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Texas food trail: Houston -- try something new!


jscarbor
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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. ...

thanks for the tip. i was never impressed with anything i tasted at komart but the bibimbap and a couple soups even though i keep going to take friends there for the experience. can't wait to check out h-mart!

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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just went to tortas el angel for a late lunch. i had the cubano too. the bread was delicious, the quesilla cheese was good but would have been better melted. the ham and pork (both cold) were nothing too special. but when i put some of the salsa verde on it -- oh my gosh it was completely transformed into a whole other level of deliciousness.

my dining companion had a torta with chorizo and it was excellent! the chorizo was in flavorful, in largish chunks, had a great crispy texture, and wasn't greasy.

i look forward to going back. maybe this time i'll try the tortaburger that robb walsh wrote about in his review. or one with eggs a la mexicana, bacon and melted cheese.

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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just went to tortas el angel for a late lunch. i had the cubano too. the bread was delicious, the quesilla cheese was good but would have been better melted. the ham and pork (both cold) were nothing too special. but when i put some of the salsa verde on it -- oh my gosh it was completely transformed into a whole other level of deliciousness.

my dining companion had a torta with chorizo and it was excellent! the chorizo was in flavorful, in largish chunks, had a great crispy texture, and wasn't greasy.

i look forward to going back. maybe this time i'll try the tortaburger that robb walsh wrote about in his review. or one with eggs a la mexicana, bacon and melted cheese.

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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The fajita and egg torta is probably my favorite. The burger is good despite the subpar patty. If the patty were better it would be one of the best sandwiches around.

The verde sauce is important!

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La Sani, Pakistani, 9621 Bissonnet, 1 block off 59, behind a Burger King.

The foodinhouston blogger recently named this one of the 10 best cheap eats places in Houston and linked back to his 2006 review; I've also found a very positive review by Robb Walsh in the Press from 2003. This is in the same center with Lo Nuestro and New Filipiana but easy to miss; it's actually right at the intersection of Plainfield and Ponderosa and surprisingly has a Bissonnet address.

Lunch buffet - $9.99. Better than half Anglo customers when I was there.

Besides the typical Pakistani salad there was the option of a tossed salad with tomato wedges - only one dressing, though.

The best dishes were the beef masala - very, very spicy - and chicken jalafra (?), which was not quite so spicy but still very good. Both could have been braised a bit longer to tenderize the meat. Also good was the kari palora (?), described as a traditional yoghurt dish and which looked an awful lot like Swedish meatballs and gravy, lo'ola (?), a ragout like vegetable dish, and the kheer. The chicken chargha and daal were not that impressive. I did not try the brown rice or chicken corn soup. The naan, pita sized, comes out hot and fresh as needed, cut in wedges, and was very good.

I appreciated the clear signage identifying each dish on the buffet - just wish I was better at remembering.

They did not have a copy of the menu for take away and their website (lasanirestaurant.net), listed on the business card, appears to just be parked, so I don't know what else is on the menu. The buffet is served 11-3.

I did not encounter anything as spicy as both Walsh and the foodinhouston blogger remarked upon.

After just one visit I'd rate it the best Pakistani I've experienced other than Himalaya, and worth more visits. It's very convenient to me.

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Nortenita - carniceria, fruteria, etc.

10880 Bissonnet, just before Wilcrest, outbound

Used to be known as Celaya # 5

I had 3 tacos - al pastor, pollo and chicharron. The meats were dry and overcooked but the tacos were saved by a pretty good salsa, medium heat +, blood orange color. I was checking out the rest of the store while she made them and didn't see if it came out of a jar but I'm guessing they make it themselves.

They had lengua and barbacoa on the menu also and from the signs tamales are a weekend specialty so I think I'll go back to try them soon.

No English spoken by the senorita but some customers were helping out, though they really didn't need to, I know enough Spanish to get by. I'm guessing not many Anglos come in here from the looks I got.

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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....

justin, thanks for the rec on super h-mart. i ended up going the day after your post and really enjoyed it. i posted a review in a new thread.

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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Restaurante y Taqueria San Juan, 501 W. Main, Baytown

I first happened across this place by accident several months ago owing to a confusion over North, South and West Main streets in Baytown. It's located just west of the intersection of South Main and West Main and a couple of blocks east of the original location of the Baytown Seafood Co.

I was attracted by the sign, actually on the building next door, proclaiming they serve trompo and cabrito, among other things.

I remembered the series Robb Walsh did in the Press a year or so ago on the search for authentic trompo in Houston, which he found to be impossible due to health department restrictions. Outside of the purview of the Houston Health Department, I wondered if San Juan did authentic trompo and if I would be able to tell the difference.

