Thursday, January 28, 2016

Grand Lux Cafe

My friend was craving Grand Lux, so I obliged.  
It has been literally years since I was there.  And that's not me saying that but secretly go there and not post.  I literally just have not been there.  It's not easy to park there, it's always a wait during peak dining hour or not.  Plus, I can get alot similar food at Cheesecake Factory.
One thing you cannot get at Cheesecake Factory, is the Berry Fizz.  I think the drink is underrated.  It has strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blended with Sprite and soda, so it's not overly sweet or zesty.  It's a delicious find that I had when they first open, and this is still good.  However, for $6.50, drink sparingly.
We both ordered Chicken Parmesan.  The presentation left very little to be desired.  Thought they gave us a very generous slice of chicken, it's not unappetizing, just not pretty.  And you know what they say, you eat with your eyes.  It didn't taste bad but not great either.  The pasta didn't have enough sauce, just enough to show the color.  Needless to say, I just poked at mine and didn't eat it.  

Overall, it was disappointing, with the pretty decor and once good service, over time even the food looked tired.  That was just sad.  I can only hope their dessert didn't fall on the standard.  We didn't order any this time, but maybe one of these days I'll come back for the dessert.

Grand Lux Cafe
5000 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77056

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Willie G's Happy Hour

Was meeting a friend for her birthday happy hour.
It definitely has been a while since I was last there.  They changed up their Happy Hour menu quite a bit.  The prices too.  
Got my Midori Sour.  While I tasted the liquor, I was able to do 3 rounds and still not effected.  I'm usually 2 drinks max, but if I wasn't feeling it, I wonder how much alcohol vs. sweet and sour was in my drink.  It was a tad weak.
 Under advisement or strong recommendation, we got the deviled eggs.  It was not the deviled eggs I had pictured, but better.  The only thing was that there was a slice of pepper, I wasn't expecting that.  The yummy part was the top, where they had a fried piece of shrimp that is nice and crunchy, topped with this tomato jam, delish!
 The next bar fav was the Drummies.  It has chipotle BBQ Sauce with some blue cheese on top.  The bottom has cole slaw to balance out the thick sauce.  I felt better having some veggie in the mix.
This is fries with fried zucchini.  The zucchini has a little zest to them but I can definitely tasted the parmesan in there.  YUM! 
Of course, we cannot not order the shrimp. It's not on the Happy Hour menu, but they were doing it for us.  Ask your server nicely, they'll be happy to order it for you.   They are fresh, not fishy smell at all.  The sauce has a bunch of pepper in it, so super spicy, but eating it with the lemon juice is great too.  Definitely going back for the shrimp.  And next time, the Sammies!

I will say, their service is top notch.  They checked on us, but not hovering.  The nights when they block part of the bar, however, was a tad tough to get seats, they are hot commodities but Happy Hour goers don't mind it, since every server there are super friendly and aimed to pleased.

Willie G's
1605 Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


It's been a while since I've been back to Coppa.  
Can't believe the last time I was there was last summer... that was a while back.
Beautiful day for an Arnold Palmer, I just like how the 2 liquid suspends.  Kinda neat, and refreshing too.
Barrata was a new find from HRW last time I was there.  It was so delicious that I can mop up that sauce with anything.  For those who are not familiar, this is essentially a fried ball of risotto.  But for whatever reason, it taste more like potato than risotto to me.  Then they add this delicious marinara sauce with tons of parmesan.  Delicious.  If you are so adventurous, there's a copy cat recipe here.  Otherwise, having them make it is of course the best.
The whole reason for coming here... Rigatoni.  I love the salty flavor of the prosciutto mix with the parmesan cream.  This time however, the parmesan wasn't as flavorful as it was in the past.  This time it was just sauce.  That said, if you want to substitute the pasta with gluten free pasta, they do have an option for that.

