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jscarbor

Texas food trail: Houston -- try something new!

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lol. I have been taking note of recommendations from you and jscarbor for years and have 'discovered' a number of good places that way.

Burt's is great. Wish it were closer to me.

Is Zydeco the place in the former Pizza Hut or Pizza Inn? I've been wanting to try that for a couple of years but am seldom downtown. The one time I got there it was just after 2 and they had closed.

I've been to Bombay Sweets a couple of times and wasn't impressed - the offerings were mostly gravy it seemed and the poppadums were stale and the naan - well, hard to find any that measures up to Himalaya, although as I recall the naan at Sabri Nihari was very good.

I'm looking forward to the opening of India House on W. Bellfort, about a mile from me. They finally broke ground on this long planned community center late last year and are nearing completion. A couple of small strip centers have sprung up across the street and there are vacancies in the former Randall's center down the street, so I'm hoping some enterprising businessman will see an opportunity for a restaurant. Then I came across old news stories about the place saying it will have a restaurant and food court on premises. Hopefully they won't be institutional places.

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I remember Sabri Nihari naam being very good as well. Seemed to have some ghee on it? There was a little glisten to it.

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Ate at Someburger (Studewood & 11th) yesterday at lunch. It wasn't bad and wasn't great. Looked like a pre-formed patty that went on to the flat top. I'm still trying to decide if it warrants another visit. Right now I'm thinking that if I was in the Heights, wanted a burger, and had the choices of Whataburger or Someburger, I'd get myself the latter. It definitely isn't worth the drive though.

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I'll confess to having a thing about old-timey hamburger stands and I like Someburger and have made the trip from the SW side several times just for the burgers, but I understand that kind of burger is not for everyone. I'd definitely take it over Whataburger.

I'm sure it's a preformed patty but otherwise I like the piping-hot, fresh-off-the-grill factor, which you will not always get at Whataburger, and the freshness of the ingredients. With the size of that place, I'm sure they can't store all the fixings for very long in advance!

I like the nostalgia factor too: the sign in the window which advises customers that fries and onion rings, shakes and malts come in one size only. There's not only no drive thru or kiddie playground, there's no biggie size or supersize or even indoor dining. All they need to complete the experience is some tinny speakers under the eaves blaring out Billy Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, etc.

I haven't been in about a year, though. I've always gotten the double-meat cheese but that's a bit large for my tastes and appetites now; I might not like the single meat burger as much. I think double-meat burgers were probably unheard of back in the 50s when that place was built.

It was a chain started in Austin with locations in many Texas cities and about 15 in Houston at one time. There's one other surviving location in downtown Baytown in a 1960s era building with the added amenity of indoor dining, but the burgers aren't as good.

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I remember Sabri Nihari naam being very good as well. Seemed to have some ghee on it? There was a little glisten to it.

Yes, the beef nihari was awesome. I remember thinking I could survive for months on just the gravy from the beef nihari and the naan glazed with ghee. I've never tried the beef nihari at Himalaya.

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I headed out to Mi Pueblito yesterday to sample some Colombian fare but didn’t look up the address and mis-remembered where it was and what it looked like so I passed right by the shopping center it’s in a couple times without seeing it but I did spy El Paisa in the 9300 block of Richmond and decided to try that. This is a former hamburger or ice cream stand with walk-up window service only. I tried the bandeja paisa for $6. Bandeja means tray or platter and these dishes are common in cuisines across the region. The meal included frijoles, arroz, chorizo, chicharron, skirt steak, fried egg, plantanos maduros and an arepa. It came with a soda and I chose Colombiana, a cream soda that was very weak.

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The beans were nothing special, probably pintos, but the chorizo was excellent - very spicy and similar in texture to an andouille or chaurice, not Mexican chorizo. The skirt steak was also good but the chicharron didn’t impress and the plantanos were a little underdone and not caramelized enough. The arepa was so tough as to almost be unchewable. I didn’t get a take-away menu but I remember they had empanadas and morcilla, which would be a blood sausage. The Bandeja Paisa Grande is $10. The outside eating area was clean but I took the meal and headed for home. I’d definitely go back for the chorizo.

