Showing posts with label chinatown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chinatown. Show all posts

12.27.2008

que huong

que huong
8200 wilcrest dr # 27 @ beechnut

our lunch from Que Huong

the chowhounds and i had an impromptu lunch @ que huong yesterday, where robb walsh claims may be the best authentic vietnamese in the country. several attempts have been made to organize meals here but have fallen apart for one reason or another. my tum was crying for a light meal and i knew QH would hit the spot.

to start, 2 cold salads:

#300 jellyfish salad topped w/shrimp and pork from Que Huong

where's the jellyfish? i asked 2 or 3 times. i finally saw it hidden in the nether regions of the salad. once detected not much was found either. the salad was still wonderful w/sliced pork, shrimp, julienned celery, onion, carrots, cucumbers, crunchy fried shallots, and cilantro.

#306 sliced rare beef & shrimp water spinach salad from Que Huong

the beef (probably tai used for pho) was tender and pink, shrimp seemed fresh enough but the real standout was the bed of fresh water spinach (rau muống, ong choy, or in chinese, kongxincai "hollow heart vegetable") and the tasty dressing which was vinegar based, not overly sweet, and well-balanced.

both salads were light, fresh, and tasty. both were accompanied by shrimp chips - although slightly reminiscent of packaging peanuts -which were crunchy and fun to eat. they shared the same pleasant vinaigrette. i could eat either of these salads every day and have mentally added them to my list of healthy yummy food that i need to direct more attention to in following through with some new years resolutions.

next up, an appetizer:

#14 fried sticky rice combination from Que Huong

the fried sticky rice combination came with chinese sausage, vietnamese ham (chả lụa), tiny dried shrimp, and crushed peanuts. the dish was simple yet comforting and delicious. the fried puck of rice didn't appear to be deep fried as it did not have consistent browning. my guess is it is panfried, however i'm not sure how they do it. sticky rice is, well, sticky. i'm assuming copious amounts of oil must be involved yet the dish seemed grease-free. (if anyone can enlighten me on the preparation of this dish, please leave a comment.)

continuing on... i was disappointed they didn't have bánh bột chiên (fried rice flour cake) or bánh cuốn, steamed rice noodle rolls similar to chinese cheong fun served during dim sum. but bánh ướt is similar.

#99 banh uot w/ham, pickled pork sausage, fried shrimp cupcake from Que Huong

bánh ướt or steamed rice sheets are almost translucent white and have a bit of a gelatinous texture. while i quite enjoy it, i've known others to be turned off by the soft, chewy texture. by themselves they don't have much flavor and here QH cuts them into strips and pairs a small mound of cold bánh ướt with vietnamese ham or chả lụa (steamed pork loaf), pickled sour pork sausage or nem, and a fried shrimp cup cake. garnished with cilantro, julienned cukes, bean sprouts, and fried shallots, this dish is eaten after a generous amount of fish sauce or Nước chấm is added.

i loved the different textures of this dish: the soft, slimy noodles, the fresh crunch of the veggies and herbs, the pork prepared 2 ways, and the deep fried shrimp cake. even the juxtaposition of the 2 meats was interesting: nem- pickled, mushy, rawish-looking sausage (not sour to me at all) could turn others off, but i think it is quite tasty. and chả lụa- boiled/steamed silky smooth and mild pork bologna.

#274 soft shell crab tempura w/butter sauce from Que Huong

fried soft shell crab in "french" butter sauce. the crab looked quartered, then battered and fried. it was then tossed with butter sauce which i couldn't detect enough of and served on a bed of watercress. who can hate fried soft shells? i didn't with this version, although i have had much better at mai's. misha seems to think sinh sinh has the best in town and i look forward to confirming that.

#224 bo luc lac from Que Huong

lastly, i ordered bo luc lac or "shaken beef" which is a good benchmark dish with which to critique all vietnamese restaurants. misha remarked that i went safe and boring, the others at the table thought we probably already had enough food w/o this last dish, but our server promised me it was good. well... he was wrong. the beef cubes were overcooked and chewy. the flavors of the dish, even though i liked the addition of snow peas, were unremarkable.

i should have ordered something more adventurous like:
  • #287 aromatic snail sauteed w/basil leaves
  • #288 quail simmered in honey soy sauce
  • #289, 291, 294 eel, frog legs, or alligator w/hot pepper & lemongrass
  • #290, 292, 295 eel, frog legs, or alligator in curry sauce
  • #296 grilled alligator on hot plate
  • #321 goat meat, taro, and carrots in curry sauce w/ french bread or vermicelli
is this the best authentic vietnamese in houston? yes, so far, as far as i can tell.

