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Found 8 results

  1. Samurai Noodle, on Durham in the Heights opened in 2015 as the 1st Houston location of a small Seattle, Washington chain of ramen joints. I stopped in for lunch yesterday, and was surprised to find a nearly full restaurant. Given the heat/humidity, a steaming bowl of tonkotsu didn't really grab me, but Samurai offers 3 tsukemen options: a cold fish-based broth (described as "sweet"), a "peppery" chicken broth, and a spicy version of the chicken. I went with the basic peppery chicken broth ("Tetsu-max"), with "firm" noodles (you can specify the chewiness of your noodles, from soft to extra-firm). The house-made noodles were indeed firm, and I would not recommend venturing below this level, if you aren't into mushy noodles. The broth was strong and salty, as it should be, augmented with shredded pork, bamboo, and bits of nori. Condiments on the table included pickled ginger and chili sauce if you cared to dress up your bowl further. The portion of noodles was reasonable for lunch, though I imagine if I were here for dinner, I might ask for an extra serving, or maybe order some gyoza or karaage to start. There were a couple families with small children, and they have high chairs available if you need that sort of thing.
  2. Great lunch today at Nam Eatery in the Heights. This is a clean (both in terms of sanitation and in decor), brightly lit joint with an unfortunate "umsa-umsa" dance music soundtrack playing. We had just finished a school tour with the 3-year old, and despite the hot & humid weather, he opted for the child's-sized pho with meatballs and a homemade passion fruit limeade. The pho was a great size (I would love to be able to order that size so I could sample other dishes), and comes out bare, ready to be dressed at the "pho vegetables" station up front (complete with hoisin and a few different chili and sauce options). I'd give the broth a 7/10. Light and clear, but with a reasonable depth of flavor. I look forward to comparing and contrasting with other places around town. The limeade was delicious, and I'll have to dig deeper into the long list of fruit teas and smoothies they offer. My banh mi with house paté and 2 over easy fried eggs was great, made even better with a schmear of smoky chili paste taken from the sauce selection. The baguette was appropriately light and crispy. I originally ordered the "combination," with steamed pork roll and cold cuts, but they no longer serve it because "no one ever ordered it." For shame, Houstonians. For shame. Cristina's "shaking tofu" vermicelli bowl was fantastic, with nicely fried cubes of tofu, sautéed onion and halved garlic cloves, along with the typical vegetable accompaniments. The fish sauce accompaniment was delicious, though a little less acidic than I'm used to. Not a complaint, just an observation. A shared shrimp "spring roll" was a fresh, herb-packed roll I've more often seen called a "summer roll," served with the standard peanut sauce for dipping. Nothing life-changing here, but a fine rendition. Given its proximity to our new house, Nam will assuredly be in the rotation, and I look forward to further exploring the menu. (Also, bring back the combination banh mi! I'll order it.)
  3. 2 new BBQ places opened in the Heights over the past few months (Willow's and Victorian), and I finally got around to trying one. Scott Sandlin wrote a glowing review over on Houston Food Finder, and I largely agree with him. We got a couple 2 meat plates, with brisket, ribs, and turkey. The brisket was nicely done, moist, with well-rendered fat. Assertive pepper bark, just as I like it. The ribs were similarly seasoned, and juuuuust a little on the tough side. Not "tough," just not quite as tender as I'm used to. The turkey was very well done - juicy and so, so deliciously smoky. Sides were pretty good, and all had a bit of spice to them. Creamed corn had bits of jalapeño, but when I want creamed corn with BBQ, I still think Killen's. The potato salad is mustardy, with a bit of creole spice. Charro beans are chock full of diced chiles. The "Flaming Lips" slaw was not quite as spicy as I'd been lead to believe, but was a nice counterpoint to the richness of the meat, and a nice alternative to a mayonnaise-based slaw. Overall a solid choice, and though we got it to go (I'm still struggling through the flu, and have no business being out in public), I think the best way to enjoy this is with a couple beers outside at Big Star.
  4. Cristina and I ducked out of a business cocktail thing early and took advantage of the fact that we had a sitter, and stopped into the relatively new Star Fish on Heights Blvd for a drink and snacks. The chilled seafood tower did not disappoint. Drinks menu is extensive, and will reward multiple return trips to make my way through the various martinis, gin & tonics, and sparkling wines. The "Saltwater" G&T, with star anise and "ocean water tincture" was delicious...a hint of brine, but nothing crazy.
  5. I'm way overdue in writing something about Field & Tides, considering it's become kind of a go-to for us. The food is vaguely Southern in inspiration. I've been 3-4 times, and honestly never had a bad dish. In general, I've enjoyed their starters a bit more than the mains, though that's my experience at most restaurants. Great brunch/lunch menus, and as befits a Heights restaurant, they have great kid options without pandering.
