Category Archives: Rating: 8

Brio Tuscan Grille

Brio Tuscan Grille

3029 Kirby Drive

Houston, TX 77098

(713) 528-8200

www.brioitalian.com

Rating: 8

He ate: I didn’t hate this place but I didn’t love it either. It’s not a place I would ever suggest going, but if someone else did I wouldn’t object to it. I know they’re new but every time I ordered something our waiter would be like “Which one? Wait, point it out to me.” I mean, how do you not know your menu? Even though the atmosphere was kind of cheesy, I really liked this place. It’s comforting food and you know exactly what you’re going to get…and it’s probably going to be better than what you expect.

She ate: Brio…a couple of notches above Macaroni Grille, but several notches below Coppa and Michelangelo’s.  I just don’t really see why you would ever come here when there are other much better Italian restaurants for about the same price in the same area. In the case of Brio, you can pretty much tell the level of the food by the ambiance and interior of the restaurant alone. Those bunched up 80s drapes…yeah. Even though our waiter wasn’t super experienced, he did make good suggestions about the appetizers and he was really nice in general.

Image

We settled on the 2008 Fattoria Del Cerro Montepulciano:

Image

He ate: They were super nice and allowed us to try two different wines even though one of them was sold only by the bottle, not by glass. HOWEVER. The glasses smelled like bleach. It was really weird. Mike (from 13 Celsius) would have thrown a shit fit. They do not treat their glasses very well. I couldn’t tell if the wines we tried were good. Actually, I kind of hated them because I could smell was the bleach. Bleach aside, the first wine I really didn’t like. It tasted totally off.  Also, our waiter knew nothing about wine. We asked him why there was a Montepulciano wine in the “Tuscan” section of the wine list and another Montepulciano in the “Regions” section, and he said he doesn’t drink. Still, I think if you’re a waiter in a restaurant with a wine list, you should be knowledgeable about wines. The wine we ended up getting went really well with the entire meal and I was quite happy with it.

She ate: I was pleasantly surprised by several things. They had a pretty good (although not extensive by any means) wine list. Of the three reds we tried, I would have been happy to get a bottle of any of them. I did have to hold my breath to eliminate the bleach smell in order to judge the wines, which is no bueno. The bleach…yeah. I have never had that happen before but I’m chucking it up to an unfortunately freak occurrence. The Frattoria was a very salt-to-the-earth, typical Tuscan red, and I highly recommend it.

Image

Lobster Bisque:

He ate: It was $6, which for that price was pretty damn good. Not enough sherry but I’ll still take it! You could get three of those and be super full…or for a dude you could get three of those and be super full for $18. And you’d be eating a lot of lobster bisque!

She ate: Y’all know by now if lobster bisque is on the menu, Aaron will always get it. This was one of the best lobster bisques I’ve had and well worth the $6. Good flavor and plenty of lobster meat chunks.

Image

Image

Bruschetta Quattro Sampler: roasted red pepper bruschetta (fresh basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a balsamic drizzle), sliced steak bruschetta (gorgonzola Dolce, arugula, fennel, charred tomato, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and Tuscan Italian dressing), Mediterranean bruschetta (slivers of pepperoni, green olives and peppers), chilled tomato caprese bruschetta (roma tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes, Mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, basil, Reggiano and housemade cilantro pesto)

He ate: When I think bruschetta I think oh, I can’t make pizza well so I’ll make bruschetta. That’s usually the first thing that comes to mind for me when someone suggests bruschetta. But this dish was super smart. I hate bell peppers and gorgonzola, both of which were in this dish and I didn’t even notice them because everything was so damn delicious. This was a huge dish—it was bigger than my actual entree.

She ate: Oh my LORD these were good! I’m usually not a fan of bruschetta. I think stale bread, stupid tomatoes always falling off, too much garlic and not a lot of other flavors. These have changed my mind! Thank goodness we followed our waiter’s advice and got these. The steak one was my favorite. It had just enough gorgonzola but not too much for it to be overpowering, and the steak was tender and flavorful. The mozzarella on all of them was rich, creamy, and the bread was buttered just enough for everything to meld together. Amazing.

Image

Lobster and Shrimp Ravioli with Crab Insalata (lemon vinaigrette, a Limoncello butter sauce, tomato capote and arugula)

He ate: What’s the deal with only getting six raviolis at restaurants? When you order pasta you get half a pound of pasta. When you get ravioli you get four fucking raviolis. I don’t understand it! I guess it’s because raviolis they make in house and pasta they just order it from somewhere? Anyway, I actually didn’t mind that the portion was small because I was already pretty full from the bruschetta. Like I said, I like this place because it’s comfort food. If I had a bad day, I’d come here, order the bruschetta, ravioli, and a glass of wine I would be really happy. It’s savory, not too heavy and I don’t feel shitty after eating it.

She ate: I thought this was ok. The filling was fresh and flavorful but overall the dish was nothing to write home about. I do agree about the atmosphere. It was a mix of the River Oaks crowd, yuppies, and your parents. I kind of like that.

Lobster and Shrimp Fettucine (shrimp and lobster tossed with mushrooms, green onions and a spicy lobster butter sauce) AVERT YOUR EYES I am sorry this picture came out crazy bright. I am very, very sorry.

He ate: this pasta is inedible. It was super spicy! I gave it two tries, then at the end of the meal I tried it again and I just could not eat it. It did go well with the wine.

She ate: I somehow missed the “spicy” part in the description when I ordered this dish. I have a pretty high tolerance for spicy so it was fine but still a surprise to me! I was in the mood for something a bit more creamy but the dish was still pretty good. The shrimp and lobster were plenty and fresh, and I really liked the cremini mushrooms thrown in as well. The pasta was cooked between regular and al dente. I prefer al dente but this texture was still fine by me. Aaron couldn’t eat this because he’s a giant spice pussy.

Image

Bread basket

He ate: The bread was ok, and it was really only ok because it was fresh and hot out of the oven. Not all that great. And our waiter was very forgetful. I do hate the fact that you now have to ASK for bread. What the hell is that all about!? Either you don’t offer bread at all or you bring it out automatically. That’s the way it should be. I don’t want to have to ask for it. That’s just fucking bullshit.

She ate: Ah, the much awaited and anticipated bread basket. Gael Greene brought up an interesting point in her latest post about how bread is never brought out anymore. Is this a trend now? Either they charge for bread, or you have to ask for it. Rarely do they just bring it out nowadays (other than a few restaurants, namely Max and Julie’s, Haven, and Capital Grille. Thank god for these restaurants!) Anyway, I asked for some bread and our waiter said it would be “one minute” because they’re making some fresh loaves. It didn’t actually come out until after they brought out our entrees…and the bread really was not very good. He also mentioned there was a parmesan dressing he brings out with the bread and he highly recommend dipping the bread in the dressing…which never came out. Overall the service, although well intentioned, was confused and a bit slow. I measure certain things against the greatest denominator. For example, bread at an Italian restaurant should at least be as good as the bread at Macaroni Grill. This did not measure up to par. If you’re interested, here are my other standards: tortillas should always be as good as Taco Cabana’s, churros should always be as good as Costco churros, etc, etc.