As I was leaving the parking lot I saw Blue Nile at the other end of the center and next to that another Colombian restaurant that’s not listed on b4, La Cazuela, el palacio de la sopa, specializing in seafood the signs proclaim, and, right across the street Dodo’s and the place I had originally been looking for, Mi Pueblito. Must be a concentration of Colombians in the immediate area.

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Ran into Ron and Dorie Kerr at Himalaya yesterday. I was having a simple saag paneer, which is creamy, spinachy and at all low calorie, but a nice respite from meat for lunch. The special biriani looked up to snuff, I should have done take-out for later. Respect to new restaurants, I got 'nuthin. Last discovery was Mi Sombrero. Good to see that Bruce and John and Ron are holding the fort for new restaurant discoveries in Houston.

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Eliya's Sabri Nihari - Decided to hit this place today on a whim. The buffet wasn’t very impressive looking but I decided to try that instead of taking a chance on one item off the menu, with mixed results. None of the dishes were labeled so I’m just guessing at items: chicken tikka breast - thin curry, not spicy and not very impressive, the meat was quite dry; beef nihari - ditto except the meat was falling apart tender but this was a very disappointing dish. Goat curry - one of the best dishes but lots of bones in my servings. One aloo dish was good, a non-meat biryani also was good, the other best item. Naan is cooked within sight of the dining room, also some other items cooked to order such as kebabs. I liked that feature and the naan was good. Kheer was also good - I had just a couple of tablespoons as I was quite full. There was a different salad - carrots, tomatoes and lettuce, plus the usual cucumbers and onions.

I don’t know what’s happened to the other Sabri Nihari - a banner over the door says Chinese Halal dishes are now served. I wonder if there’s been a change of ownership? I haven’t been there in over a year, perhaps, and only went once.

This place was nicer inside than I remember the other - apricot colored linen tablecloths and napkins on the tables - but not fancy by any means. The menu has apparently been recently revamped; the lady didn’t have a current one to give me but gave me an old one. The buffet is $7.99, at least on weekdays, may be more on weekends. A strange offering - on the old menu and a sign in the window: cheese steak sandwiches?

I’ll probably give this place another try and need to get back over to Sabri Nihari sometime. This wasn’t something to rave about but not bad enough to write off on one visit. I wouldn’t bypass Himalaya for this but sometimes the speed and convenience of a buffet is just what’s needed and I think I would hit this over Bombay Sweets down the street unless I just wanted to go vegetarian for the day.

The address is 3509?? Hillcroft, next door and connected to the Indo-Pak Supermarket at 3511.

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There was an interesting article in the Chron Dining section this past week about the foods at the International Festival listing some of our city’s African restaurants. I’ve never been to Finger Lickin’ Bukateria due to the negative reviews on b4; Shanae’s, formerly Kenny’s Café, right across Bissonnet is just recently reopened (and never seems to do any business). I had never heard of Suya Hut however and decided to check it out.

This is just a 4 table hole-in-the-wall in a very new strip center, spic-and-span. The lady was very friendly and helpful.

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I tried the chicken suya (kebab) and it was very good, very juicy and flavorful with all the spices. I also had the masa, a fermented rice cake that puffs up when fried and has a mild sour taste - very good. I also tried the larsik, the green salad. I didn’t think anybody used more cilantro than Chef Kaiser at Himalaya but this is nothing but chopped cilantro, kuli-kuli (defatted groundnut flour) and some diced tomatoes and onions. The picture on the menu looked like a moist green salad but it was quite dry and could have used some moisture of some sort. I think this would be fine as a small side accompaniment to some of the plates but was a bit much as a full salad.

I had ordered a beef suya also but the lady didn’t write anything down and I didn’t get it, but I’ll be going back.