Service is always great at Coppa.  The parking is not bad, you can find a free parking down the street, make sure you look at the posted signs.  The side of the building has some meter parking.  Or, if you part at the building with the residents, behind Cloud 10, the parking is usually a dollar for an hour.  Of course, valet is always ready for you.

Coppa Osteria
5210 Morningside Dr
Houston, TX 77005

Monday, January 25, 2016

Craft Burger Tasting event

I was invited to Craft Burger's Tasting event.
Check out their spiffy new truck.
Fully functioning and looks street ready.
They hosted a friends and family tasting, and everyone is taking advantage of the great deal.  Look at that spread!
 I got the Lamb Poutine.  Lamb gravy over hand cut fries with cheese curds with scallions.  Oh my goodness, it was soooooo good.  I cannot express how good they are in words, but it'd be a shame if you don't order it.  The lamb meat is fall off the fork good, and the 'gravy' wasn't took wet, and it's just right.  I liked the cheese ok, but I like the meat much much more.
 I liked the burger ok, not as much as the lamb poutine.  But there's something special about the burger.  Besides the meat quality, but there was something hidden in there.  Ready for it?!  It's the Smoked Tomato Jam.  You can really tasted it in the lettuce.  I know it sounds crazy, but how I tasted the lettuce from the meat, the cheese, and the fresh tomato, beats me.  But that is how the jam stood out.
 Last but not least, I got the milkshake.  This time I got the Banana Foster.  The milkshake really made you feel like you have fresh banana, there's some caramel in there, but not overpowering.  It is just right.

You can tell that they thought everything thru before putting it on the menu.  Chef Shannen & Shadi both not only put thoughts and tested everything and made sure that they top grade before sharing.  Let me tell you, though, their hard work is paying off.  Now, just need to follow them around town and see it for yourself. Follow them on their site.

Craft Burger

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dunkin' Donuts

I knew that Dunkin' Donuts has been in Houston a while, but I finally made my way there.
I totally missed their Munchkins.  I just love that you can mix and match.  You don't have to commit to a dozen if you don't want to.  And if you want a 100, they have a deal too.  It'd better be for a party.
I got chocolate, plain, and blueberry.  I liked that they have cake Munchkins, I love the texture, not too cakey and not too much icing.  At Shipley's they have tons of icing on the donut holes.  So I can appreciate that.  I see that they do fancy latte's too, but that's not my deal, black coffee with creme will do.

Dunkin' Donuts
5801 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Smash Burger

I know it's cold outside, but sometimes, it just calls for a milkshake.
It is hand spun Haagen Daaz Vanilla with chocolate syrup.  But it is still good.  Little one was slurping it up.
Got a Classic Smash.  One burger patty, American Cheese, Tomato, Lettuce, Onion, Ketchup.  Plus a side of fries.  I should've gotten the Smash Fries, because they're like crack addictive, but that said, these aren't shabby.  Little one chomp it all down too.

What I appreciate about Smash Burger is that their patty is fresh and you can taste that.  Their servers were super attentive and checked on us too.  You don't get that at Mickey Dee's.

Smash Burger
19227 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77094

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Cheese Course

I was in the Woodlands looking for a lunch spot and came across this.
Sure, I like cheese, why not?!
This is just a portion of their menu, the entire menu here.  They have a half soup, half sandwich combo for lunch, that's the one I went with.
I got the Mushroom & Brie Bisque.  Obviously, it has mushroom, brie & swiss cheese, potato, onion, chives.  Nice and hearty for a cold winter day.
Since I'm a Proscuitto fan, I got the sandwich of its namesake.  It has mozzarella, tomato slices, pesto, basil, balsamic vinegar.  The baguette is a gluten free baguette.  You can ask for that at the time of order.  

They do have some seating for dine in.  You basically order at the counter, they'll give you a number.  But seating is limited, don't be surprise if you have to wait.  They also have a small market area to buy cheese to go.  I saw that they even have events and tasting, wouldn't mind trying them out one of these days.