  6. I patiently waited for a legit bagel place to open near me in DC, and one did (Bullfrog Bagels)...less than a year before we moved away to Houston. Underwhelmed with what folks called the "best" bagels in Houston (Hot Bagel Shop), we began patiently waiting again. Reader, my wait is over. Golden Bagels is the real deal. Perhaps the realest deal I've had since Pick-A-Bagel. I've had both the everything and the sesame. My standards. Firm. Chewy, but not overly dense. These aren't shitty coffee cart bread circles. The spreads are all made in house, and more than get the job done. Sesame bagel + scallion is my #1, followed closely by everything + lox cream cheese. The bialy we tried was a little too puffy for my tastes, but YMMV. They recently launched lunch, which is sure to be popular among the Heights crowd as well. My "build your own reuben" with an everything bagel + pastrami + sauerkraut + mustard was delicious. The pastrami is sliced thin and griddled with melty Swiss cheese. The top/bottom of the bagel is sliced off to give a flat sandwich service.
  7. On my eternal quest to truly know tacos, I stopped in at La Fondita Michoacana a few blocks from my house in the Heights the other day and was not disappointed. Situated next door to Tortas El Angel (another place I need to explore), it ain't much to look at, but all of the middle-aged ladies working the kitchen and register were super friendly, even when my halting Spanish wasn't quite enough to meet their halting English. The standard taco fillings are represented, and served on freshly made flour or corn tortillas. The pastor and barbacoa were fantastic on flour, with a good red and green salsa available (I preferred the brighter verde). Enchiladas rojas were done well, with rather tossed-off sides of rice and refried beans. I'd put the tacos a few notches above Tacos A Go Go, a single notch above Chilosos (though I love Chilosos thick tortillas for breakfast) and on par with Unos Pinches. Tierra Caliente is probably still juuuuuuust a little better. That I can easily walk or bike to Fondita means I'll probably eat here more often than any of the others.
  8. Fantastic dinner last night at Coltivare in The Heights neighborhood. The Heights is a historic neighborhood North of downtown that has been described as a "small town in the city," and "Houston's 1st suburb," having been founded in the late 1800s. When one wanders around amidst the Craftsmen bungalows and Victorian homes up there, it is certainly easy to forget you're in the belly of the sprawling beast that is Houston. Coltivare opened about 2 and a half years ago to pretty universal acclaim, and is still listed in the Top 10 restaurants in Houston by the Chronicle. Last night around 7:30 the place was packed, and we were quoted an hour to hour and a half wait time. They take your number and text when your table is ready. There is an outdoor area for waiting with waiter service for cocktails, wine, and beer, but being new to the area, we strolled down White Oak to browse a record store, and grab a beer at the nearby Onion Creek. Just under an hour later, our table was ready. My impression of Cotivare from reading around was of a pizzeria that used seasonal ingredients and fresh vegetables from their onsite garden (kind of like Roberta's in Brooklyn). Our experience last night proves it is much more. The menu is broken into several sections (Snacks, Salumi, Salads, Small Plates, Pizza, Pasta, and Entrees). With the number of options in the snack/small plate section, you could definitely put together a great meal without even looking at pizzas or mains. We started with 2 snacks and a selection from the salumi section. Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto was exactly that. A bowl of raw sliced heirloom carrot sticks from the garden with a dish of spicy pesto for dipping. Simple and delicious. Arancini were fist-sized, perfectly fried, and oozing with cheese. These were served with a fresh pea salsa verde that cut through the richness well with a brightness and slight earthiness from the peas. Bruschetta came with a schmear of Nduja, topped with greens from the garden (arugula I think), and drizzled with local honey. These were absolutely delicious, and something I would order over and over. Next was a golden beet agnolotti with an assortment of vegetables all cooked to a perfect crisp tender. The fresh pasta was delicious, and while fresh, retained just a bit of chewiness that complimented the vegetables. As my wife said "If all vegetables could be so lucky to be cooked so well." The pizza completely blew me away. Brussels sprouts, butternut squash puree (in lieu of a tomato sauce), pancetta, pickled shallots, red chiles, and delicious, face-melting Taleggio cheese. The crust on the pizza was unlike any crust I am used to. It was crispy throughout, but soft. Very little chew. The cornicione almost looked like brioche as opposed to the blistered, leopard spots of a Neapolitan pie. I don't know if my description is doing it justice, but it was amazing. Maybe it's a sign of the bounty of great Neapolitan pizza in NY and DC, but I am glad they are putting out something different at Coltivare that can really stand out. We had a great 2011 Scarzello Barbera D'Alba with all of the above. There was a great looking cocktail menu (all at $11) that we didn't explore this time. Although we were stuffed, we soldiered on and finished with an Olive Oil Cake with bourbon, Luxardo gastrique, and grapefruit. This was a delicious riff on the Old Fashioned cocktail that came together as advertised. We will be back, and I would urge folks visiting Houston to check it out next time you're there.
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