Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Monsoon Wok and Lounge

1200 Mckinney St # 103

Monsoon isn't that good of a restaurant. It's owned by a group out of Wisconsin called Mo's Restaurants. The bar is a pretty cool place to hang out after work and grab a drink. The decor is modern asian. A bit like a scaled down streamlined version of PF Chang. We sat at the busy bar area rather than the quiet dining area.

They have a small happy hour with hot wings. These things are hottttt and pretty tasty. We also tried the $6 fried wontons that came thin and with dipping sauce. If we ignored that they call these things wontons, they were quite enjoyable. We also tried the Szechuan chicken. Not so tasty and not so Szechuan in flavor. Very much lacking in taste. Their menu isn't extensive, and the lack of tastiness in the food we did have showed us why. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind hanging out at the bar after work with some friends.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

17* Restaurant

Inside the Alden Hotel (Formerly Sam Houston Hotel)

East of Main Street's action is the uber-sexy Alden Hotel with its neon lit walls and swanky bar. 17* has been around since the Sam Houston opened and had a well-known chef who departed over a year ago. In his place is the former chef at the Four Seasons.

The decor is red, brown, glass and sexy. This is a high end restaurant with Guy Degrenne silverware, thoughtful service, and a well-thought-out menu. I tried the chicken on a bend of polenta. Simple meal, but extremely well-executed. It reminded my of the Flat iron chicken I had in Guy Savoy's restaurant on Paris' Left Bank. The skin was nicely browned and the chicken juicy and flavorful.

Rekha had the salad with chopped apples and endive. Tasty, if a bit tart for my tongue. She also had the duck ravioli. The duck itself tasted very good. The ravioli shell was a bit thick and overdone.

For dessert, I had the chocolate cake that came out a bit too cold. Not interesting, but good. Rekha had the the donut and malted chocolate shake. Interesting, but not good (well, except maybe the donut).

They have a good looking Sunday brunch menu. We'll be back for that brunch and maybe even the tasting menu.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

KL Malaysian Restaurant

7818 Bellaire Blvd

There aren't many Malaysian restaurants in Houston. The only other one I know of is Cafe Malay. Rekha used to think that the restaurant location was just a front for illegal drug activity because the Taiwanese restaurant that previously occupied the space had so few customers. Now we know better. This is a place where Malaysians come to eat Malaysian food.

The decor is cheap. The service is sometimes slow, but friendly. The location is odd. But in the end, this restaurants serves up Malaysian food in Houston--something I've never experienced before.

We had the bak kut teh soup. It's a concoction of pork, mushrooms, and bean curd in a dense brown beef-like broth. The flavor is pretty unique. I can see that it could get addictive. We also tried the chili fish on banana leaf. They take flounder, smother it with a thick shrimp and chili past (not too hot) and cook it on a bed of banana leaf. It was good, but not great.

I don't know a thing about Malaysian food. I don't know if this restaurant is good or bad, but I do know that I want to come back and try more things on the menu.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Max's Wine Dive!

4720 Washington Ave

I'm going to do something rather stunning. I'm going to recommend a restaurant that doesn't even serve iced tea!!! In fact, you can't even order a Coke or Sprite here (they do offer a fancy root beer). Max's wine dive feels like an urban biker joint with its neon sign, concrete floors and dim interior, but it is a wine bar.

I could talk about their interesting wine list (think bold flavors), but the punch line is that you should probably order an entire bottle since wines by the glass are rather expensive compared to just buying the bottle.

Owned by the folks who brought you The Tasting Room, this place has a distinctly urban renewal vibe to it. We sat at the bar that runs the length of the restaurant. Behind the bar is the big burly chef who whips out dishes like Kobe Beef Burgers (how trite), chili, and haute dogs.

I had the fried chicken on a bed of collard greens. IT WAS THE BEST DAMN FRIED CHICKEN I'VE EVER HAD. They soak the sucker in buttermilk(?) and then fry it to perfection. Juicy, flavorful and perfect for sharing. The plate came with 4 pieces of chicken. Rekha had the venison chili. Quite good, though probably not the best we've had.

Max's is open till late. The place is packed on the weekends. This restaurant seriously made us reconsider moving away from the area. If you don't live near here, you might want to move so you can come eat here everyday.

Rekha and I ventured back with my sister and brother-in-law in tow. This time, no table came available so we spent the evening standing at a cocktail table. We opened the evening with a bottle of white and an order of fries smothered with venison chili, guyere cheese, black truffles, and two eggs over easy. Absolutely decadent and tasty.

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