The Cheese Course
1501 Lake Robbins Drive
Suite 110
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Monday, January 18, 2016


Julia & I had a Mommies Night Out, and we picked Oka.
It is situated next to Caracol.  You can self park at the garage and they will validate for you.
Sorry for the sideway picture.  We got Edamame with Garlic Chili, which for a weakling like me, it was spicy just enough.  I was craving for vegetable tempura, so ordered one of those too.
Heard alot of great things about the Tuna Tower, came with yucca chips.
It has a layer of crabmeat, avocado, massago, spicy tuna, and a quail egg with caviar.  The mix is actually very delicious.  You do need to mix the egg yolk through and through though.
This is the Mango Sake, it's slices of salmon wrapped the thinly sliced mango, topped with caviar and little bit of oil for taste.  Pretty good, but definitely not filling, need more!
Also heard alot about their wagyu, the piece I got, unfortunately was a bit too chewy, which was unusual.  Luckily, the manager on duty, Linh, saw that and corrected the situation promptly.
We also ordered the miso pork belly with the steamed buns and plum sauce.  I felt like I'm eating duck with those assortments, but the pork belly by itself is super delicious.  Which they were thicker slices.  YUM!
I heard great things about their uni, and curious about the quail egg and scallop, so I ordered away!  The uni was surprisingly fresh, and I was so happy to have eaten that, wish it's not so expensive and order more.  The quail egg on top of chopped scallop was unique, but didn't do anything for me.  
This is what the manager did for us to make up for the chewy wagyu.  But this is no simple unagi.  There is a small piece of fois gras on top of the unagi with truffle oil.  Boy, was it delicious.  Granted, you put the right amount of truffle oil on anything, I would eat it, and lick the plate.  YUM!  Now, I really wished that I ordered the fois gras.
To end the night, we got a green tea cheesecake, that came with a dollop of whip cream and ice cream and fruit compote.  I will say that the cake was a little dry, and the ice cream and whip cream was needed to balance things out.  

Overall, our dining experience weren't bad at Oka.  I do worry that they don't generate enough to stay in business.  We were there during Happy Hour (which is 3-6 Monday - Friday), and hardly anyone was taking advantage of it.  Most of our dishes were at discount, and they are not bad at all.  The service is excellent, they are not over crowding you, and still making sure we are doing ok.  The manager is a foodie type of guy, and so he was excited to do pairing of sorts.  So, next time, definitely check with him before ordering.

From what I understand the owner is very particular with the quality of food, the decor, and wanted to wait for the sign put up on the building before promoting.  Now that they're ready, they need more people to stop in and take advantage of the deals and the fresh food they have to offer here.  Like I was mentioned before, you can self park in the garage and remember to bring your ticket.  They will be glad to validate.  Just hope that they kept going.

Oka Uptown
2200 Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Toni Rivard macaron

When we were walking around Northpark Mall, we were checking out the ducks and the turtles.  Yes, they do have indoor ducks and turtles living inside the mall.  I looked up and saw this!
Macarons?  Yes, please!!!
I was kinda disappointed that with big word like Macarons prominently displayed on the background, I'd expected tons of macarons.  Sadly, that day, all we saw was one kind of macaron, and various types of cakeballs.  I know they have Whoopie Pies too, but didn't see anything else.  

That said, the macaron was good, fresh, did not seem like it'll crack in first bite, so I decided to buy a couple.  Turns out, they are huge compare to most macs we've had.  For $2 a piece, I guess it's ok.  Wish they had more flavors next time.

Toni Rivard
8687 North Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75206

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ranch 99 Dim Sum

While we were in Dallas, we had to grab a quick breakfast, and the only thing that opens and no wait was Ranch 99, yes the supermarket.
Here,  in clockwise, we have turnip cake, chicken sticky rice wrapped in leaves, shu mai & har gow, and steam ribs.  Not pictured: steamed soy milk and congee.
You can see how much meat and rice wrapped up in a pouch.  