Image

Milk chocolate caramel cake (a decadent chocolate cake, layered with milk chocolate ganache, caramel, rich chocolate frosting and vanilla whipped cream), carrot cake (carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, walnuts), and tiramisu (lady fingers layered with coffee liqueur, mascarpone cheese and cocoa)

He ate: next we have the desserts, which were presented in the worst possible way. They need to stop presenting desserts on trays! Everything always looks wilted. This is a dangerous game they’re playing. You have to make sure your desserts don’t look terrible! The lava cake looks like poo. I’m sorry. It looked like poo. I’m sure if we got it fresh it would have been much better. The chocolate was the best because it had the strongest flavor, the tiramisu and carrot cake were both pussy desserts.
She ate: yeaaaaah. The presentation tray was bad. The desserts on the tray looked almost moldy. I hate desserts in small glasses. I just do. It doesn’t make any sense! Just put it on a goddamn plate. Anyway, I didn’t want to get these but the ones on the plate just sad. The creme brulee looked like the sugar to custard ratio was very off, the bread pudding looked like some yellow cake with dots of chocolate chip and a dab of whipped cream, and I’m just not a fan of the cheese cake. The chocolate lava cake looked ok but not great. I can’t even go into describing what we got. I mean they were all eXACtly what you would imagine them to be. The chocolate was the only one that was a tiny bit unique because of the coffee liquer, but it was way too sweet. Blah.
tl; dr: none of the food is interesting, but it’s comforting and will be better than you expect it to be. Don’t get dessert.
Advertisements

Dolce Delights: Special Gym Gays edition

Dolce Delights

3201 Louisiana St. Suite 100

Houston, Texas 77006

(713)807-7575

http://www.mydolcedelights.com/

Rating: 8

Since Rihanna’s Birthday Cake is our all time favorite song in spin class, I thought it would be fitting to take the gym gays with me to Dolce Delights cake tasting. So, this review will not be in the typical he8she8 style, but instead will just be my own darling voice (the gays didn’t say much, they were too busy tasting!).

After a sweaty spin class, the gym gays and I took a brisk two-minute walk down the stairs into the airy and bright cafe. We were immediately greeted by the lovely owner, Candace Chang. I could barely concentrate shaking Candace’s hand, as I was too busy gushing over the beautiful dome cakes. Candace generously allowed us to try almost all of their flavors and bringing over a plate of macarons as well.

Like many from my generation, Candace switched careers early in her life. She started in the fashion field but quickly learned she didn’t like it one bit. She decided to do something with her love for food and eating. She noticed that there aren’t many dessert places in Houston, which didn’t have overly sweet desserts. She wanted to serve desserts she would actually like to eat. As much as I love cakes and cookies, I yearn for a fancy cafe where I could eat something without having frosting coming out of my pores (although let’s not get crazy, I am still counting down until that cupcake ATM gets in town! Did anyone else watch last week’s Bunheads where they drive to L.A. for the 24-hour cupcake ATM?! No? Just me? ok.) A Sprinkles cupcake rings in at about 500 calories, where one of Dolce Delight’s dome cakes (which might I add are larger than those cupcakes) registers at 170 to 280 calories. Come to mama!

Candace decided butter creams and fondants were not for her and went home to Hong Kong to learn Asian and European baking techniques. Her cakes mostly consist of a cake bottom, a creamy or fruity filling, topped by a dome of light and smooth mousse. We were treated to an array of beautiful cakes (did I mention how swoon worthy these cakes look? Yes? Ok fine I’ll stop harping on that) along with a plate of macarons:

Rum Raisin Truffle Cake:

My absolute favorite was the rum raisin truffle cake, which had chocolate mousse wrapped around a mixture of crème brulee filling and rum raisins on top of a layer of chocolate cake. It was all I could do to stop myself from picking up the cake and licking off the rich chocolate syrup. The cake was not cloyingly rich, and it had all three of my favorite desserts in one: chocolate, rum raisin (oh I would die for a pint of Haagen-Dazs rum raisin ice cream right now!) and crème brulee. I wish there was less chocolate mousse, more raisins (which were very rummy). Still, overall it was one of the most unique desserts I’ve had. I could have eaten the entire thing by myself and not feel disgusting (or that I need something savory to compensate for the sweetness as I almost always have to have, and then you’re really full and do not actually WANT to eat something salty. #firstworldproblems). Win win win win win!

Raspberry Rose Lychee Dome Cake:

 

I love that Dolce Delight experiments in less typical flavors. Their raspberry rose lychee dome cake has an almond sponge cake base and did not, I repeat did not taste like perfume as I thought it might. Personally I love anything rose flavored: rose infused champagne at Philippe’s, rose petal tea, you name it, I eat/drink it. I know a lot of people are averse to flowery foods though but this dessert is really worth trying.

Lemon-Blueberry Basil:

The lemon-blueberry basil (a tart lemon mousse with a basil creme brulee center on top of blueberry compote with an almond sponge base) tasted like a summer cocktail in cake form. It had a paper-thin white chocolate crunch dome. The blueberry compote was a pleasant surprise and the subtle sweetness of the almond sponge cake nicely offset the tartness of the rest of the dessert.

Dark Chocolate with Brandied Cherries

This is one of Candace’s favorite cakes. I’m not usually a fan of dark chocolate, but this cake was not too bitter and god knows I love a good brandied cherry—too bad one of the gym gays stole it before I could taste it! I think they need to pout more cherries in this cake. I do love that the cherries are whole and not chopped up.

Strawberry White Chocolate:

They really should highlight the fact that there’s DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE in this! Ok, other than the most delicious cake in the world, this dessert also has white chocolate mousse with layers of strawberry gelee and fresh strawberry pieces. It’s somehow refreshing and decadent at the same time.

You can tell that Candace pours her heart and soul into these creations. Every cake has a special design, and even the macarons took her many tries to get it just right (for example, you should never make macarons when it’s raining. Who knew?). Being a macaron lover, I’ve tried almost all the macarons around town and I always make an effort to try macarons when I travel. I think Candace’s can match up to my favorite macarons from Francois Payard Bakery in New York. My favorite was the peanut butter and jelly macaron. Candace used peanut flour, which really captured the essence of peanut butter flavor. The cookie parts of the macarons were perfectly soft with just the right amount of crunch.

Even though their coffee program plays second fiddle to the desserts, Dolce Delights offer many unique choices in addition to the usual drinks you find at other coffee shops. Their yuzu hot tea soothed my throat; their azuki (Japanese red bean) drinks, maple tea lattes and Thai iced tea with coffee jelly piqued my interest. Due to popular demand, they also offer croissants and sandwiches. AND Candace is going to start letting people bring booze in! How perfect would it be to have an afternoon of champagne and macarons, or maybe some port and cakes after dinner? I can’t wait!

tl; dr: skip the cupcakes and have some unique fancy cakes!

