to go to the food court, and still get something decent for lunch.
Like you can spoil on that easy!  Of course the good thing about going to Cheesecake Factory is that their menu is so big that it will take you days to get tired of what they have.
I had the Skinnylicious Pear and Endive salad with chicken.  I will say that the combo of endive, pear, feta cheese and chicken together, dipped with the dressing is pretty darn good.  But they don't have enough pear or feta cheese.  Plenty of chicken though... So, if you want to get your money's worth on the protein, you do get it.  This is a huge salad, I didn't even get to finish it, there's so much of it.

Cheesecake Factory
5015 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Corner Table - Nom Nom Paleo book signing lunch

So, David has been eating Paleo for some time. When one of the cookbook authors were foing to be in town, naturally, he wanted to go and get his book signed. 
The book signing took place at Corner Table. Usually, with Corner Table these meet and greets includes lunch. But instead, they did the signing and lunch separate. And here's 4 items selected from the cookbook. 
I had the Fast Pho. It is essentially pho with no noodles because rice is not part of the diet, so neither would the rice noodle be in it. So basically beef soup. But the beef was top notch, great quality. 
This is their Paleo Blueberry Cobbler with coconut ice cream. They sustitute the flour with various gluten free ingredients and it was nice and warm. Combined with the ice cream it was nice going down. 

The place was small and didn't anticipate the amount of people going thru. I do admire Bruce Molzan to have dound a niche that Houston needed and hopefully capitalize on it. Aside from steakhouses, there's not many restaurant that offer Paleo alternatives, little to say a higher class cuisine. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nara - Ramen

So, yesterday I posted about all the dishes at Nara, today, I'm doing a special post on their Ramen.
Nara is a Korean & Japanese fusion place, so they would never claim that they are specialist in ramen.  Knowing all and well that Koreans borrow ramen from Japanese.  So, this is a good place to do a fusion.
This is the Spicy Oxtail Ramen, which even Chef Chang himself said they have to change the name because people tend to misunderstand what goes in it.  Yes, you saw shrimp, clams, and kimchi.
When Chef Chang saw our ramen arrived to the table, he said that he always thought the dish needed more kimchi because that's how they have it at their home.  Well, if that's how the chef eats, why would I argue otherwise.  So he brought us some fresh kimchi, and he's right, you put this into your noodle and soup, it is delectably good.  If they don't offer it, ask for it.
 The soup is spicy, but not so hot that you need a glass of water next to you at all time.  As a matter of fact, it's nice and full and definitely a welcome comfort soup in the cold weather.  And yes, we added the kimchi, just didn't show you it.  

The noodles isn't as good as I had hope.  Since the rest of the dishes there are super fresh and well done.  The noodle is like the egg noodles you get from the store.  But I know the Chef's sister took him to make it.  So, sorry, I know it's insulting to say what I said, but it's true.  I know the chef is going to fine tune some dishes and this is on the list, so maybe it'll be different when I go back, but for now, the dish is good for the soup, seafood, and kimchi.

Nara Houston
Inside West Ave.
2800 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098

Monday, January 13, 2014


Today's post, alot of the photos are courtesy of Juliana Chan... thank you for sharing your awesome pictures when I was too lazy to turn on the flash.  On to the post!
So, both of us have been talking about going to Nara for some time, finally got a free chance to go check it out.
It occupies the old Katsuya spot in West Ave.  Unlike it's predecessor, the space is still chic but much more open, and welcoming, than shi-shi stuffy.
When we sat down, the only non-alcoholic specialty drink that was available was Mango Limeade.  It was very refreshing, not too sweet and not too fizzy, definitely a good try.
Per our server's recommendation, we tried the Spicy Pig Steam Bun.  It's not at all spicy, as a matter of fact, the seasoning was so good, that I dare say finger licking good.
Chef Donald Chang was making the round, saw us taking pictures left and right and decided to jump in... sorry about the thumb in the corner. 
What did he post in front of?  It was the Red Snapper with 4 types of tobiko caviar, off the menu (special for the evening).  Fish is definitely fresh, and the spice that goes with the sashimi not at all spicy.
We ordered truffle fries, because my friend is a big fan.  To our surprise, it was shoe string size, which is fine, but it was super oily.  When the chef stopped by, I told him such, and he was saying that as a matter of fact they are re-vamping that to thicker size so that they can absorb more truffle oil.  

As a matter of fact, when I told him about it, he thought I work in the industry.  I told him no, just a foodie wannabe.  But he said that if I can pinpoint exactly what is wrong with food, I'm pretty close... I'm totally humble. But if you put some fries on your plate and you see oily marks, you'll say it's oily too, right?  He's totally a flatterer.  LOL.
We of course ordered the hot rock, we've seen tables upon tables ordering this, and we are super curious.  We are accustomed to Korean table BBQ, cooking on the rock does seem to bring some specialty to it.
It comes with small ball of rice, lettuce for wrapping, and a spicy bean paste, which was not at all spicy.  It's what I call a friendly spicy.
Here's the Texas Kobe beef... I'm not sure how that's qualified, but the beef is nice and juicy.
Here's my friend cooking, which we were making a mess.  Our server offered to cook it for us, and we figured that we can do it ourselves.  Until another server saw us making a mess, and he offered and we took him up on it.  Turns out, this is NOT how you do this... just let them do it for you.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
The finished product should look like this.  You put some paste and they also have this light brown sauce to go with it.  All the components together brings your taste buds to a joy.  Do it!
This is their open faced soup dumpling.  Does remind me alot of the Shanghainese Soup dumpling, except the soup is on top instead of inside.  And the bottom is pan fried, so they do suggest you eat them as soon as the dish hit the table.
Of course, we have to check out their sushi... This is the scallop, and it's super smooth and fresh, worth every penny.
I did not try this, but this is their Uni Shooter.  It has tobiko rimmed the glass, sake, uni, and masago mousse.  They do get generous with the sake, I will say.  Wonder how it all goes together?
This is their sweet shrimp sushi.  It's nicely cook, and for the presentation, they fried the shrimp heads and put it on top a bed of rice.  Suppose if you want to, you can try eating that... but I'll pass.
This is the Salmon Truffle Roll.  It has salmon, cucumber, avocado, shrimp, and black truffle oil.  The truffle oil is so awesome that it brings a symphony to my mouth... highly recommend!
For dessert, we tried the green tea tiramisu, I will say there's not alot of green tea going on there, but the mascapone cheese mixed with the cakes does brings this harmony together.  It's not too heavy, you can still move around after you top off with this dessert.  
On our way out, he saw us and invited us to return, so I took the opportunity to take a proper photo with the chef.  He was super friendly, personable, and really took care of people.  I'll save the antidote for the next post, but just say that he really treat each guest there like someone at his house.  He socialize, joked, and chatted about food, and himself, and what goes well with what.  I learned alot.

Overall, I would say Nara can be compared to Uchi, where there's creativity and thoughtfulness went into these dishes.  Both do not claim that they are specializes in one cuisine, and specifically tell people that they are fusion.  So, you do need to bring an open mind to dinner.  Both made sure that whatever you ate, it's not going to bogg you down, and want to roll out of the door.  You leave there, feeling fulfilled but not so heavy that you want to crawl up in a ball and sleep it off.  While Nara lacks the super out-of-the-box creativity that Uchi has, his spins on Korean comfort food and Japanese cuisine shows that he knows his food inside out.  Tastebuds don't lie, and he does rely on that and his experience in the industry to bring him to this spot.  I see great things for Nara, and definitely will return.  And reservations are highly recommended.

Nara Houston
Inside West Ave
2800 Kirby Dr.
Houston, TX 77098