They have the counter by the side, and besides dim sum, they also have noodles and rice dishes too.  All for very reasonable price.  Not to mention they are open early, it tastes good too.  

It's a very surreal thing, since I grew up in that part of Dallas.  Back then, it was mostly fields, literally, and where this Ranch 99 was located, it was an Albertson back in the early 90s, which sad to say, it's been 20 years ago.  Now, it's a mini Chinatown, an extension of the one in Richardson.  Apparently since Albertson closed the store, the rest of the stores in the strip center pulled out as well.  Luckily, an anchor store like Ranch 99 went in, which brought in other Chinese restaurants and stores.  

Ranch 99
131 Spring Creek Parkway
Plano, TX 75023

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Company Cafe

Another place we went to in Dallas was Company Cafe. 
The look and feel was entirely different than the last time we went.  Well, duh, they moved down the street as opposed to the original cafe area.  No wonder.  Service and food, however, has not changed, but I love the extra parking in the back of the building very much.
I got the BBQ pork sandwich on gluten free buns.  Look like they made their pickles, they're nice and crispy.  The BBQ sauce is nice and sweet.  I will say though, towards the end, I was frustrated with the bun and just ate the pulled pork by itself, which is just as good.

My dad got the fish and chips and are very decent.  Not too greasy and fish is not full of batter.  Saturday brunch was easy to get a seat, we tried to go back on Sunday for brunch, however, no such luck.  It was packed with people with at least 40 mins wait.  So, plan early kids.

Company Cafe
2104 Greenville Ave
Dallas, TX 75206

Monday, January 11, 2016

Origin Kitchen & Bar

So, we were in Dallas and David's friends were recommending Origin.
This is a super family friendly restaurant, so with little ones, you can get them some healthy food and you can also get some decent food yourself.
Yep, we feed our child fries.  It's not too salty, and little one gobbled them up.
I got the Cornish Game Hen, not too gamey.  The bottom has rice, lentil, almond, raisins and these little sprouts.  Frankly, I love the hen alot, it's not too dry, skin is a bit crispy but not liked fried or anything.  The rice mix, however, not so much.  It was super dried.  I liked the almond and raisins put in there, but the entire mix was dried.  I basically just had the hen and gave up on the bottom part.
Was talked into the dessert.  When our server was telling us about a fruit infused custard, we didn't quite know what that meant, until we got it.  It has the fruit paste in the custard and they still put that sugar for you to crack on top, but they also have the same fruit paste as well.  So, when you dig in, you get the fruit paste on top, sugar, custard, and fruit in one bite.  It's nice, unusual, but nice.  Not too sugary.

Parking is plenty, depends on the hour, you may have to fight parking with the nearby shops or restaurant, but it's not horrible.  Easy to get to, definitely go back!

Origin Kitchen & Bar
4438 McKinney Ave
Ste 150
Houston, TX 75205

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

La Madeline's breakfast

Liked to come into La Madeline's for a quick breakfast.  You know the eggs aren't fake and you got bacon.  Like BACON!  This time I ordered the French Breakfast, it comes with eggs, bacon, potato galette (yum!) and croissant.  Honestly, that's alot of food.  I had to take the croissant to go.  It can be a breakfast sandwich with the hash brown on the side.... basically it's tons of food.  Bang for the buck for sure.

La Madeline's
6205 Kirby 
Houston, TX 

Gogo Ice

Needed a quick Boba Ice fix.
As you can see, besides the normal tea or coffee with tapioca, they can do various mix and match. 
I got the Taro Milk tea, the purpose didn't show up very well.  But it's not too sweet and the tapioca was just chewy enough.  I liked the tapioca not too mushy but still have some elasticity and bouncy.  For $3.25 you get the drink and they give you a punch card too.  Buy 10 and get one free.  They also have shaved ice too, definitely need to try that next.

Gogo Ice
9188 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX