Tuesday, June 16, 2015

food for thought: May 2015

No better time than halfway through June to post my May dining highlights! I know this is long overdue, so I'll get right to it.

Spicy chicken (left) and preserved pork  (right) from Hunan Bistro

The best thing I ate: My favorite meal this month came from Hunan Bistro in Chinatown. I went there based off of a recommendation from a trusted Twitter source, and it did not disappoint. A wide ranging menu, this is a great place to go with a group and order a wide array of dishes to share. For my first visit I went with a preserved pork dish, which was wonderfully funky, and a crispy chicken dish that had a nice spice which built as you ate it. This place does not seem to be on a lot of people's radars yet, but that may just be a matter of time.

Crawfish curry (left) and Thai donuts with condensed milk dipping sauce (right) from Star of Bangkok

A break in the chain: One of the issues I've found living on the outskirts of Houston for most of my life is that authentic ethnic restaurants and family owned places have a difficult time surviving in suburbia; they're not exactly thriving in many parts of Houston either, but that's a different discussion. A lot of families in the smaller cities seem to prefer the large chain restaurants that are familiar to them. No better example of this was the line out the door at Lupe's in Katy every Saturday night, while I could drive four miles down the street to Marini's Empanadas for better food at a much cheaper price with no wait time.

Nine months into my life in the Humble/Kingwood/Atascocita area, I've been fortunate to find a few family owned establishments that offer a bit more of an authentic experience. My most recent discovery is Star of Bangkok, housed in the old Baytown Seafood building on FM 1960 just west of Timber Forest Drive. While it is not Asia Market, Star of Bangkok offers well-executed Thai curries, has some unique offerings such as the seasonal crawfish curry, and is priced right. A new addiction for my sweet tooth are their Thai donuts (pa thong ko) - small fried pieces of dough served with a sweetened condensed milk dipping sauce. An order of about fifteen of them is a mere $3.25. It's an addictive little treat.

Oh, hello again old friend: I am still in search of a reliable breakfast place in my new area, but was able to revisit Pecan Creek Grille, an old favorite from my west side days. Pecan Creek provides all of the reliable breakfast staples such as pancakes, waffles and omelets, but also offers items such as pulled pork hash and delicious jalapeno cheese grits. This place was a once a month staple for my wife and I; we miss it dearly on lazy Sunday mornings. If you live near Eldridge and Briar Forest I highly suggest you take advantage of having a good breakfast option in close proximity.

A little bit of everything from Corkscrew BBQ

No post is complete, without a recap of meat: Of course there was barbecue this month, locally and statewide. Scott and Bryan have the road trip recaps handled for our two day odyssey of barbecue. Some personal highlights of our most recent tour were lamb ribs at Gonzales Food Market and the many offerings of all beef sausage we were able to try. I wish more places in Houston would use less pork in their sausages. In town there were trips to Roegels, one of my go-to work lunch spots, and a Saturday morning at Corkscrew with the usual superb spread.

Full disclosure: This month had 38 stops which ranged from Persian to Thai to barbecue to Vietnamese, among others.

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