Oxheart

Oxheart

1302 Nance Street

Houston, Texas 77002
832.830.8592

http://oxhearthouston.com/

Rating: 8

When one of our favorite couples, Lyle and Adele, asked us to try out Oxheart with them, we were beyond ecstatic! I have been anxiously waiting to eat at this much-anticipated restaurant by Justin Yu and Karen Man and they did not disappoint. We loved the interior of the restaurant and being able to sit by the kitchen was just the cherry on top of the sundae. We decided on the chef’s tasting menu with the wine pairing by sommelier Justin Vann.

Beets with granola, almonds, and wheat berries

He ate: This is the first time I’ve actually liked beets. They were really well cooked and mild in flavor.

She ate: I loved the almond essence flavor in this dish. I don’t really like beets so I was relieved that the sweetness of the almonds covered a bit of the beet flavors. This is the first time I did not hate beets! The crunchy almond slices and the hard texture of the wheat berries paired well with the smoothness of the beets.

Smoked young daikon and radishes with smoked creme fraiche

He ate: I thought this was…fine. Both the yolk and the smoked creme fraiche were super delicious. To me, the daikon was just a vehicle for the sauces. It could’ve been a saltine cracker as long as it delivered the sauce to my mouth.

She ate: I liked that the creme fraiche was sweet while smokey. That was a nice combination. The daikon was good but having grown up eating daikon regularly, it was not particularly exciting to me, smoked or not.

Dinner rolls

He ate: These were very good and fresh out of the oven, but I wouldn’t say they were the best bread I’ve ever had. It is cool that they make it to order. It’ll always be consistent and never stale!

She ate: I agree, piping hot rolls will always be good but…bread is bread, yo! I was very impressed that they made gluten-free rolls just for Adele. I had a little bite and those were just as good as ours, a feat hard to achieve! Bravo on that!

Adele’s gluten-free rolls!

Crawfish warmed in butter over Texas rice

He ate: This was probably my favorite dish! I really liked the rice even better than the crawfish, which were succulent and flavorful. The rice was in this sauce that was almost a rue…and had all of the great crawfish flavors. I’m usually not a fan of rice in general but this…I could have eaten a bucketful. The texture was just…I don’t know how they did it. It wasn’t squishy or crunchy, just a little bit al dente.

She ate: Oh my god I so agree. The crawfish was great but the rice! It was in between the perfect fried rice and a gumbo…the texture was swoon worthy. I don’t know how to explain it. It wasn’t too al dente so it was able to absorb all the flavors.

Barley and sunflower seeds stew with beans and gulf hake

He ate: I was confused by this dish. I thought it was supposed to feature the fish, but it really was more like a barley stew. The entire dish was a little too salty. The baby greens offset the savory but not quite enough. However, I still enjoyed the rest of the dish.

She ate: I didn’t think the whole dish was too salty, I thought just the fish was very salty (but I like salty so no complaints here!). The rest of the stew was not salty so I thought it was a nice contrast to have a little bit of fish, then some barley. It reminds me of eating savory little dishes to go with the very bland congee I grew up eating. The grenache blend that paired with this stew was brilliant. It was a light red that went perfectly with the fish. The wine was very woody and oaky yet still retained lightness.

Potatoes and vegetable hash with pesto

He ate: Great flavors, not all that creative, but paired awesome with the Gertzweiner. Of all the pairings I thought this one was the best. The crisp and slightly sweet Gertzweiner played off the savory crunchy potatoes quite well.

She ate: I liked that the pesto acted as a condiment for the potatoes, like ketchup and fries. Some of the potatoes looked like short ribs or some form of substantial meat, so every time I put it in my mouth I would think “oh maybe THIS piece is meat!” and was constantly disappointed…but the potatoes were pretty fucking delicious so I shouldn’t complain. #firstworldproblems. They cut the potatoes at the exact right size where the ratio of crispy skin to soft insides was just perfect. However…not the most inventive dish.

Beef shank with yellow carrot, seaweed, and preserved lime

He ate: I thought the beef was peculiar but in a good way. The carrots were fine but nothing crazy.

She ate: I expected this to be a steak, but when I cut into it, it fell off my fork. This was such a pleasant surprise! It was super tender yet a bit crispy on the outside! This is pretty hard to achieve…as a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had meat this way. I also thought everything was JUST salty enough. That’s my usual complaint at steakhouses. It’s either overly salty or completely bland. I love roasted carrots in general so that was a big thumbs up for me. Every other dish, I gave half of mine to Aaron, but this one I gobbled it all up!

Layer chocolate cake with chilled beets

He ate: Well…at least there was a lot of chocolate for just a little bit of beets. Of course I wish there was no beets in my cake at all, there was that saving grace. It looked pretty and was chocolatey and went well with the Trappist ale. I thought all of our pairings were very inspired. There were a couple of misses, but the three or four pairings that I really liked—I REALLY LIKED. They really added something to the meal. Often I get wine pairings and I think the wine would actually be better without the food…not the case with Justin Vann. He’s truly one of the best sommeliers we’ve come across.

She ate: You know, despite not liking beets, the first beet dish was genius. But beets in desserts are a bit over done in my opinion. I see it in a million food blogs and fancy restaurants…let’s move on here. The flavor just did not work for me. Beets and chocolate just should not go together. Ever.

tl; dr: Oxheart lives up to the hype!

Backstreet Cafe

Backstreet Cafe

1103 South Shepherd Drive

Houston, TX 77019

(713) 521-2239

Rating: 8

Like most Houstonians, Aaron and I try to take advantage of the two months a year when Houston’s weather is simply ravishing. Visiting our favorite sommelier,  Marc Borel, was the perfect excuse to try out Backstreet. Ask for Marc when you go there—he makes the best wine recommendations!

There’s something to be said about sitting outside in 70 degree weather under the shade of trees next to a babbling fountain. The service is fast and friendly, but our meals always end up taking at least two and a half hours simply because we love sitting there drinking our respective Chardonnays (yes I’m a middle-aged WASP now) and cocktails.

He ate: They have a pretty great wine selection, and I usually get the Road to Waco cocktail (not pictured), which is a pretty genius cocktail. Even though the one I got today was not as good as the one I got last week (obviously made by a different bartender), it was still pretty goddamn good. The first one I got was impeccable. It has bourbon, green tea, egg whites, and honey. It’s a great spring cocktail.

I also got their blackberry mojito, which is pretty good as well. You can get this by the pitcher which is kind of nice if you just want to drink a fuck ton of mojitos, sit by the fountain, slowly get wasted, and eat some good food.

She ate: I liked the blackberry mojito was good as well, but a little too tart for me. I LOVED my Landmark chardonnay. It was buttery, moderately priced, and perfect for the first morning alcohol.

He ate: Let me talk about what I got the first time we were here really quick. I got the lobster sandwich on brioche roll. It was good, but since we came on a weekday for lunch, it was a totally different atmosphere. They were in lunch mode, which is make nice food, make it quickly, get it to you, and get it out. Places during lunch have a different approach, the food taste different, and sometimes they have different chefs. It was a solid sandwich, but not amazing.