The words peanut and groundnut seem to be used interchangeably but she showed me a groundnut that looked quite a bit larger than any peanut I’ve ever seen. Apparently this groundnut flour is used a lot in the foods here so I think if you had a peanut allergy you might need to avoid this place.

There are shakers of cayenne on the tables and toothpicks, which are used for eating many of the foods, apparently. Among the beverages offered (not listed on the menu or on the website) are Bud Lite, Heineken and Guiness. There were what I assumed to be bottled waters also but as I was leaving another customer was asking about the alcohol content so I’m not sure what they are.

The website has a menu and some helpful pictures.

For future reference, when the link no longer works, it's on W. Airport about 1/2 mile west of 59S.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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bruce - suya looks pretty cool. Maybe they could squirt some lime on that cilantro salad to give it the liquid you want. Unfortunately, I'm NEVER around that side of town, but I'd like to try it.

Lunch today for me was at Laredo Taqueria on Washington. As usual, I had 3 tacos all of different fillings since you never know what will be any good. The puerco asado was pretty bad. However, the nopalitos with chile arbol was fantastic & the carne (the one on the biggest steam tray) was also outstanding. Washed it down with a tasty tamarindo. I had forgotten that their flour tortillas were homemade & almost made the mistake of getting the tacos on corn!

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bruce - suya looks pretty cool.  Maybe they could squirt some lime on that cilantro salad to give it the liquid you want.  Unfortunately, I'm NEVER around that side of town, but I'd like to try it.

Lunch today for me was at Laredo Taqueria on Washington.  As usual, I had 3 tacos all of different fillings since you never know what will be any good.  The puerco asado was pretty bad.  However, the nopalitos with chile arbol was fantastic & the carne (the one on the biggest steam tray) was also outstanding.  Washed it down with a tasty tamarindo.  I had forgotten that their flour tortillas were homemade & almost made the mistake of getting the tacos on corn!

Have you tried the tacos at Guadalahara down the street from Laredo? Its about to close down but the tacos are addictive. Barbaqoa and pork are my favorite.

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Hit BBs for lunch today - it was dining out for Aids day and they were participating. Very good roast beef poboy - better than I remembered. The requisite amount of messiness for a RB poboy and very filling. I hit them very soon after opening, I wonder if maybe before they had their act together?

Veggie bisque was also good.

I was thinking I was going to try putting some of the Cajun Chef hot sauce on the sandwich - I've been eating mostly South American lately and it's not spicy - but forgot.

Kerr - good idea on the lime juice. I'm craving some more of that and want to try the beef suya for sure. Maybe I'll get some larsik to bring home and try it. The groundnut powder just soaked up any moisture in the cilantro or tomatoes. I was thinking a light spritz of some oil but lime might be better.

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scar - yes, I've been to Guadalajara Bakery & Tacos many times. (as an aside, I'm always amused by the tiny '&' on their sign) I like their tacos, but honestly the place kinda gives me the creeps. You walk in & you're probably the only customer. The guy behind the counter might say 2 words. After you order, he slinks off to the back without saying anything & you're wondering what's going on (actually, he's getting you some fresh tortillas, but you wouldn't know your 1st time there).

However I do give them bonus points for always having some sort of filling that you might not find elsewhere around town - some mixture of ingredients that's unique.

I tried BB's the other day. Top notch roast beef po-boy & gumbo as well. And....I do like the vibe in that joint.

Lunch today was at Zydeco on Pease. Man....they never disappoint. Smothered pork chops dipped in a thin roux and served over rice, corn & okra & cornbread on the side. All very tasty.

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Suya Hut revisit.

I tried the jollof rice with lansir and beef suya with masa as a side.

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The beef is cube steak and there was still a little pink in some of the pieces. The exterior was kind of pasty from the powdered groundroot that is part of the coating. The chicken suya is better.

I have a week and a half’s worth of leftover rice! That was about 4 cups worth.

The lansir was not as dry, probably because of being steamed, closed up in the box on the way home. Lime and evoo helped a little, especially with the passage of a little time. Maybe some more chopped tomato would be good, too.