I finally went there this week on another trip to Baytown. The tacos de trompo come 5 to an order, small, 4" sized corn tortillas, and contain both beef and pork according to the menu. They're topped with a generous portion of grilled, sliced onions and cilantro. The tortillas were quite greasy. The salsas, in squeeze bottles, included a mild red one and a heatless creamy green one. The owner wanted to make sure I knew this was authentic Mexican food, not Tex-Mex.

The meat was probably the tenderest I've had in tacos like this but not the most flavorful, although the red salsa helped. I definitely prefer chopped raw onions to the grilled onions and a hotter salsa to top them off, and they were just okay.

The frijoles charros contained a very generous amount of pork fat and skin along with the beans, some chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos; they were good.

The chips were medium thick. I never buy chips in a grocery store so I can't say if they were store bought but they were smallish and preseasoned, perhaps cooked in a seasoned oil ?, but not fresh out of the fryer.

Despite the exterior sign I saw no cabrito on the menu. One of the posters on b4 indicates the owners have had to cut back on a more ambitious menu. I did see tacos de molleja (sweet breads), tacos a vapor (steamed tacos with potatoes, beans, meat and cabbage) and tacos de barbacoa among others. They also have tortas and rellenitas - gorditas - with the same selection of meats.

The restaurant is quite small on the inside but there's a covered patio with booths and also tables scattered about a landscaped courtyard and at the rear a covered, open-air bar (mixed drinks available). It's a picturesque setting and almost makes me wish I lived in BT so I could spend more time there.

I have found another taqueria in BT which is pretty good - Taqueria El Sol de Mexico, one of six by that name around the Houston area - on Business 146, where I've had some very good breakfast tacos with hand-made flour tortillas and a good firey, smokey salsa and a very good lunch of enchiladas rojos con pollo which, much to my surprise, came with a beautiful fried chicken thigh, one of the best pieces of fried chicken I've had in some time.

There are some other interesting looking taqueria shacks around BT also that I haven't gotten to, mostly on the E and SE side it seems. Good to know you don't have to resort to Chili's or Ryan's if you have to have a bite in BT.

I won't hesitate to go back to San Juan for another visit but I'll try something else off the menu.

Maybe I'll delay my return to Houston into the evening hours so I can sit out in the courtyard and soak up some of the nitelife of old Pelly.

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Outside of the purview of the Houston Health Department, I wondered if San Juan did authentic trompo and if I would be able to tell the difference.

aww, no photos bruce? you're killing me, so did they use a vertical roaster trompo?

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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Outside of the purview of the Houston Health Department, I wondered if San Juan did authentic trompo and if I would be able to tell the difference.

aww, no photos bruce? you're killing me, so did they use a vertical roaster trompo?

Sorry, didn't have the cam. The owner spoke very little English. I tried to ascertain, making a circular motion with my hands while saying trompo and he nodded yes, but I didn't see it. As I understand it the criticial factor is whether the meat goes on the spit raw or, per COH Health regs, pre-cooked and is only kept warm on the spit. I don't have the Spanish to ascertain that.

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Tried a new tamaleria. Jay Francis tipped me to El Tio on Airline across from Teotihuacan. Got there just ahead of closing (mid-afternoon) and they reheated some for me.

Very good fillings - pork and chicken only - I liked the pork best. A little dry for my taste; I like a very wet tamale. Very nice size. $6/half doz, $9/doz.

Also enjoyed a visit to the new El Bolillo which was bustling.

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i have 2 opportunities to try something new to share:

ONE. for anyone interested in dinner @ Feast this sunday night, i have 1 spot left for a group dinner with other houston foodies. the chef will be preparing an 8 course tasting menu for us. the cost is $40 not including tax or tip.

here is feast's website: http://feasthouston.googlepages.com/home

here is alison cooke's review of feast from last week: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/dining/cook/5792967.html

TWO. i'm in the process of organizing a flavor tripping party where i will procure some miracle fruit and we will have a tasting of various foods and beverages to see how our taste buds are affected by the 'miracle' berries. read yesterday's article on miracle fruit in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/dining/28flavor.html?

to attend either event (or events in the future), please go to the following website and RSVP to the appropriate message: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/houstonCH/join

(the yahoo group was originally set up to organize real-life meet ups on chowhound since we can't private message or email on that site, but membership is open to all houston foodies, especially the hardcore eG foodies!)

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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I tried a new place today, Brenda's Taqueria, on Bissonnet between the Beltway & 59 South. I had the the al pastor & fajita tacos. The al pastor were good, the fajita tacos were OK.

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I tried a new place today, Brenda's Taqueria, on Bissonnet between the Beltway &  59 South.  I had the the al pastor & fajita tacos.  The al pastor were good, the fajita tacos were OK.

I think this is a chain or at least multiple location operation - there are 2 listed on b4 and besides that I've seen a couple of others including one on Bissonnet @ Hillcroft.