The second time we were here I got the duck spring rolls, which I super liked. Amy didn’t like them so much. They were fried, which is probably why she didn’t like them. They were really greasy but in a good way—it complemented the duck very well. They were super tasty, full of flavor. I also got…some sort of waffle. Amy reminded me that they were gingerbread waffles, but I can barely remember because they didn’t taste very gingerbread-y. They were fine but not awesome.

Something cool you also get when you come for brunch is the complementary mini muffins. You get scones, a variety of berry and savory cheese mini muffins, and they’re SO good! Far and away the best free bread in the city.

Now on to the pictured artichoke cocktail. Amy ordered this off of their seasonal artichoke menu, which includes an artichoke heart eggs benedict (I wish I would’ve gotten because it sounds super interesting). This was basically like a shrimp cocktail but with artichokes. It was light, the acid was good, I liked the radishes in it (I don’t think I’ve ever had a shrimp cocktail with radishes, that was a nice touch), and went well with Amy’s wine (Landmark chardonnay).

She ate: I’m also a fan of the free mini muffins. Last weekend we couldn’t get a reservation at Backstreet Café, so we went to Brennars on the Bayou for brunch. You had to buy the muffin/scone basket there and they weren’t that much better/bigger than the free ones at Backstreet at brunch. Incidentally, the bread you get for lunch is also very tasty—chewy, soft, crusty with creamy butter on the side, of course.

I’m trying to get into artichokes…it’s my new avocado. I’m not sure why artichoke is such a phenomenon…kind of like squash blossoms. I could take it or leave it. I did really love the flavor of the entire cocktail and the crunchiness of the radishes were a nice squash, but mostly I found myself digging for avocados (mmmm creamy goodness…I am obsessed). The artichokes were perfectly soft, none of the chewy bits you sometimes find in other restaurants. I guess I just don’t get what all the hype is about, other than the fact that it’s a seasonal vegetable.

He ate: Ordering the prime rib for lunch was a mistake. It was a salted prime rib with potatoes and salad. The cut was too thin, it was super salty and super buttery. I thought it was ok. It was fine, but I shouldn’t get steak for brunch. They also had a savory crepes with gruyere and ham which I think would have been better. That’s the other great thing about Backstreet: there are so many choices, and everything is usually solid. You never get anything that’s bad, even though I didn’t love the prime rib, it was still pretty good. I never get the feeling that when I order something, they didn’t care.

She ate: I felt so bad that I made Aaron order the prime rib so I could live vicariously through him. I always wanted to order steak for breakfast, but I’m not baller enough to do so. I actually thought this steak was quite good! Steak is more than often too bland for my taste so I did not find it too salty at all. It was nice and fatty too.

He ate: Amy’s “salad” was just a huge freaking pear! It was just a huge, pregnant pear. The presentation was awesome. It tasted sort of like a parfait because it had craisins and nuts inside with some pieces of blue cheese creaminess on the side. I thought this salad was great, I liked it a lot.

She ate: I was pretty full after the wine and artichoke cocktail, so this was perfect. The pear was huge so I ended up only eating two thirds of it. I loved the warm dressing (usually on the pair but I asked for it on the side as I always do), but wish the pear had been poached in some sort of alcohol to give it more of a punch. I asked for shrimp on the side of the salad, but really I didn’t need it—I was so full after the artichoke cocktail and pear!

tl; dr: Go before the weather gets nasty, and even after the summer arrives, go for the always solid food, especially the brunch.

Feast

Feast

219 Westheimer Road

Houston, TX 77006

713-529-7788

http://www.feasthouston.com

Rating: 8

He ate: In the past I’ve usually gotten country fare at Feast—a lot of simple dishes. Feast’s thing is simple dishes done well. Nothing I’ve ordered in the past have been bad…but they’ve just never been anything I particularly cared for. I think no matter how well cooked something is, if you don’t like the ingredient, you’re just not going to enjoy it. This visit I got stuff that I do like and it was really good!

She ate: Aaron and I have been to Feast a couple times in the last years. Since we are both big fans of nose to tail eating, we were more than psyched to try the praise-laden restaurant. Even though we didn’t h8 it, the lack of flavor disappointed us. We decided to give it another try last week and were pleasantly surprised that Feast had upped its game.

He ate: We got a bottle of 2002 Minervois (French) Grenache and Syrah blend to share. It was a heavy red and went well with all the meat to come. It was a little sharp at first but really mellowed out after letting it breath.

She ate: I think the bottle was $45, a little steep for us but well worth it. I love LOVE heavy red wines, and Grenache is one of my favorite grapes. I thought the wine was pretty mature already and didn’t think it was sharp like Aaron says.

He ate: We started with the bone marrow. Even though this dish was fine, it was one of the weakest dishes. Bone marrow is always good, but it was really small portions. There really was nothing special about this dish. The best part about this dish were the spoons that came with it. I’ve never seen bone marrow spoons before and it helped me to consume the meat butter faster. Win.

She ate: I agree, this bone marrow is nothing compared to The Modular food truck’s bone marrow…or even the bone marrow at Stella Sola. Meh. We totally should’ve gotten the lamb testicles instead. I’m not even kidding.

He ate: All of the sides at Feast were English terms I have not heard of, one of them being the Welsh Rarebit. This is basically bread toasted with beer, cheddar, and Worcester sauce on top. It reminds me of something a mom would make as an after school snack. It was a very white-person snack. I do regret not getting the testicles in addition to the Welsh rarebit because how many times do you get to eat testicles (if you’re not Amy)?

She ate: I really liked this appetizer as well, although I wish the cheese to bread ratio was a little more balanced. There was way too much cheese for the bread, and they were out of bread when we asked for more. But overall still a thumbs up. Not too salty, very satisfying.

He ate: This was a huge pig tail! That pig must have been pretty big. It was super tender, crispy, and fatty. I loved that it was served with butter (which we were later informed was aioli). I would highly recommend ordering this when you go next time, and you should go soon because their menu changes pretty rapidly.

She ate: I have to preface this by letting y’all know that last year when Aaron was using my computer one day, he looked in my search history and my top two most searched for words were “curly pig penis” and “donuts.” ANYway I was disappointed that the pig tail was not curly, but my disappointment was soon erased by the deliciousness that followed. This was the freaking bombdotcom. Ok. The top layer is pretty much just pure fat. And it’s not the congealed solid fat that’s on pork belly (I’m not dissing pork belly fat, I’m just saying it’s different). It’s more of a soft, melty but still solid fat. The meat on the tail was very tender. They coated the tail with bread crumbs and baked it (not fried, therefore healthy! Yeaaah). I do love that they served fat (I mean aioli) to top over the fat. Mmm. Good.

He ate: I had haggis in Scotland five years ago. It was served in a plastic bag because apparently there was some law there stating they weren’t allowed to cook it in actual stomach membrane. Weirdly enough the haggis I had in Scotland was considerably spicier (whereas the rest of the food I had on that trip was god awful bland). The haggis at Feast wasn’t spicy but it wasn’t bland either. The meat was well cooked and they had it on some pureed creamy potatoes that complimented well…it reminds me of a shepherd’s pie.

