Thursday, December 29, 2016

Happy New Year

Just want to take a moment to wish you all a Happy New Year.  May your year brings you love, joy, and happiness however, wherever they come.  

Here's to you, 2016.  It's been a tough start and a decent end, but I'm ready for 2017.  May awesome food and drink comes our way!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Outback Steakhouse

Per my mom's request, she wanted to go to Outback, since she hasn't been for many years.
I, myself, haven't been back for many years either.  There's just too many good places in town that I can easily get to.
I liked our drink server, Lucky.  He was friendly, personable and attentive, all characteristic a server should have.  He brought us our warm bread, yum!
Oh, Bloomin' Onion, how I missed thee.  It is like crack, I can sit there and eat the whole thing by myself.  Too good. 
Good thing I filled myself up with the onion.  This salad, they offer to put the dressing on the side and this is what I got.  How appetizing... not!  I didn't know if it's sludge or mud or what is it.  The steak was decent, the salad ... well, it's a salad.  So I tried to dip it, it tasted good, but cannot imagine pouring that on food.  I just gave up, and had meat and salad instead.  

Lunch hour on a weekend is actually very tamed here.  So much so that the server is also the hostess, also the bartender, and be on the phone too.  Like I said, we liked our first server, he was good.  It's a slow day, guess I shouldn't be so picky.

Outback Steakhouse
8731 W. Loop S.
Houston, TX 77096

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

NAO Ramen House

Heard about a new ramen joint in the Rice Village, it's too close not to go give them a shot.
It was in the formerly known as 55 Bar, as a matter of fact, there are still some piece of the bar still in place.  Such as the patio/biergarten, the bar area itself.
Thought I would give their bao a try.  Got the Pork Loin bao which has shredded carrots, pickled onions with the pork.  Sadly, the pork was a tad dried out, and the bao you can tell was defrosted as oppose to house made and steamed, so it was stiff in some part of the bao and soft in others. 
Here's the ramen.  It looked good, and it pretty much ends there.  Actually, take that back, they did the egg well.  The soup wasn't very flavorful, the meat was chewy, and the noodle was only so-so.  It's hard after having awesome noodle AND soup at Agu and then try to have noodles that are subpar, it has a lot of room for improvement in soup, taste, and how to make it all harmonious.  Now granted, in the area, they don't have any competition.  The closest noodle place is over at Heights/Washington or Midtown area, so it will succeed despite the food wasn't that great.  

The staff were pushing the drinks a lot, so that tells me they haven't shake of their bar persona going into the ramen venture.  It's kinda disappointing, since I frequent Rice Village often, was hoping this would be a great option.  Sadly, I will come with friends if they requested, but I wouldn't do it on my own.

Nao Ramen House
5510 Morningside
Ste 120
Houston, TX 77005

Monday, December 26, 2016

P F Chang's

Was here at P.F. Chang's for a work's holiday party...
... the location in Clear Lake has a private room on the side for a decent size party.  We were able to fit about 22 people with room to spare.
This time I got the Chang's Lobster and Shrimp rice.  Obviously it has lobster, a whole lobster tail, shrimps, mushroom, egg, shallot, and all mixed it up for fried rice style.  The seafood were salted and fried a bit, so it's nice and crunchy and with a bit of savory salt to it.  Nice and yummy.  So glad I picked something else to try instead of my 'usual'.  

For a big party, it's tough, when most of the servers aren't really experienced with serving a large group.  Would hope that they get some experience and do better next time.  It's different when you dine at a sophisticated chain in the suburb vs. in the city.  The servers in the City have many a training ground, but the suburb kids are that, kids and this may be their second or third job.  Hope this is a good learning experience to improve upon for the brand.

P.F. Chang's
1454 W. Bay Area Blvd
Friendswood, TX 77546

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Jerry Built

Grab a late lunch/early dinner.
Staff were all poised and ready for the crowd to visit.
Got the Chili Dog, and it was just right not too messy, but tasted fresh.  It was good too, but I appreciated the freshness of the dog.  It was way too much fries, ended up having to box it up.  But it was a good quick pick me up.

Jerry Built
3501 W. Holcomb St
Houston, TX 77025

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Arthur Ave

Finally got a chance to meet up with my friend Joanne.
Driven by but never been to Arthur Ave and heard a few things about it, so my interest was peaked.
Got a yummy Cesar Salad, it has real anchovies on them.  I haven't had a decent anchovy Cesar Salad was at Provision.
This is the 187th Street Pizza... it has mushroom, prosciutto, ricotta, parmesan, and arugula.  It is super yummy and delicious.  Just because I love prosciutto.  LOL.
Ordered the Happy Hour portion of spaghetti and meatball.  The meatball is actually pretty packed in there, the pasta is fresh, you can tell they homemade that one.  The sauce is tasty but not clumpy.  Truly a nice balance of meat to pasta ratio.  Not too heavy, and didn't feel like I have to be wheeled out of there.  I totally dig that.