9.01.2008

beijing olympics closing ceremonies - part 2

continued from part 1

peking cuisine
8332 southwest fwy @ gessner

the second meal of the day to commemorate the end of the beijing summer olympics last weekend was appropriately centered around peking duck. peking cuisine is well known for serving the best peking duck in town. i remember having the peking duck there on thanksgiving with my family many many years ago, but couldn't really remember thinking it was as good as people say it is. i was anxious to get back there and investigate with the houston chowhounds.

dinner this evening was for 12 and we secured the private room for the event and also ordered our ducks one day in advance. my chinese mother was in tow for dinner so we could order off the chinese language menu.


chinese language menu. we ordered 2 ducks and the family dinner for 6 which included your choice of 6 cold appetizers, 6 hot dishes, and 1 starch.

this is what our table looked like once all the dishes were brought out. (the duck soup came much later)

la pi in garlic sauce. it had a strange sour taste, i was not fond of it.

honey smoked fish. the consensus at the table was that the dish was not that great. it was overly fishy, dry, and had only a slightly sweet taste.

fried stuffed bun. i didn't try it.

preserved egg with tofu. i only like preserved eggs (aka thousand year old eggs) in congee. it is definitely an acquired taste. i noticed that most of this dish went untouched on the table.

soy sauce pork feet. truthfully, i don't remember trying this. if i did, it was not memorable. perhaps some attendees can comment about this dish.

jellyfish with garlic. excellent. i could have eaten the whole plate myself.

spicy beef tendon. i love tendon and this was no exception. i would have prefered cilantro on top instead of scallions to complement the heat.

fish with hot red pepper. i expected the fish to be crispy which it wasn't. perhaps, i waited too long to dig into the dish. it also looks a lot spicier than it was. next time i'd rather order the sichuan fish.

eggplant with garlic sauce. i love japanese eggplant and this dish didn't disappoint.

fantail shrimp (not on english menu). nothing exciting. the dish tasted exactly the way it looked. i would have liked to eat more of the veggies in the dish, but i was sharing with 11 other people.

stirfried green beans. very good.

sichuan beef. good ma la from the dish, however not nearly as tasty as sichuan cuisine.

ma po tofu. again, passable but not as good as sichuan cuisine.

the star of the show peking duck. the duck skin was arranged on top of the plate of duck meat carved off the whole duck. scallions and plum sauce were served on the side. pancakes were served in plastic tortilla holders (pancakes are in the above photo of the whole table). the duck had cooled down too much by the time it was served and i expected the skin to be crispier. however, the pancakes were warm and delicious. definitely the best i've had. soup made from the duck carcasses, napa cabbage, and tofu was also served at the end of the meal.

it's hard to believe that this is the best peking duck houston has to offer. does any place in houston actually carve peking duck at the table?

the meal was fun and enjoyable of course b/c the chowhounds were there. it was also a great value as the meal came out to $13 per person. for sichuan food, i'd definitely head to sichuan cuisine, but i guess for my peking duck fix - this is as good as it gets?

special thanks to reed, my mom, for many of the photos posted here. the good ones are hers ;-)

8.25.2008

beijing olympics closing ceremonies - part 1

fung's kitchen
7320 southwest fwy # 115 nr. bellaire


to commemorate the end of the beijing summer olympics, the houston chowhounds and i hit the streets of chinatown twice on sunday. the events were even scheduled so we could take a nap in between AND be home to watch the broadcast of the real closing ceremonies in beijing. first, dim sum at fung's kitchen. it was already packed by 11 am.

we started with pretty standard dim sum fare...

siu mai (listed as "fung's steamed shrimp & pork dumpling"

har gau (list as "steamed shrimp dumpling")

chinese "broccoli w/ oyster sauce"

"steamed beef ball"- was okay

"steam bbq pork bun"

congee (listed as "rice soup/pork egg")

"deep fried taro puff" - really good, but greasy

inside the deep fried taro puff is ground pork

shrimp cheong fun (listed as "steam shrimp rice noodle") - i love the sweet soy sauce this is served in

"steam pork spare ribs w/ black bean sauce"- my favorite dim sum dish

"steam shrimp balls with sticky rice"

"sticky rice w/ meat wrap lotus leaf"

view of inside the lotus leaf (chicken, chinese sausage, black mushroom, ground pork) - yum

"chicken feet with black bean sauce"

then the interesting stuff came by. we passed on pig ears but we did order...

chicken feet with sweet & spicy sauce (cold)- firm and gelatinous, not my favorite preparation

bean curd skin with cilantro (cold) - love it!

conch & cucumber salad - delish

duck chins - big tease. the little bit of meat on there was so difficult to get at.

this is what our table looked like and...

this is what our bill looked like so far...

but we still had to check out the hot food stall where we ordered...

duck feet with black mushrooms

spicy fried chicken wings

pig's feet in ginger vinegar sauce

then the dessert cart came by... (or one of them anyway)

these little "pears" were filled with lotus seed paste

"french egg pudding"

these birdies were filled with yellow bean paste

mango pudding

next up, part 2 is peking duck dinner at peking cuisine...

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