She ate: I’m glad they are allowed to cook it in stomach lining in the US…I love that texture, it’s one of the best part of the dish! I’ve never had haggis before and I’ve heard terrible things about it…but now that I think of it, all the horrible things I’ve heard about it are from people who only know what it is (scary animal parts blah blah blah go kill yourselves) and had never actually eaten it. It reminds me of a big boudin, but with more meat. And we all know more meat=good.

He ate: I was so full at this point, I can’t even really remember what this tastes like.

She ate: I really loved the beef tongue. It was super moist and flavorful. I love the texture of the tongue versus a brisket…not stringy, dense yet still tender. Also I really love making out with cows. It was served with some much welcomed brussel sprout leaves, bubbles and squeak with a creamy caper sauce. I had to stop myself from eating the entire dish myself!

He ate: I totally forgot we got sticky toffee bread pudding! And here I am wondering why I feel so sickly full…well aside from the twenty pounds of meat I just ate. It didn’t seem like a ton of thought was put into it

She ate: Our waitress really sold us on the toffee bread pudding so we ordered it even though we were stuffed to the brim. It was pretty disappointing, so I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it. Dessert (and vegetarian dishes—try asking about the vegetarian moussaka…the answer was more or less “because we have to appease the vegetarians.”) are obviously not Feast’s focus. If you are really jonesing for sticky toffee pudding, get yourself to Branchwater. They didn’t get on GQ’s top five desserts of the year for nothing, yo! Anyway, back to Feast,  when it comes to meat they are pretty much the best in town.

Taco Bell’s Dorito Loco Taco

Taco Bell

Rating: 8

image

My 18-year-old brother in law visited last weekend and in an effort to be young, wild, and reckless, we each got an after-dinner Dorito Loco Taco. I heard about this magical taco a year ago when it was not yet in every Taco Bell and have been dying to try it! It totally lived up to our sexpectations. Do yourself a favor and get the supreme Doritos tacos—the sour cream enhances the nacho cheese Dorito flavor, which was in full force.

Mini Korean Food Tour

Nam Gang

1411 Gessner Dr, Ste A
Houston, TX 77080
(713) 467-8801

Rating: h8

Soju Bang

10049 Long Point Rd

Houston, Tx 77055

713-722-0578

Rating: 8

I got to live out my Korean soap opera fantasies on our last date night. Aaron and I wanted an exotic food staycation, and we decided this mini Korean food tour would be just the thing. We got a late start so didn’t make it to Han Mi Jung, but we did make it to both Nam Gang and Soju Bang.

Nam Gang

He ate: My overall comment about this place is that it’s really expensive. They cook the food here for you, and if you don’t like that it might be annoying, but I suppose you can just tell them to go away. Our bill was $80 and we only ordered half of what we usually would have ordered since we knew we were going to another restaurant afterwards.

She ate: I was really excited about Nam Gang for two reasons: 1. table top bbq with coal. I haven’t found this at any Korean restaurants on Bellaire, and 2. the egg banchan (similar to Japanese chwanmushi, or a steamed egg) that comes free along with the many small appetizer dishes. As you can see below, the coal excitement was fulfilled, but the egg banchan never came. When I asked for it the waitress kind of rolled her eyes and said “ok, well, I can make it for you…if you want.”

image

image

He ate: I liked the sauces that came with the sauces that came with food, the thicker bean paste sauce, and then the sesame sauce with the salt on the bottom. I liked the appetizer plates here more than I usually do. They didn’t have the whole fried fish like they do at Tofu Village, but I’m not a big fan of that so it was fine with me. I really liked the kimchi (I usually don’t) because it was a little sweeter than what you usually get. I also liked the plum seaweed. I thought the sides were better than average but not that much.

She ate: The small dishes were more substantial and interesting than the small dishes offered at Korean restaurants on Bellaire. They had egg battered tofu and marinaded eggplant, two varieties I haven’t yet seen. Other than that, there was nothing special about their small dishes or entrees.

image

He ate: I liked the marinaded short ribs a lot, but I like this dish wherever we get it. It tends to taste very similar wherever we go.

She ate: I agree. Short ribs are going to be good even when covered in poo. Ok maybe not poo but come on. It’s a cheap, fatty cut of meat. You can’t really go wrong here.

image

He ate: I thought the oyster pancake was just ok. It was luke warm and wasn’t very good. It had a nice amount of oyster in it, but overall the pancake was not well-formed and kept falling apart.

She ate: The pancake wasn’t crispy at all, but the oysters were plentiful and fresh. It also made for a yummy cold leftover treat the next day.

image

image

He ate: When we ordered the lamb, they tried really hard to dissuade us. I don’t understand why lamb is such an exotic thing. They kept saying it smells, and then when they cooked it for us. The meat was a little thin and overcooked, but I guess that’s what happens when someone else is cooking for you—they tend to not care as much/they don’t know how you like it. I tend to like my meats a little undercooked rather than overcooked.

She ate: Yeah, I have no fucking clue what that whole thing was about. I find it highly annoying when we go to Asian restaurants and the waiters/waitresses look to me and asks “are you sure HE will eat that?!” *eyes Aaron as if they were all of a sudden invisible to him.* The fuck. This time at least Aaron was not singled out. It was just totally random. “Are you sure you want the lamb? It smells!” Sure, lamb has a distinctive aroma, but does it matter when we’re in a restaurant full of people grilling AT THEIR TABLE? For real. Finally they let us order the lamb, but they kept making comments about how it smells the whole time they were cooking it, and they even said “smells like oysters!” (ummmm probably from the oyster sitting next to the grill but whatever).

Overall we probably won’t go back. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just wasn’t that good and was way too expensive.

Soju Bang:

image

He ate: This was some of the most interesting food I’ve had in a long time. It was very, very different from food I’ve had in a long time. And coming from eating in Houston, where you can find really any ethnicity food you want, and done well at that, this is saying a lot. It was not really my taste palate—everything was super spicy. The soju was like weak everclear. I know we just got the very basic standard soju, and there are much better ones out there, but I would not recommend that to anyone. I also got the Hite beer, which I assume is the bud light of Korea. This was basically water, and so I would also not recommend this to anyone.

She ate: Ok, the soju was indeed like everclear…but I kind of think that’s the beauty of soju. It’s an every man drink, and it’s fun to cringe after each sip—and it makes the fried shit you’re about to eat taste all the better in contrast! I really dug the atmosphere of the bar/restaurant. It was a Korean dive bar—something Houston lacks. Houston lacks authentic Asian bars of any kind, which makes me kind of sad. There was a wedding after party happening when we were there, which was pretty awesome.

Kim Ma Ri:

image

image

He ate: These were so interesting. I don’t even know what to compare these to. I don’t think I can even form an opinion on these since they’re nothing like anything I’ve ever tasted before.

She ate: I was informed that these are a very typical street food called Kim Ma Ri. They were most excellent. Chewy, starchy noodles, wrapped in seaweed, battered, and deep-fried. We didn’t we think of this earlier?? They didn’t seem all that spicy to me, but then again, I have a manlier tolerance level of spice than Aaron. Just sayin’.