There's parking at the lot next to the building or you can take advantage of valet.  When the weather was nicer, you can sit at the patio.  And as fancy as the decor is, this is totally a family friendly place. I mean, how can it not be with the yummy pasta and pizza.  They do have a backroom for private parties if necessary.  But there are big booths for gatherings too.

We were there just in time for Happy Hour, and sitting at the bar it's pretty good.  You get tentative service, when it's about time up, they come by to remind you for last call.  I always enjoyed sitting by the bar.  

Arthur Ave
1111 B Studewood St
by 11th St
Houston, TX 77008

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Honey Art Cafe

Went to check out a new cafe.
Brand spanking new during grand opening...
Cute table decor, love the details.
Beautiful wall.  Got a green tea latte, it's a little heavy handed on the matcha, or wasn't mixed very well.
Chocolate mousse cake.  Looks great, but that stops there.  The cake was frozen, and I think they didn't anticipate grand opening, they will have tons of people, and did not defrost enough.  I basically was able to eat the bottom part of the cake, and that's about it.

The space is cute, beautiful artwork.  Seating is wide, conducive to art classes, which is part of their theme, food and art combined.  They also have a back room for reception and lecture.  Sadly, I think the grand opening weekend was too ambitious than anticipated.  I guess they didn't realized that their friends, art people, and foodie are all anxious to check them out.  An order for tea and cake (as above) took more than 30 mins.  There was not enough seating to demonstrate the art aspect of the cafe service, as a matter of fact, it was taking up a table that cannot be turned over.  They had a lector at the back talking about the progression of animation, and I recognize that they may invited a friend to do it, but the material was not enticing for folks who are slightly interested to join in.  As a matter of fact, if it's not because they have the tables in the back, the few folks sitting there would not have been there.  They cared more for their food than the lecture.  I did later see that the owners do recognize the short fall, they were short handed, grabbed friends to step in, and it was not great and they saw that.  I hope that they'll improve over time and be less disorganize.  It's a good concept and would like to see them succeed.  They already have a odd spot to begin with, it's not easy to park in their location of Shepherd & Richmond, let's hope the food and service improve to make up for it.

Honey Art Cafe
3516 Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77098

Monday, December 19, 2016

Raclette Dinner

Been seeing Raclette dinner making a come back lately.
My friend Julia found Kindli Haus.  
If you can get 8 people together, they will do a raclette dinner for you.  Each person $49 not including tax and gratuity.
Starter, we have appetizers, bread, cheese, 2 types of cold cut.  All delicious!
Light spinach salad, yummy dressing, not too empowering but gives the leaves flavors it needed.  I cleaned up the whole plate.
photo courtesy: Julie Fehl

We started with veggies, grilled veggies, teppanyaki style.   Not shown, we also have mini pork sausages, bacon, and pork tenderloin.  You mix the tenderloin with 3 types of sauces, banana curry with pineapple (interesting of sweet and spice), mustard sauce (definitely homemade and has a kick), horseradish (super yummy with the pork and everything else), and a cherry ketchup sauce.
photo courtesy: Julia Solway

It came with White Asparagus, which I don't get to have very often.  
photo courtesy: Julia Solway

The ooey gooey melted cheese on potatoes, YUMO!
video courtesy: Julia Solway

Enjoy, the cheesy goodness of the melted cheese on food.
For dessert, we have a raspberry linzer torte.  Not too heavy on a meal, yummy light buttercream to go with it.  Not too much sugar on the cream, with a not too sweet torte, together makes a great balance.

It was a neat experience, we had 8 mom friends to do this, 2 of which have had raclette before, so they were able to be ringers for the rest of us newbies.  The place is small, which is usually when they do their pastry sell on Saturdays, but was able to squeeze in the table for us.  Super cute decor.  Parking is not exactly easy, but this is a fun experience that we don't usually get in Houston.  Definitely worth a try if you can get 8 people to go.  Don't forget it's BYOB, we each brought a few bottles of wine and sodas, and only have to take one home, so I call it a success.  Good friends, good food, isn't that what every holidays should have?!

Kindli House
4525 N. Main Street
Houston, TX 77009

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Went to Rice Village to grab a quick dinner.
Been a while since I was at NAM, but for something quick and good, this is the place to go.
They have a little bit of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese.  Here, I got Thai Iced tea, nice and sweet, but be careful not to order it so late, it has lots of caffeine.
Beef Satay - nice prime meat, grilled with peanut and scallion finish, take some of that veggie too, it's good for balancing meat and veggie out.
I got the Grilled Pork Vermicelli bowl, which is bun thit nuong in Vietnamese.  It has vermicelli, which the NAM version is thicker for some reason.  Sprouts, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, pork, peanut and scallion, with fish sauce pending to be poured in and mix.  It's delicious, love the pork not chewy,  nicely grilled, and mixed it all up, it's nice and balanced.  Let me tell you, my tummy loved it!