The beverages in the cooler included Emu, a Top Palm Juice according to the label, palm wine according to the sign on the cooler door; there’s an article on palm wine in Wikipedia. Also, Star, a lager from Ghana, and Smirnoff Ice. A small but eclectic selection.

Kerr I have to get down and try Zydeco.

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I ate there awhile ago and must have hit them on a bad day. I appluad them for doing the hand cut fries but they weren't fried correctly IMO. And the spicey burger was decent but the regular burger was not good at all. choc shake was one of the worst I have eveer had. Robb Walsh and Allisson Cook both love the place though? I could name 20 places I would rather have a burger.

I tied Tornado burger again and this time I really liked it. The spicey burger was nice and very juicy. Hand cut fries were very good.

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I'll have to try and get back there again. I tried the Taqueria next door, it was OK. I just can't wait for them to finish the road work in the area. I tried a new place (new to me) Taqueria Marquez on W. Airport just West of hwy 6 S, The barbacoa & lengua tacos were better than I've been able to find around here.

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I'll have to try and get back there again.  I tried the Taqueria next door, it was OK.  I just can't wait for them to finish the road work in the area.  I tried a new place (new to me) Taqueria Marquez on W. Airport just West of hwy 6 S,  The barbacoa & lengua tacos were better than I've been able to find around here.

I have not been in a long time but the s american place at eh corner of 59 and wilcrest is worth a shot. La Fonda maybe? Like I said its been a long time.

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I'll have to try and get back there again.  I tried the Taqueria next door, it was OK.  I just can't wait for them to finish the road work in the area.  I tried a new place (new to me) Taqueria Marquez on W. Airport just West of hwy 6 S,  The barbacoa & lengua tacos were better than I've been able to find around here.

I have not been in a long time but the s american place at eh corner of 59 and wilcrest is worth a shot. La Fonda maybe? Like I said its been a long time.

The one over by where Mangola's used to be? If that's the one, then I've been there about 5 or 6 times and nothing was really good.

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La Fogata is across from where Mangola's used to be - Colombian. I've had several good meals there but it varies. They have lengua sudada but I haven't tried it and I don't see any barbacoa on the menu.

There's a place at Wilcrest at Bissonnet, Nortenita, a carniceria. Used to be called Celaya # 4?, was mentioned in Robb Walsh's carniceria blog last year. Always busy. I've been meaning to try it but haven't gotten around to it.

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I've seen the sign for La Fogata but I always seem to be going in the wrong direction. I'll have to make a point of dropping in soon.

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Lengua Sudada, beef tongue in sauce, $8.50 - no tacos here. Best thing I've had, and apparently their most popular offering, is Bandeja Montanero, or Mountain Tray, chicharron, plantanos maduros, frijoles rojos, arroz, fried egg, avocado, sobrebarriaga (skirt steak) - $5.75 on the lunch menu, $8 on the regular menu. My first experience, several months ago, of any Colombian food other than rotisserie chicken at Dodo's or Pollo Rico. Recently had it again after trying it at several other Colombian restaurants and wasn't as impressed, though it's still good. Portions seem to have shrunk a little.

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This is the lunch plate, a generous amount of food for the price. I wanted to try the chorizo which isn't included on the plate here like at other Colombian restaurants so I ordered it off the breakfast menu - $3, including an arepa. It was pretty good, mix of coarse and fine ground, not as much fat as others - not as juicy, so not quite as good. I've been very impressed with Colombian chorizos, though.

It's a family run place, similar in feel to Cafe Pita +, and I like it for that reason, but the kitchen does seem to have its ups and downs.

I had a craving for a hot dog today and James Coney Island wasn't going to cut it so I headed over to Bubba's Texas burger shack under the Westpark Tollroad for a bison chili dog - pretty good. A much more substantial and satisfying wiener than any at JCI; I've had it before with a crispy French bread roll but it was just a Mrs. Baird's sandwich roll today, a disappointment.

On the way home I stopped off at Holy Land Halal Meats, 9801 Bissonnet, across the parking lot from Finger Lickin' Bukateria. The signs in the window list an impressive array of items for sale but there's no printed menu and all I can remember that was unusual was Fish Tea Soup? A small selection of canned goods, many with Goya labels, some that have been on the shelves for ages and have faded labels, Grace products, which I think are from Jamaica, even canned Gebhardt tamales. Bags of herbs and spices I couldn't identify - probably either Caribbean or African; they have fresh and frozen meats.

Hot food deli/3 small tables. They start serving at 9am and by the time I got there very little was left. I tried a Jamaican style beef pattie - piping hot, very good, though not at all spicy, perhaps baked rather than fried? A nice quick snack. They still had some goat's feet and a beef dish and smoked fish. On the weekends the lady said they have a bigger choice including jerk chicken.

Interesting place - I'll try again.

I had a craving for fried chicken the other day and visited Pollo Campero on Bellaire for the first time in a long time -- very disappointing. The chicken had been under the heat lamp too long and was dry - I don't recall ever having that experience before. Noticed saltiness of one piece but the others were okay by me. Fries also had been out of the fryer too long. No where near as good as I remembered but it's been a couple of years perhaps.

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Saffron Persian Cafe on Hillcroft, between Harwin and Westpark, on the second floor.

I've been wondering about this place for some time and someone finally posted a review on b4 that was pretty positive. I was surprised to find it's a counter-service type place, and pretty nice for that genre. The man was very friendly but difficult to understand.

I had the tah deeg appetizer - the crispy rice - topped with Gormeh sabzi - stewed beef with parsley and kidney beans. The complimentary appetizer plate included onion wedge, radish, walnut, mint, curly leaf parsley, cilantro and panir, the Iranian version of feta. Apparently with the paid appetizer I also got a cup of thick soup that might have had rice or orzo in it, a pot of hot tea (about 3 cups), and a thin, crispy Persian bread about the size of a deflated football, I think nan-e-lavash although the waitress said it was taftoon. I liked this bread better than the taftoon I had a Kasra last year.

The tah deeg was crispy throughout. This is my first experience of this - I thought it was supposed to be fluffy on one side, crispy on the other.

By the time I finished the appetizers (only half the lavash), I was full, but I had also ordered the kabob kubideh - on Persian bread rather than rice since I wanted to be sure to sample the bread. Then I understood why the man had asked if I was sure I wanted it on bread rather than rice. The menu board does not spell out what all comes with the appetizers!

I wound up with a lot of food to take home including 3/4 of the bread I was served, all for $10.

My waitress was very good. Even though it's a counter service place she regularly checked on me and was very friendly. I had guessed she was Hispanic from her looks until she spoke.

This would make a good quick lunch spot except for the perpetual traffic jam on Hillcroft and Harwin these days. Perhaps things will improve when they finish that construction along there.

There are stairs, an escalator, and elevators, and additional parking in a garage in the back.

I'm looking forward to returning.

There are some pretty pictures of the food on the website, although unfortunately not identified.

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Saba’s - Kosher/Dairy, Fondren @ South Braeswood, Houston

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Moroccan Cigars ($8.75) - the generic term is cigarim. Crispy, crunchy, deep-fried Kosher veggie taquitos (potato fillings). I loved these. The hummus was a little grainy and the spices flat on this occasion. The simple Israeli salad is just diced cucumber, tomato and bell pepper.

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Sabich Plate (sah BEECH)($6.95) - I understand from Wiki this dish is from Iraq. Eggplant (sabich), hummus (much better this time), Israeli salad, harissa, hard-boiled egg and a piping hot, thick and almost fluffy pita that was excellent. The eggplant was chilled - I thought it would be better warm - but I made 2 very satisfying veggie gyros out of this and could have made maybe 2 more. Next time I’m going to ask for a second pita and maybe zap the eggplant briefly to heat it. The egg was unfortunately a standard issue, tasteless supermarket egg, a disapointment.