Teteokbokki:

image

He ate: This was too spicy for me, but I really liked the texture of the rice cakes. I would pick one out, eat it, and decide it’s too spicy. Then I’d pick another one out to eat, just to make sure, and to experience the texture again! They were addictive. The dumplings were a bit disappointing, but it was nice to have a crunchy texture to contrast with everything else.

She ate: Ok, I admit this dish was pretty spicy even for me. I pretty much would eat a bite, shout “OH! Spicy!” take a glug of soju, make a cringy face at the everclear-ness of the liquor, and eat another bite of the spicy red noodles to erase the soju taste, then the vicious cycle would start all over again. No, but seriously, I really liked this dish. The sauce was spicy but also very sweet. The noodles were perfectly al dente but squishy at the same time. There were also these fat, doughy rice cake logs that just soaked up the sauce. In contrast, there were the deep-fried crispy dumplings, which actually were not all that great but the dish really needed the crispness.

Ja Jeung Mein:

image

He ate: Even though these noodles were super black (they looked like they were cooked in squid ink! Which would have actually tasted much better. Too bad.) they didn’t have much of a black bean flavor. I really liked these noodles. The texture was great and it had a really pleasant aroma.

She ate: I thought these noodles were pretty sad. They used a different noodle than the red spicy one above, so it wasn’t as chewy or al dente. It wasn’t overcooked, just a very boring texture. The bean sauce didn’t taste like beans because it was overpowered by the humongous BED OF ONIONS THAT WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD. I’m not well versed in Korean food, so maybe this is typical of Korean ja jeung mein (although I’ve had it in other Korean restaurants and never with onions). This dish was not bad, very edible, but not my cup of tea. My ja jeung mein loyalty still remains with Dumpling King, the one on Bellaire, NOT Westheimer!

We would go back to Soju Bang to try some of their other dishes. Even though it’s far from us, they offer dishes not typically found in other Korean restaurants.

Local Foods

Local Foods

2424 Dunstan St.

Houston, TX 77005

713.521.7800

http://www.houstonlocalfoods.com

Rating: 8

Unlike the rest of Houston, I’m not a huge fan of Benjy’s. The food is never particularly interesting or over the top good. It always seems like a place tell people you like because you think you should like it. And because of that, the crowd at Benjy’s ends up being douches who honestly believe they’re not douches.

Or maybe I just like to say douche a lot. Which probably makes me a douche. There I go again!

Anyway, Local Foods is opened by the same people as Benjy’s. Both happen to be across the street from our gym, so I walked in one night after my work out. It was pretty empty and the food in the display case looked like a miniature version of the prepared food section at Whole Foods.

A few weeks later, Aaron requested somewhere new for lunch, and I suggested Local Foods since I left without buying anything last time. We were very pleasantly surprised. The inside had a vintage farm feel, very cozy and clean. If 101cookbooks and theKitchn opened a restaurant, it would be Local Foods.

image

Quinoa, Olive, Carrot, Oregano:

image

He ate: The olive quinoa was savory and worked really well with my sandwich (below), although I could’ve used a little more quinoa because this was pretty heavy on the olives.

She ate: Oh god, I LOVED this salad. I also wish there was more quinoa to olives ratio, but since the olives were not overly salty, I didn’t mind it so much. The crispy carrots and celery bits were a nice contrast to the plump and buttery olives. I could eat this every day.

Tuscan Kale, Golden Raisins, Toasted Pine Nuts:

image

He ate: This was fine and light, but after the sandwich it was tough to switch gears back to the kale since the sandwich and olives were so flavorful. I think this would have been a nice way to start, not finish the meal.

She ate: I can also eat this every day! Aaron still insists kale is a garnish, but I don’t care, I love it. It’s much better than the two kale salads you get at Whole foods. There is a minimal amount of parmesan—just enough for a nice salty flavor, and not too much to make you feel unhealthy. The pine nuts add a nice crunch, and the golden raisins are soft and sweet, a much-needed contrast to the slightly bitter kale.

Truffled egg salad, market greens, pretzel bun with more quinoa and cucumber hummus:

He ate: This sandwich was so DAMN GOOD. Very, very truffly, just the way I like it. It was just reaaaally, really super good. It falls on my very short list of things I would order a second one immediately as I’m eating my first one. The pretzel bun was fine—let me put it this way: the egg salad was so good I didn’t care what it was on. Well, let me take that back. I think it was a good choice of bread. Rye bread would have been weird, wheat wouldn’t work well, so yeah, I think it was a good choice. The hummus was also made well, although who only uses TWO CHIPS for an entire bowl of hummus?

She ate: I’m somewhat obsessed with pretzel buns, so that was actually more exciting to me than the truffled egg salad. But, when I took a bite of Aaron’s sandwich, I forgot all about the pretzel bun. The egg salad was SO truffly and delicious! I wanted to steal the whole sandwich from him but it was a weekday so I had to behave and continue to graze on my salads.

Arugula, Shrimp, Dried Cranberries, Texas Honey Pecans, Pecorino Cheese, Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette (not pictured):

She ate: Aaron didn’t want to try any of my salad so you’re stuck with just me. The dressing was very light, you almost couldn’t taste it, which was just fine with me because I hate it when dressings are too oily or sweet. The shrimp was fresh but a little over cooked, not as good as the shrimp at Revival Market. It was a big portion, and I had to take half of it home. A nice mix of flavors, although nothing as creative as their sides or sandwiches.

Awesome crushed, not cubed ice, always a bonus.

image

He ate: I definitely want to come back to Local Foods. There are so many other things I want to try, like the duck confit with brie sandwich and some of the other sides. Even if everything was close to how good my sandwich stuff, it would still be pretty darn solid. The prices are a bit steep for lunch but I guess I’ll deal with it since the portions are not too small. I like Local Foods a lot better than Revival Market or Relish, both of which are in the same vein of restaurant/market and opened in the last year.

She ate: Yeah, the prices are kind of high but compared to Revival Market, you get a lot more food. I’m so glad there’s finally a place where you can get interesting and delicious healthy foods. I almost always have salads for lunch during the week, and it’s great to finally have a place other than whole foods that deviate from standard leafy salads.

*update: we went back two weeks later, got the same sandwich, and it wasn’t nearly as truffly. Pout. We also got the cauliflower and barley in ginger vinaigrette (very flavorful, would get again) and the butternut squash, pepita, cilantro, red chili, thai basil (very bland, would not order again).

tl; dr: obviously we love this place and would return, as we’ve already returned once! Skip the entree salads and get the sandwiches (especially the truffle egg salad sandwich) and sides.

Triniti

Triniti Restaurant

2815 South Shepherd Dr.

Houston, TX 77098

http://www.trinitirestaurant.com/

Rating: 8

Like Underbelly or Uchi, Triniti is one of those restaurants that the entire Houston foodiesphere (shut up) has been buzzing about for way too long. Restaurant anticipation is kind of like the five stages of grief, but instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, we have excitement, desire, impatience, apathy, and satisfaction (or not). First you excitedly hear rumors of a restaurant opened by a chef who previously worked at a famous restaurant (excitement), then you can’t wait for the restaurant to open (desire), the opening date keeps getting delayed (impatience), you proclaim to everyone that you’re “so over waiting for _________ restaurant to open” (apathy), and finally when it does open, you’re the first one in line and you order every single thing on the menu you’ve been reading about.