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Jay Francis recently alerted me to his quest for the elusive Torta Ahogada in Houston. I had no idea what he was talking about until I looked it up. It’s a specialty of Guadalajara, a drowned or dipped sandwich, drowned in chili sauce. Yeah, that got my attention too.

I found that they serve one at Paparruchos, on Sage @ Hidalgo, just doors from Alexander the Great Greek and notified Jay. I don’t think he’s gotten around to trying it but I found a good description on-line of what it’s supposed to be like so I headed over there to check it out.

gallery_58650_5736_54147.jpg

Just judging from the linked article I don’t think they’re using the right bread (birote) but it was a pretty tasty sandwich, soggy from the get-go, however. Lots of very tender pork in nice sized pieces, black beans, with a side of a black bean/lettuce taco which unfortunately also got soggy.

The drowning sauce was mild as was the restaurant's salsa but the red sauce in the little cup added some heat, about the level of sriracha, say, which is adequate for me. I think if I try this again I would ask for both the drowning sauce and hot sauce on the side and maybe a little more of the hot stuff.

Obviously I’m not an expert on this and would love to find more to taste.

I only ate out twice this week, at this place and Virgie’s - this was the better meal.

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Revisit: La Sani (post # 130).

Mutton biryani was very good. The one dish I've had at Himalaya which I was a little disappointed in was lamb biryani - this was better. What I reported as Chicken Jalafra above should have been Chicken Jalfrazi. Daal was more impressive this time. I missed trying the aloo mutter - looked good but I didn't have room on the plate and dishes were covered when I took a second pass to get more biryani and I didn't remember it down at the other end of the line.

Had a nice chap with the owner. With food this good from a buffet I'm looking forward to an evening visit to order from the menu. The lunch buffet is 6 days a week (they're closed Tuesdays) and also on holidays when they're open.

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I went to Gigi's Asian Bistro next door to Del Frisco's in the Galleria recently and had a really nice meal. This place is pretty pricey but if you are in the Galleria I don't know if you can do better? The knockout dish of the evening was the green curry short rib with thai eggplant. It was silky smooth goodness for your mouth and tummy. Had a fried fish in chili sauce that was good but would probably skip it next time in order to try something different. Apps were dried beef which was very good and some crab dumplings in a butter sauce, delicate little morsels.

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Nyonya Grill - Malaysian/Mongolian?

5201 Hwy 6 S, Suite 750, Missouri City, TX, between Dulles and FM 1092/Murphy, north side of the highway.

Read about this on another local forum recently and wanted to try it out. It's my first experience of Malaysian. From what I understand the restaurant originally took over a Mongolian Grill place and kept that concept they moved it to their new location.

I looked at the 'buffet' but nothing was labeled and I judged it would involve making lots of choices so I went with the menu and ordered Beef Rendang ($7.95 lunch special) and Roti Canai (Indian pancake with curry dipping sauce, $3.45) for an appetizer. I was going to go for the ginger and scallion beef but asked the waitress and she recommended the Rendang as 'more Malaysian.' Hmmm, does that mean more Americanized Malaysian???

Staff was friendly, very casual; one waitress looked a little perturbed when I whipped out my camera but she had nothing to worry about.

Best part of the meal was the fluffy, puffy, slightly crispy roti and the dipping sauce - also looked the best. The beef rendang was interesting but I'd say I didn't like it as well as some of the beef or for that matter goat or mutton curries at Himalaya or La Sani but since it's my first experience I'll reserve further judgment. The menu says they use non-trans fat oil in the cooking but there was a lot of oil on the plate. There are lots of interesting things on the menu to try and I'm sure I'll be back.

Re: the pictures. I put some new batteries in the cam before leaving home, 'best before 2013' the package said, took a couple of shots in the back yard to make sure they were working and set off. 25 mins later they were dead as a doornail. I'm beginning to think there may be a problem w/the cam - none of the batteries I've used lately have lasted very long (but this is ridiculous). Either that or HEB batteries just aren't worth poot.

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I don't know where I saw a review of Best Burger in Stafford, whether it was here or somewhere else. Today I was in the area and had some time on my hands so I went to look for it. I ordered a bacon cheesburger combo to go for $5 + change I got the burger, fries and a fountain drink. The flamebroiled burger was good, the beef patty looked uniformly thin but was irregulary shaped so it may be hand made. I ordered it no lettuce/tomato so all that accompanied the patty/bacon/cheese were grilled onions, pickles , mustard and mayo. The grilled onions were not carmelized so they kept their structure. Overall the burger was good. The fries were something I've never had before. I guess I should say I have had them before, mushy crinkle cut store bought fries. Sometimes thery are just mushy and sometimes they are greasy and mushy. These fries were neither mushy nor greasy they were crisp, crisp in a way I've never had crinkle cut store bought fries. I don't know what they did but they were crispy on the outside and creamy (it's the only word to describe it) on the inside. I tried the first one in the car on the way back to my office in Sugar Land and they stayed crispy all the way back to the last fry eaten at my desk. I'm going back for dinner. They have a Chinese food menu also but I'm going to stick to the burgers for the time being. If someone on this thread mentioned Best Burger, then big thanks!

