Monday, April 24, 2017

Riel

Went to Riel with some friends for dinner...
Somehow, all in the dinner party had some anticipation of American French fusion cuisine, but at first glance at the menu, we were scratching our heads.
 If anything it's more Gulf Coast, Japanese fusion, with no trace of French.
 They have a full bar, so whatever your poison, they probably have.  They also have a very creative mixology menu...
 Heard a lot about the carrots, so got one to try.  They have obviously carrots, cardamom honey, those powder you see are hazelnuts, there's raisin in there.  It was ok... not as great as lot of people spoke of.
 Tempura Cauliflower with kimchi hot sauce, pretty good, not too heavy or too much batter.  I would get it again.
 Gulf Fish Karaage, which was better than it sounded.  It was very much fish nuggets... 
 Got the oyster from Alabama, which was not grainy and pretty smooth with pickled granita in the mix.  Not too heavy-handed, pretty nice going down.
 This is the Snapper Crudo, which has prosecco, citrus (which makes it that much fresher), citrus of sorts and fennel.  I'd get this again.
 Duck breast with bok choy, turnip (it was a tad hard), sweet potato pureed.  This was pretty good, good enough for us to get another order.  It was well done, flavored well and not at all dried... well done dish!
 Gulf Shrimp with kale chip, hot sauce, it was amazing fresh and huge.  I don't mind getting this one again.
 There were only 2 desserts that night, so we got both to share.  This is the Nanaimo Cake, which was a flourless brownie, nuts, with coconut ice cream.  Sadly, the ice cream was good, the cake was too thick even for a sweet tooth like me.  It was harder than it looks... was hoping for something nice and easy to cut and share.  The layers in between the cream is hard.
 Sticky Toffee Pudding... frankly, I rarely meet any sticky toffee pudding that I do not like.  That said, this one was exceptional.  It has obviously the pudding with fois gras torchon, and of course the toffee.  OMG, the warm toffee with a piece of the pudding was delicious... good for your soul and yummy for your tummy.  I'd get this one again.  

Overall, our server was green, luckily the manager as close by to educate us and introduce the dishes. Our second order of duck wasn't as good as the first, not sure how to explain that.  That said, as you can see the dishes are small, so it really is suitable for tapas style.  Order and share, the prices are reasonable for the quality of food.  That said, not everyone of the dishes are winners.  So, as they change their menu on a regular basis, you can come back and try another dish.  

Even though they have plenty of parking, they pretty much forces you to valet.  Bring change.  If you are lucky to park down the street in the neighborhood, it is a nice and safe neighborhood, no worries if you have to walk a bit.  This place was formerly House of Te, years ago, so I'm familiar with the building and the space.  They decked it up and modernized it.  It does give the seen or be seen feeling, even though that's not what they're aiming for, the audience are turning out to be that way.  Either way, if you decided to come, make sure you make a reservation, tables are not easy to come by.

Riel
1927 Fairview St
Houston, TX 77019
832-831-9109
https://www.rielhtx.com


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Tore Ore

After doing the iFly with a co-worker, decided to grab some Korean food.  It's right down the exit anyway.
 Nothing looked appealing but you know what does? Kimchi Fries... yum!
 But first, let's get me a bubble tea... yum!
Kimchi fries.  This is fully loaded, super filling.  Not just fries, there's kimchi, and bulgogi meat on there.  So think of it as meat, potato, and veggie, it's practically a full meal.  It has hot sauce and mayo on top.  It's super yummy and addictive.  And for a weakling like me who can't handle spicy food, this is one that I would keep eating.

The Tore Ore
inside H-Mart
1302 Blalock Rd
Houston, TX  77055

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Asahi

I often think the Asahi is way overlooked because they are at the end of the shopping center.  But on weekend, they have such decent Happy Hour that it's hard to resist.
 For $6, you technically get 6 pieces of sashimi, or 3 big ones.  I got mackerel, Tuna, Yellowtail, and salmon.  Pretty decent.
 Vegetable Tempura, let's face it, I really wanted the zucchini and the sweet potato... the rest are bonus.  Happy Hour price $3
 Agadashi Tofu, but unusual that they don't have the ponzu sauce already in the bowl.  That's ok, I don't mind it because sometimes as you work your way down to the bowl, the bottom squares gets super soggy.  Happy Hour price $3
I got an eel hand roll to top it off.  Normal price $4.50.