Okay, maybe that analogy was a stretch, but this was exactly how Triniti came to be, at least for me. Led by Ryan Hildebrand (formerly of Textile), the Triniti’s dream team did not disappoint our many months of anticipation.  Typical of Houston, Triniti is in between a strip mall and Starbucks. However, when you step inside, you’re instantly transported into one of the hottest restaurants in New York, from the crowd of beautiful people at the bar to the glitzy but chic interior. It reminds me of a dressed up version of Canopy on Montrose—soft wood, sculptural lighting, chic atmosphere. Similarly, the food was well thought out, not simplistic, but not fussy.

McCallan 12:

She ate: Triniti had a very impressive and creative cocktail list, but I wasn’t in a cocktail mood so I had my default drink.  While I wasn’t terribly impressed by their scotch or bourbon list, I was happy to sip on my McCallan in such a beautiful glass.

Winter Flip (Buffalo Trace bourbon, butterscotch schnappe, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla infused cream, egg yolk, nutmeg):

He ate: The Winter Flip reminds me of a Toasted Almond cocktail (amaretto, Kahlua, cream). It’s good, like a port flip but with whiskey. The whiskey is definitely there. It’s a drink where the cocktail takes precedence over all other ingredients. You take a sip and you immediately recognize that it’s a whiskey cocktail. I love cocktails with egg yolks or egg whites, so this was a hit for me.

She ate: I have a much higher tolerance for strong whiskey, and for me this drink, while delicious, was overwhelmed by butterscotch. If you want a butterscotch dessert cocktail, this is for you.

Derby (bourbon, benedictine, angustura bitters):

He ate: Super citrusy, super whiskey-y, I don’t particular love this cocktail, but it works well because the citrus and whiskey don’t get in the way of each other. You’re able to enjoy each element separately.

She ate: I didn’t try this, sorry!

Celery Root (apple textures, cinnamon cream):

He ate: I loved this soup. It’s like no other soup I’ve ever had. It’s light but creamy at the same time, which is an interesting combination. The apple on the side was a great touch to the hint of cinnamon in the soup.

She ate: When Aaron suggested getting this soup, I was very meh on it. I’m not a huge fan of bisques unless it has lobster in it. I don’t really like pureed soups in general—I like clear broth with chunks of ingredients in it, mostly of the wonton variety. I guess it’s the Asian in me (cue dirty joke). Although I don’t know if I would get this soup again other than to satisfy my “did I really like it last time?” curiosity, I have to say this is one of the best bisques I’ve ever had. In addition to being creamy and light at the same time, it was savory with a bit of sweet…a perfect dichotomy.

Foie gras ‘breakfast’ (brioche toast, bacon, quail egg, fig syrup):

He ate: I thought this was really well prepared and cooked. I’ve had a lot of foei gras, so this didn’t blow me away, but the combination of bacon, foie gras, and quail egg was unique.

She ate: I thought this dish was too easy, although delicious. Maybe there’s something to be said about keeping things simple…but Triniti managed to make something simple complicated, but then brought it back to simple again. The foie gras was well cooked and seasoned and the bacon was perfectly crispy (I’ve had some unfortunate bacon experiences lately—too crispy, not fatty enough, tastes like fish(?!?)). This dish was a success, but not as creative as other dishes on their menu. Part of what sets Triniti apart is their ability to successfully pair unexpected ingredients, and well, egg+bacon+foie gras+toast? Not so unexpected.

Kale (farm egg, pancetta, lemon, olive, white anchovy, pecorino romano):

He ate: When the waiter explained that this was a deconstructed caesar salad concept, I almost slow clapped him. Really, deconstructed? So 2005. But when I tasted it, I really liked it. I loved the rolled up white anchovies, and I usually hate anchovies. The pancetta was fried perfectly, and the cheese and the bread gave it a very distinct flavor.

She ate: I really loved this dish. I read about it in two other blogs/articles, and was trying to not get too excited over it, as hype often leaves me disappointed (Joyful Noise much? Kidding…) The barely poached egg made for a nice dressing over the crisp, blanched-for-30-seconds kale leaves, which were crisp without being raw.) The bread was nice and buttery, but nothing special. The pancetta was a nice savory  touch, in addition to the anchovies and olives thoughtfully placed on the corners.

Pheasant (bacon, smoked fingerlings, confit, stone fruit mostarda)

He ate: The pheasant tasted like fatty pork, crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. Like the rest of our dishes, this was very well cooked. I ate everything too fast to notice the accoutrements, sorry!

She ate: I’ve been obsessed with trying pheasant ever since I saw Some Like it Hot ten years ago. I was so excited to order this dish and talked Aaron out of getting the sirloin steak (in hindsight, a mistake). It was sort of a cross between pork and chicken. I disagree with Aaron and thought the pheasant was a bit dry, but the sour cherries paired well with it. Not worth the $29 price tag.

Tortellini (sweetbreads, tofu, parsley root puree, sweet scallion broth)

He ate: This was like a tortellini city, everything was scattered on the plate with strategic places for living and meeting. It was really good. It was the least expensive entree, and because of that it had the least amount of food (I’m guessing). The circular gelatin things, I don’t know what they were, were delicious and buttery. I could’ve used more of it. Whenever I order pasta, there’s never enough of it, which is the opposite of what the pasta experience should be. When you order pasta, you should always get way more pasta than you want, I feel. You should always have leftover pasta.

She ate: I liked the texture of the tortellini skin, but I was unable to taste sweetbreads, which usually has a distinct taste and texture. I’m not sure how this happened. It kind of tasted like a non-creamy cheese filling. I appreciate the creativity of serving the tortellinis with tofu, although I’m not sure what the point was because neither the sweet breads or tofu had any flavor, since tofu is by nature bland.

Root beer creme brulee (poached figs, rye ice cream)

He ate: I don’t know what the fuck they’re thinking. When you get a creme brulee, you expect boiled cream. That’s literally what it translates to. What I got was a deconstracted fucktard. I don’t know what the heck this is. I had to ask our waiter twice if this was in fact their creme brulee, because this was not what I was expecting. It looks like two soft serve ice cream with some figs. I was very befuddled.

She ate: This dessert reminds me of Chris Leung’s desserts back when Bootsie’s was still open. I was never a huge fan of Yu’s desserts, but Aaron was so I’m surprised he didn’t like this. The gelatin poo thing didn’t have any flavor or richness, the crispy sugar was not burned so just tasted like…well, sugar. The ice cream was ok (I couldn’t taste the rye flavor), although honestly they could have gone with Blue Bell and I would have been happier. The crumb dust was boring, and the pickled figs did nothing to enhance the dessert.

Chocolate tart (brown butter ice cream, sea salt):

He ate: This was better than the root beer fucktard, but could have used more sea salt to balance the sweetness. Overall I thought the desserts were misses. I had high expectations for dessert after the excellent dinner, but they were crushed after we were served.