Noodles and More
2512 Rice Blvd
Houston, TX 77005

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

House of Bowls

Went back to House of Bowls for lunch.
On weekend, you're really trying your luck at any given prime meal time.  Some weird reason, big parties gets seated first because they have big tables open, and yet for one or two diners have to wait a bit.  Go figure.
Got a mix of coffee & milk tea.  It can stand to add a bit of sweetener which is usually sugar syrup.
For appetizer, I got the fish cake shaped like little balls.... short name: fish balls.  
Was in the mood of Chinese Sausage fried rice.  That is dried sausage, seasoned, smoked and hung dry sausage, usually pack in the taste and calories.  It is usually salty already, so you do a fried rice, not much more soy sauce or salt is needed.
Got the stir fried Yi Mein again.  Just nostalgic for comfort food, true to Hong Kong and that region.  I grew up eating that, literally every weekend.  There's this restaurant that my dad likes to go every weekend, which was across from my school.  It was tiny, but they have a loft/second floor, with a few tables, and he would order this dish, and I would sit there and finish it.  Food just doing what food does, bring good taste and good memory.

House of Bowls
6650 Corporate Dr
Houston, TX 77036

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mkt Bar

Went to catch dinner before a show at Mkt Bar.
I've been to the Phoenician market, but truthfully have never sat at Mkt Bar proper for a meal.
Pretty good menu, a little bit for everyone.  I started with a glass of Moscato d'Asti.
Yummy plantain chips with chimichurri and mango salsa.  The salsa is actually pretty tasty, so I was munching on that because of the dips.  Yummo!
On the menu, the Lamb taco jumped out at me, so figured it cannot go wrong.  Well, bits of the lamb were chewier than others.  To me, it's basically a lamb gyro but with tortilla instead of pita.  Don't get me wrong just as filling, as a matter of fact, the second one I treated it liked a salad, because just don't have room for both.

As far as service goes, they are pretty attentive, except if you sit at the side where some seats were shared with other patrons from the grocery part of the store instead of the restaurant.  That to me seems to be an overflow.  They do try to stop by and check on us, I'll give them that, but since we're out of sight, easily out of mind.  Luckily, the food made up for it.  Can't wait to go back.

If you're hesitant because of the parking, as patron of the restaurant, you can to park at the garage at the designated spots for free.  Or, do what we do, park elsewhere, and take a nice stroll.

Mkt Bar
1001 Austin Street
Houston, TX 77010

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kuen Noodles House

Went back to Kuen Noodle House
They have something new...
No, not the grass jelly drink, look at the photo closely....
You see an assistant chef there?  Well, I was trying to show you the Master is pulling the noodles with his mad skillz
Ordered an appetizer of the lamb, it was a tad dry, the spice is just right, just too chewy on the meat.
The stewed beef ramen.  The soup is nice and light, the beef has indeed been stewed for a while, nice, flavorful and soft.  You basically touch it with chopsticks and it falls apart.  The noodle, well, I saw him pull it while I'm sitting there, so I know it's fresh.

The service tries hard, but this is still a mom and pop shop.  They care for the front and the back, and try to run with some synchrony.  It has been smoother than last time I visited, and they seemed to notice their shortfall and try to work on them.

Don't get Kuen Noodles House mix up with Kuen Noodles Soup which is down the street.  Same technique, but different folks.

Kuen Noodles House
9140A Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036

Thursday, December 8, 2016

PopUp Coffee Stop (PUCS)

Been meaning to catch PUCS...
...luckily, they were waiting just outside of an event I was at.  Easy peasy.  

This is Iced Mocha-licious, which is Chocolate Cashew cream, chocolate syrup, coconut cream, espresso, and milk.  I can barely taste the coconut cream, but I can taste the chocolate part.  It does have a nice kick to it.  $4.45 is not much different than Starbucks, but definitely worth supporting small business.

Pop Up Coffee Stop (PUCS)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

House of Pies

Not common that I go to House of Pies for dinner.
But when you're hungry in odd hours at night, best place to go is House of Pies.
I got chicken strips to start.  They weren't bad, not dry.  I do like dipping them into the ranch dressing though. 
Actually the chicken was to go with my fully loaded spud, but it was just as good separated.  For a quick meal, this is not bad.  It's under $10 because the chicken strips were add on to my spud.  

Not shown: got a slice of Banana Bavarian to go.  I ordered it, but my eyes were too big for my stomach, and ended up taking it home.  But good nonetheless. 

House of Pies
3112 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77098