Edited: spelling

Edited by JimH (log)
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I don't know where I saw a review of Best Burger in Stafford, whether it was here or somewhere else.  Today I was in the area and had some time on my hands so I went to look for it.  I ordered a bacon cheesburger combo to go for $5 + change I got the burger, fries and a fountain drink.  The flamebroiled burger was good, the beef patty looked uniformly thin but was irregulary shaped so it may be hand made.  I ordered it no lettuce/tomato so all that accompanied the patty/bacon/cheese were grilled onions, pickles , mustard and mayo.  The grilled onions were not carmelized so they kept their structure.  Overall the burger was good.  The fries were something I've never had before.  I guess I should say I have had them before, mushy crinkle cut store bought fries.  Sometimes thery are just mushy and sometimes they are greasy and mushy.  These fries were neither mushy nor greasy they were crisp, crisp in a way I've never had crinkle cut store bought fries.  I don't know what they did but they were crispy on the outside and creamy (it's the only word to describe it) on the inside.  I tried the first one in the car on the way back to my office in Sugar Land and they stayed crispy all the way back to the last fry eaten at my desk.  I'm going back for dinner.  They have a Chinese food menu also but I'm going to stick to the burgers for the time being.  If someone on this thread mentioned Best Burger, then big thanks!

Edited: spelling

I've seen a good review of this place somewhere too and had it on my list to try for some time. Went by there coming and going on the way to Nyonya - thanks for the heads up. Good burger joints are few and far between on this side of town.

Re: the fries - I've noticed in the last couple of years places that serve those crinkle-cut fries have been putting out a better product, like for instance Someburger in the Heights. Maybe some advance in potato technology? or they all went to French Fry school after reading lots of bad reviews?

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I'm going to have to check out Nyonya when I get the chance. I didn't make it back to Best Burger last night. Those fries were the first crinkle cut I've ever enjoyed, when I first looked into the bag and saw them I was "Oh well, I came for the burger" but they were a big supprise. I'm now ruined for all other crinkle cut fries.

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Nyonya Grill - Malaysian/Mongolian?

Thanks for the heads up about this place. I'm moving to Houston in a couple of weeks and one of my very favorite restaurants on the planet is the Banana Leaf, a Malaysian place out in the SF south bay area. So I'm pleased to know that along with all the other fine eateries in Houston, Malay cuisine is also available.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I don't know where I saw a review of Best Burger in Stafford, whether it was here or somewhere else.  Today I was in the area and had some time on my hands so I went to look for it.  I ordered a bacon cheesburger combo to go for $5 + change I got the burger, fries and a fountain drink.  The flamebroiled burger was good, the beef patty looked uniformly thin but was irregulary shaped so it may be hand made.  I ordered it no lettuce/tomato so all that accompanied the patty/bacon/cheese were grilled onions, pickles , mustard and mayo.  The grilled onions were not carmelized so they kept their structure.  Overall the burger was good.  The fries were something I've never had before.  I guess I should say I have had them before, mushy crinkle cut store bought fries.  Sometimes thery are just mushy and sometimes they are greasy and mushy.  These fries were neither mushy nor greasy they were crisp, crisp in a way I've never had crinkle cut store bought fries.  I don't know what they did but they were crispy on the outside and creamy (it's the only word to describe it) on the inside.  I tried the first one in the car on the way back to my office in Sugar Land and they stayed crispy all the way back to the last fry eaten at my desk.  I'm going back for dinner.  They have a Chinese food menu also but I'm going to stick to the burgers for the time being.  If someone on this thread mentioned Best Burger, then big thanks!

Edited: spelling

or they all went to French Fry school after reading lots of bad reviews?

Man that is funny. There are a whole host of places that I wish we could send to French Fry School.

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Nyonya Grill - Malaysian/Mongolian?

Thanks for the heads up about this place. I'm moving to Houston in a couple of weeks and one of my very favorite restaurants on the planet is the Banana Leaf, a Malaysian place out in the SF south bay area. So I'm pleased to know that along with all the other fine eateries in Houston, Malay cuisine is also available.

Malaysian restaurants in Houston.

If you're going to be moving to Houston you'll find b4 helpful. With regard to my part of town I find only about 60-70% of restaurants are listed but it is probably the most complete listing. Reviews are populist in nature for the most part but there are some very good posters, including some eGulleteers, and also some obvious ringers. It's useful for the maps if nothing else since you can search by part of town and zip code as well as cuisine.

I look forward to your contributions to the discussions here on the eG Texas board, pahdnuh.

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