She ate: This dessert was much better, but it’s a traditional chocolate pastry, so not much you can do to mess it up. In my mind, a tart has a crust with a soft filling. This was more like a thin brownie, which is fine, just not what I expected. Once again, I couldn’t taste the flavor in the ice cream (it’s supposed to be brown butter). It tasted just like vanilla ice cream to me.

Mango balls with chocolate truffles:

He ate: This was the complimentary end of the meal dessert. I would have gladly paid for this instead of the above two desserts. You pop the mango balls in your mouth and it kind of explodes with juice. The truffles were rich and rounded out the meal nicely.

She ate: I wasn’t as big of a fan as Aaron about the mango…it reminded me of a nicer version of canned peaches. The truffles were good, but after the two disaster fails, I think I was too jaded to appreciate anymore sweets from Triniti.

tl; dr: Go to Triniti for an interesting and well-made meal, but skip the desserts.

Nabi Again!

Nabi Neighborhood Restaurant

1517 Westheimer Rd Houston

(713) 526-8866

www.nabihouston.com

Rating: 8

Telling everyone about how awesome Nabi is only made us crave for more. Just like crack heads or sharks (or crackhead sharks) once we’ve had a taste, we want more!

I’m still obsessed with the space, which looked even better in daylight:


sweet texas corn + lobster chowder (seasonal mushrooms/fresh turmeric/roasted squash):

He ate: I loved the soup! It’s easily hands down the best lobster bisque/chowder I’ve ever had. It was creamy but still had a bit of kick to it.

She ate: I also LOVED this dish the most out of everything we ordered today. What a vast improvement to the lobster bisque we had at Capitol at Saint Germain.  I know this is a chowder, not a bisque, but it was just better in every way. Huge chunks of lobster swimming in a creamy but not too rich broth. The chives give it a nice texture and is not too onion-y tasting. The mushrooms and squash were cooked perfectly and gave the chowder a nice balance of vegetables and lobster. I’m not sure what the red oil is on top since the soup didn’t seem spicy to me, but whatever it was, it worked.

Tuna Pizza (crispy rice/spicy tuna/white tuna/jalapeno/gold tobiko):

He ate: Another solid dish, albeit strange presentation. It was as if they wanted it make a roll, somehow ended up with a pizza, then did their best with it.

She ate: I quite liked the presentation of this dish, actually! I was intrigued by the “crispy rice” which in my head was a sushi version of Mos Burger. If you’ve never been to Mos Burger, you’re missing out (and you’ve probably never been to Taiwan, Singapore, or Hong Kong). They make these delicious burgers with crispy rice patties, filled with juicy, saucy beef, shrimp, calamari, etc.

Mmmm. Come to mama.

(Image courtesy of Mos Burger)

I wish the tuna pizza had been a small circle cut into slices to resemble a real pizza. Instead it came in small wedges, but big enough so you can still pick it up. It made me feel like I was a giant, eating a tiny slice of pizza. The bottom part was a layer of seaweed, then a layer of rice, lightly battered and fried, then topped with very fresh tuna mixture, micro greens, jalapeno, tobiko, then drizzled with that good japanese creamy dressing. Overall I liked this dish for the interesting texture, but it could use a bit more on the flavor front.

Nabi Ramen (bacon broth/pork shoulder+belly/poached egg/scallion):

He ate: Not the best ramen I’ve ever had, but it was still tasty and a nice way to end the meal. It was a bit bland in the beginning, but great quality pork belly made up for it.

She ate: Wow, ramen. Talk about a food trend. The fact that the entire inaugural issue of Lucky Peach Magazine was dedicated solely to ramen should give you a hint that it is one of the latest and greatest food obsessions. I’ve read a couple ramen crawls in Houston, and it sounds like it’s a tie among Kubo Cafe, Soma, and Kata Robata. I’ve tried Kata Robata’s and while I don’t think Nabi’s ramen is necessarily better, it certainly ranks up there. The broth was very flavorful, but a little too salty. It had a great barbecue pork grill taste to it. The pork belly was nicely grilled, although once again the fat to eat ratio is 1:2, and I prefer 2: 1 or 3:1 or just 1. The pork shoulder was actually better than the pork belly. It was in shreds and very soft. The egg was poached a little too long, and the fish cakes were nothing to speak of, just your run of the mill supermarket pink fish cake, (which is just fine with me). The noodles had a nice bite and stayed al dente (or as we say in Chinese, “Q!”) until we finished the meal. However, it was not hand-made noodles, which is a point off. There was not enough broth for all the ingredients, but that was quickly amended as our waitress brought us extra broth upon request.

Short rib home fries (marinated short rib/yukon potato/cheese/caramelized kimchi) (We topped this with an egg, of course.):

He ate: I thought the home fries were only ok. I would’ve liked larger fries. I’m beginning to think that smothered fries are either not my thing or are much harder to do than well than people realize.
She ate: I thought the fries were pretty darn good, but I didn’t see or taste any kimchi, which was a big disappointment to me. I’m a kimchi fanatic and have actually NEVER HAD kimchi fries before! Can you believe it? The egg was good: crispy around the edges, raw yolk, just the way mom makes it. I appreciated the fact that the home fries were in mini wedges instead of either big wedges (not enough flavor!) or chopped into squares (soaks up too much oil). The short ribs had a nice texture but were cut into too small of pieces to fully enjoy. The cheese was a nice creamy touch but I think it needs to be a more flavorful cheese, maybe a smoked gruyer. I think a smoked cheese would have complimented a very spicy, plentiful kimchi. Even with these flaws, the dish was still pretty darn satisfying.

Crispy veal tongue (honey onions/pickled celery/spiced yogurt/parsley chip):

He ate: The tongue was bland…and not tongue-y, which is sort of the reason why one would order tongue. I’m not sure why people would order this, and I normally love tongue. It was sort of like veal jerky.
She ate: This was a miss, for sure. I think the dish had a lot of promise. I love tongue. I love fried shit. combine the two, add yogurt sauce, how can you go wrong? The tongue was not flavorful at all, and the rock sea salt bits on top didn’t help matters much. It was not tough or dry as it looks to be, but at the same time it was not juicy. You really had to drown it in sauce and honey onions (which were sweet and valiantly attempted to save the dish) in order for it to be worth any substance. In this case, maybe sticking with traditional Asian cooking method (stewing and serving it in paper-thin slices) is wiser.
Dishes I still want to try:
breakfast 12
pork belly/fried egg/avocado/pickled radish/katsu
bbq shrimp + short rib fried rice 11
head on shrimp/snow peas/cilantro/sesame oil
springer mountain roasted chicken 12
pickled cucumbers/daikon kimchi/chinese sausage/steamed rice
ginger duck + noodles 11
confit duck/scallions/shiitake/shishito peppers/hazelnuts
charbroiled bbq ribeye 13
roasted vegetables/soy glaze/steamed rice/kochujang
lobster + shrimp dumplings 15
xo sauce/zucchini/crispy shallots
mini lamb “corn dogs” 10
cilantro/fennel chutney/green mustard
tl; dr: Still love this place! More hits than misses, with the hits better than most other dishes in town.