So, overall, since it's all Happy Hour price, the damage wasn't bad at all.  Lots of folks live nearby seems to be regulars here.  My deal is that the food isn't bad and the price is good.  I'd come back for drinking and munching any time.

Asahi Sushi
8236 Kirby Dr
#200
Houston, TX 77054
713-664-7686
http://asahisushi.net/en/

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Yauatcha

Finally got to go to the highly anticipated Yauatcha
 Tons of hype for this Michelin star restaurant, and can't wait to experience it myself.  By the way, the place is pronounced Yu-Waht-cha
 Pretty matching menu, that matches the decor very nicely.  Classy and hip.
 My friend Julie got the Grape Cha, and that looked pretty, so figured, why not?!  It has grapes, lime, jasmine tea, and comes with a pretty flower to boot.  Of course, we ordered regular jasmine tea as well.
 Venison Puff, it really tasted like cha shu inside, not too gamey.  The puff itself is worthy for a try.
 Bak Choy stir fry with garlic, needed some veggie to balance things out.
 XO Scallop Dumpling.  That is caviar on top of the scallop, but can't really tell where the XO sauce went.  Hmm....
 Xiao Long Bao - pork soup dumpling.  Pretty tasty, wouldn't mind having more of this one.
 Steamed pork ribs, it's not bad but to be honest, can't taste the black bean at all.
 This has got to be the cutest, it's duck pumpkin puff, which shapes like a mini pumpkin, just too adorable.  The taste is ok, I was just grateful the duck is not dry.
 Crispy Duck Roll, conversely, this was a tad dry for my taste.  
 Second cutest dish, prawn and zucchini dumpling.  Stamped like a carrot, too cute.
 Steamed pork bun, much like what you get in Chinatown.  Actually, smaller by size.
 Cha Siu (pork) Cheung Fun - Cheung Fun is a rice noodle, but damn good with soy sauce.
 This is unique.  This is prawn and crispy beancurd cheung fund, it very much reminded me of Zha Liang, which is a Cantonese dish, where they put fried dough inside the rice noodle and it lends to be crispy with the soft noodle over it.  Instead here, they use bean curd. 
 This is Morel Crystal Dumpling, which has filling of mushroom and vegetable.
 Of course have to save room for dessert.  From top: Tropical Dome has hint of passionfruit and pineapple (which I was very surprised how much I like it).  Middle: Red Fruits Mascarpone, which has strawberry & raspberry compote, a bit of pistachio and mascarpone, nice and yummy.  Then the Chocolate Pebble, which is bigger than a pebble.  It has a very dense brownie and a pretty shell over it.  Sadly, even a chocolate like me can't handle how rich it was.
 MUST show you the array of macarons they have here.... oooh pretty!
And the other dessert, which are work of art themselves.  Hopefully next time I'll get to try the rest.

Basically, this restaurant has so much hype that when they announced opening date, and we tried to make a reservation, it was 2 weeks out.  So, while this is still new, make a reservation.  We went on a weekday, and it was crowded at lunch.  

This is really a place made for either 3 or parties of 3, all the dishes came in 3s, so for our party of five, either we cut things up or double up the order.  For the items we weren't too sure of, we cut and for the popular or common ones, we doubled up.  

So, there are two ways people are looking at this.  That is: this is a Michelin Star restaurant, the entire  North America continent, there's only one.  The other US one is located in Hawaii, what a great chance to experience this.  The other is that, well, it's dim sum, you're paying $7, $9, or $16 for dishes you get for $2 - 3 per dish in Chinatown.  Are they truly that great?  Well, the truth is, some dishes they are better and done very well.  The rest you're paying for the decor and the five star service that you don't get a Chinatown dim sum.  I think you should experience it because it is a rare place.  Is it going to replace my dim sum place?  Probably not.

Yauatcha
5045 Wesheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77056
713-357-7588
http://www.yauatcha.com/houston/

Monday, April 17, 2017

Xochi

Had planned on meeting up with a friend downtown for dinner.  Since I had a tough day, all the more reason to go.
 I've heard a lot about Xochi, and since it's done by Hugo Ortega, owner of Hugo's, it peaked my curiosity.
 Munchy chips to start, nice and warm, and addictive... make sure you save room for the main course.
 Sorry for the sideway pictures, couldn't fix it for some reason.  But this is the Atun, which is tuna seared, jicama, the center brain looking thing is mangosteen, which is nice and sweet.  there's also slices of citrus on there.  If you put the tuna, fruit, jicama, and the mole sauce in one bite, you'll find it very divine.  
 A lot of Yelpers were bragging on the braised cheeks, figured, why the heck not?!  I will say, this is better shared than have alone.  It does get heavy and it is thick.  However, the meat is super nice and moist.  You stick your fork in it, and it just falls apart on its own.  Very nice!
This is recommended by the server, and it is Elote Cremoso, which is sweet creamy corn and rice, but the consistency came out more like risotto and cheesy than corn flavored.  It's a nice balance with the braised cheeks.  I will say, as good as that is, it too will fill you up.  Best shared and not horde.
Last but not least, the dessert, had to save room for that.  Heard a great deal of their chocolate menu, how can you not, if you're a chocoholic!  If there's 2 of you, they do recommend the table side hot chocolate, which they make in front of you.  Instead, I got the Cremes de Chocolate, which is a thick chocolate pudding, with sponge cake, peanut powder and did you see this awesome chocolate branch?  So cool, we didn't want to break it apart, but had to try it out.  So good.  It was not heavy, doesn't put you over the top, but provided a sweet ending to the evening.

Just so you know, make sure you make a reservation, as you don't know what event downtown might take up the entire restaurant.  Bar service was great, so don't get discourage if you don't get a table.  There are 2 entrances, one thru the hotel, and the other is street side facing Discovery Green.  If you do drive down there, tell the valet, so they give you a special ticket, and parking there is $6.  The hotel is nice, and you can walk to Discovery Green.

Xochi
(inside Marriott)
1777 Walker Street
Suite A
Houston, TX 77010
713-400-3330
http://www.xochihouston.com/

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pei Wei

Went to lunch with some colleagues in Beaumont, Texas.
 Since we were limited on time and trying to avoid traffic on the road, figured Pei Wei is nice and quick.  A little something for everyone.  Got a side of egg roll to start.  So, bad for you, but tastes so good... cannot resist.
At least I got tofu for the entree would that work?  This is the tofu with the Sesame style, got scallion, bell pepper, onion, garlic, citrus glaze sauce which is yummy with the fried rice.  I totally cannot finish it, and had to take half home, mind you, this is already the small portion... So full they have to roll me out.

Pei Wei
3050 Dowlen St
Beaumont, TX 77706
409-866-0620
https://www.peiwei.com/texas/177-beaumont

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Soma

Back to Soma for weekend Happy Hour, and boy do I love their Happy Hour.
On weekend lunch time, easy to get parking, quick service and quick food.  Perfect for a hungry diner.
Figured I'd get an Arnold Palmer, then the server was asking if I'd want that with Green Tea or regular tea.  Hmm, that's a thought, I've never done the mix with green tea before.  Why not?! 
Crazy Irishman, per the server's recommendation, did not do the flash fried, and just had it raw.  It has salmon, tuna, spicy aioli, and caviar on top.  Not too heavy, worked out just fine.
Mini Destiny: Tuna, Salmon, and Flounder... the Salmon and Tuna were particularly fresh that day.  Yummo!
Spicy Tuna Roll - great as always.
Unagi Roll - was kinda expecting a hand roll, but this worked out too.

Needless to say, I did not have dinner this meal.  But let me tell you, Happy Hour on weekend is totally worth it.  I felt like I really ate a ton for next to nothing.  Not to mention you get super great service and my server kept telling me different combo of rolls to try.  That's on my list for the next visit, for sure!

Soma Sushi
4820 Washington Ave
Houston, TX 77007
713-861-2726
https://www.somasushi.com/happyhour