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Malawach pizza (mah LAH wah)($5.75). Wiki says this is from Yemen - malawach is multiple layers of thin, deep-fried crepes. The crust on this was close to a half inch thick before the toppings went on and it went in the oven; unfortunately it not only collapsed but got sodden and wasn’t as interesting as I expected it to be. The only place to appreciate the flakiness of the crust was around the edges. Maybe pizza is not the best way to experience malawach - they also have a malawach roll (wrap?), malawach plate and plain malawach. I’m thinking of maybe getting the latter and sprinkling some herbs and spices and grated cheese on it after it’s out of the oven and making a pie that way.

My favorite items on the menu so far have been the cheesecake ($4.25 a slice) and spinach bureka. The full size burekas ($2.75) fill most of an 8" paper plate and are made with phyllo. They are also available in potato, mushroom and cheese and snack-sized for $.99 each. I’ve found the snack sized ones have very little filling and aren’t that satisfying.

They have many salads, pasta dishes, and fish, including fish and chips and Moroccan Style Salmon. Also egg dishes; I was planning on trying the shakshuka which is supposed to be the Israeli version of huevos rancheros, but I hate eating tasteless eggs so I’m thinking I’ll pass. They have regular pizzas (9" and 12"), cheese, veggie, deep dish, stuffed crust and bagel varieties. The worst thing I’ve had was a reheated slice of veggie pizza which was badly over cooked and I’ve seen others served like that - if you want pizza here, get a whole one, not a re-heated slice.

The dining accomodations are very plain - there’s a counter and tables; often they set tables on the sidewalk outside but it’s a rundown, mostly empty shopping center with a pock-marked parking lot and there isn’t any view. Dining-in means paper plates and plastic utensils so mostly I’ve gotten take-out. The restaurant is open at 9am until 7:30 or 8, closes mid-afternoon Friday and is closed on Saturday and was closed 10 days for Passover.

Being kosher it’s a bit pricey but it’s been very satisfying and it’s only 3 minutes from my house so it works for me; I can even hike it in nice weather.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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I saw the review of Cafe Inka in the Press last week and since I've been investigating South American eateries the last few months I planned to check it out when I went to Phoenicia Saturday (it's just a little farther out Westheimer). But I wasn't hungry enough for a big meal so just stopped in the coffee/sandwich shop next door.

They have a small selection of sandwiches, Hawaiian, Cuban, turkey, a couple of roast beefs. I tried the Hawaiian - honey ham, prosciutto, provolone and pineapple. It was on a soft bun that was heated in a press but not toasted, the cheese was the predominant taste. Okay but nothing really special.

They serve Katz coffee however and it was very good. I chose the Crescent City Blend and had a small cafe au lait (12 oz) for $1.80. I think the sandwich was $5.50.

Young, enthusiastic and friendly staff.

Looking forward to hitting the resto soon.

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Everyone has to go make it out to H-mart on blalock, the new Korean supermarket just a block off of I-10. Though I wasn't impressed by every item from the food court, it beats the pants off of Ko-mart which in my opinion sunk into a very depressed state. There's Korean fried chicken chain that's good, but oddly sweet in taste, though if you get the korean spiced fried chicken, it won't matter because your face is going to be burned off. The Korean Snack Stand has a huge korean omelet that was delicious, and there's also several types of bibimbap, served in the superheated stone bowls if you would like, though those take about 20 minutes to receive.

Produce an product wise, this is the best selection you'll get short of going down to Bellaire. There's dried and fresh noodles, lots of Ramen, and also your run of the mill Asian produce, includng the all-important durian. The best, however, is the super-fresh and reasonably priced fish area, where yesterday's selection included whole albacore tunas for 2.99 a pound, black cod, grouper, belt fish, several different types of mackeral, live lobsters for 6.99 a pound, milkfish, and a whole bunch more. Then of course is your live tilapia and catfish.

Either way, I urge you all to go give it a shot, for me, it's much closer than chinatown and I would make a trip by itself just because of the fish.

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