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csingley

Houston: Chinese Restaurants

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Jaymes has suggested a discussion of the finest Chinese restaurants in Houston.  Not seeing a thread devoted to this subject, I've taken the liberty of starting one; I'll be happy to merge it if I've overlooked a worthy ancestor.

 

I can't claim an exhaustive knowledge, since we don't eat out that much, but here's my thoughts nevertheless:

 

  • Cooking Girl, recently opened on Fairview, is the best Sichuanese restaurant in town - much better than the Mala Sichuan Bistro (especially their Montrose location).  Little tiny dining room; legit food.
  • Little Sheep Mongolian hot pot is also the real deal - this is actually a popular chain out of PRC; last I checked they were big enough to have their own listing on the HK stock exchange.  Food, service, and pricing are better at the Westheimer/Fountainview location than down on Bellaire.  The shaved ice place next to the Little Sheep also has the real dope BTW.
  • Fung's Kitchen is pretty well-known as the best Cantonese seafood restaurant in Houston, I believe.  They do good dim sum there too, although they don't hire enough waiters so you have to be prepared to get a little aggro to fight for the good stuff fresh-made against some pushy battle-scarred grandmas, rather than letting them pawn off some hour-old char-siu buns to your hapless white face.
  • East Wall in the Dunhuang Plaza off Corporate Drive is where I usually go instead of Fung's Kitchen - good seafood and Peking duck, a little cheaper and not as crowded as Fung's, but I don't think they do dim sum.
  • Shanghai is an authentic family-style Chinese restaurant, not fancy.  It's good; we go there fairly often.
  • E-Tao, which has great dumplings and noodles, is surprisingly located inside the Galleria (by Nordstrom's)... so, unsurprisingly, I almost never eat there, but the food is authentic, probably the best dumplings in Houston.
  • Mein is my favorite Chinese noodle house.  The decor is upscale (usually a red flag) but the food is good.

 

What am I leaving out?  Fat Bao is really Asian fusion a la Momofuku, but I'm gonna go ahead and claim steamed buns for the Chinese, and it's good.  Shandong Noodle House is OK, and the price is right - cash only, so you know it's a "Chinese food for Chinese people" type situation - they sell frozen housemade dumplings there, which can be key.  Now that Yummy Kitchen and that place that used to be where the Lucky Dragon is (I think) have both closed, I'm not sure if there are any more good places to score good Taiwanese street snacks.

 

Anybody else?  Where's my Middle Kingdom peeps at, put a big-nose wise to it.

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Going to fess up my deep dark secret.  I'm actually out in Katy, and it's kind of a trek to get into town so haven't tried as many places as I'd like to.

 

I do like the food courts at 99Ranch, and H-Mart.  And Fung's Kitchen is kind of our family's go-to for big festive family celebratory dinners.  It's where I always ask to go for Mother's Day.  Love the crispy duck.

 

I have a group of "foodie friends" (yeah, I know, nobody likes that term, but you do know what I mean so I'll use it) that gets together from time to time at assorted restaurants.  Next one up is Mein.  I haven't been, and am looking forward to it.  Do they have xiaolongbao?  Any place else in town?  

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Jaymes said:

Going to fess up my deep dark secret.  I'm actually out in Katy, and it's kind of a trek to get into town so haven't tried as many places as I'd like to.

 

 

But hey, you can go to Cap'n Tom's Oyster Bar and drink micheladas.

 

8 minutes ago, Jaymes said:

I do like the food courts at 99Ranch, and H-Mart.  And Fung's Kitchen is kind of our family's go-to for big festive family celebratory dinners.  It's where I always ask to go for Mother's Day.  Love the crispy duck.

 

 

Yeah the food courts up I-10 are pretty decent, I like them to.  We had our American wedding banquet at Fung's Kitchen, actually - the Taipei version was at Pengyuan, where the food was like 100x better, although I was too busy to eat much and rapidly got too f***ed up to taste or remember anything because of all the mandatory whiskey-shot toasts... holy mother of God.  I'm pretty sure they do that simply as a disincentive to ever marry again.

 

12 minutes ago, Jaymes said:

I have a group of "foodie friends" (yeah, I know, nobody likes that term, but you do know what I mean so I'll use it) that gets together from time to time at assorted restaurants.  Next one up is Mein.  I haven't been, and am looking forward to it.  Do they have xiaolongbao?  Any place else in town?  

 

Mein is good!  I don't think they do soup dumplings, but I could be wrong.  Honestly, the best xiaolongbao in town are at E-Tao in the Galleria... unfortunately!  There's a few other places in town that do them... troll around Dunhuang Plaza in Bellaire Chinatown, there's a few shops there that do them I think (e.g. Fu-Fu Cafe), and there's also this odd duck called Auntie Chang's Dumpling House upstairs from Randall's at Shepherd just north of US-59... been there forever; haven't been there in years; my memory is unremarkable.

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18 minutes ago, gfweb said:

Katy...ewww

 

Ain't that bad any more.  New nickname is "Katyzuela."  Got some really great Latin American restaurants out here now.  And we do have Cap'n Tom's Seafood & Oyster Bar.  But like I said, it is a trek into Houston.

 

 

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My in-laws are in Houston. Off of I-10 near Memorial. What a food wasteland! Ninfa's and La Hacienda...Oy.

 

The occasional trip to the Petroleum Club is actually a bright spot. Though it it is stuck in the 70s, the food is well-prepared and served respectfully. ; )

 

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@csingley - Hi.  I was just at Mein this weekend with Jaymes and several others and she mentioned this thread, which I had missed.  Glad to see your comments.

 

Back in 2011 I was doing a tour of Sichuan restaurants in Houston, trying to educate myself about the cuisine, and happened on Mala Sichuan (the original) when the Grand Opening banner draped over the sign for the previous tenant in that space was all the signage there was.  They were less than 2 weeks old.  I ranked them in the middle of the 5 restaurants I sampled then and was surprised they became such a hit with foodies but chalked it up to my lack of knowledge of the cuisine.  But I do have to agree, I find Cooking Girl, which I've been to only once with the same group (minus Jaymes) to be much, mjuch better.

 

East Wall sounds good.  I will have to put that on my list.  I have been to Shanghai several times, Shandong many.  I have noticed the frozen dumplings but never bought any.

 

I was also doing a tour of soup dumplings back then.  Fu Fu was proclaimed the best by most foodies.  I don't remember how many I tried (Shanghai may have been one of them). There was a place where Uyghur Bistro is that I had them, as I recall and a place down the sidewalk from Fu Fu, Friends Kitchen or something like that.  I gave up; if any of those available in Houston at the time were good examples then I didn't share the fascination.  E-Tao started getting notices after I parked my tour bus and I've never been but I did see this last spring and it's on my list to try.

 

Uyghur Bistro, which I've been to only once, and Cooking Girl are my two favorite finds this year as far as Chinese restaurants.

 

BTW, of the 5 Sichuan restaurants I tried back in 2011, 2 are gone (Banana Leaf II replaced one of them, Uyghur another), one has either changed hands or the kitchen has completely changed and I wouldn't recommend.  The fifth I can't remember.

 

Our group at Mein over the weekend was somewhat underwhelmed, given all the hype.  Recommend a good noodle dish there, if you will.

 

Thanks.

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Looking back at this thread from 2+ years ago and I'm struck by how much things have changed. Katy is now the liveliest, most happnin' culinary spot in the greater Houston area! 

 

Think I'll check back here to see if anyone else shows up and, if so, elaborate further. But no need to waste time telling myself what I already know. 

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On 8/5/2016 at 3:43 AM, csingley said:

Little Sheep Mongolian hot pot is also the real deal - this is actually a popular chain out of PRC; last I checked they were big enough to have their own listing on the HK stock exchange.  Food, service, and pricing are better at the Westheimer/Fountainview location than down on Bellaire.  The shaved ice place next to the Little Sheep also has the real dope BTW.

 

Just spotted this.

Little Sheep was started in Inner Mongolia in 1999 as 小肥羊 (xiǎo féi yáng), literally 'Little Fat Sheep'. The company was acquired by Yum! Brands Inc, owners of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,  in 2011 and de-listed from the HK stock exchange in 2012. In 2016, it was moved  to ownership under the Yum China subsidiary.

 

It is no longer as popular in China as it was years ago.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Quite the coincidence. I just ran across this restaurant name very close to where @Kerry Beal and I hang out and had asked her before reading this if we could check it out at some point.  No idea if it is part of the same chain or not. 

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15 hours ago, Jaymes said:

Looking back at this thread from 2+ years ago and I'm struck by how much things have changed. Katy is now the liveliest, most happnin' culinary spot in the greater Houston area! 

 

Think I'll check back here to see if anyone else shows up and, if so, elaborate further. But no need to waste time telling myself what I already know. 

 

I don't know when or whether we'll ever get Houston into our travels - certainly we won't be towing our trailer through there for a culinary visit - but if we should downsize our rig, we'll have more flexibility. Please elaborate on your favorites!

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