Well, last week was an unusual one in that my usual lunch buddy was out of town, so I had the opportunity to hit some places he would rather not visit. (He's a good guy and we've been working together for about thirty years, but he likes what he likes and a good bit of what " I " like isn't on his list.)
Anyway, I was going to visit Dumpling King at Westheimer and Hillcroft. I had been one other time recently, (after a ten year hiatus), and found the dumplings to be remarkably good. (More on that in a moment.)
But as I was pulling into the woefully small parking lot I pulled up next to a couple of guys who were leaving a pretty new place in the same strip center called The Biryani Pot. Indian food is definitely NOT on my buddy's list so I asked the (obviously South Asian) guys how it was, and they assured me it was "Great".
OK, so you know the next part.
The place had maybe 45 seats or so and at 1:45 was about half full. Everyone else in the place was South Asian. I took that as a very good sign, and indeed my instincts in this regard were spot on.
The specialty here is Hyderabad cuisine, (the home of biryani). I have a take out menu in front of me and I see categories for Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian appetizers, Tandoor, and entrees featuring Vegetarian, Chicken, Goat and Seafood.
Then another section for "Signature Biryani and Rice Dishes".
I wanted to try as much as possible so I opted for the Non-Vegetarian Lunch Special. (Yeah, that's how I roll!)
It's pri fixe so you don't make selections, (other than veg or non-veg), and they bring you the day's dishes.
Holy moley! The plate is served on a school cafeteria type tray with ball of these little compartments. The main dish was a large bowl of very spicy chicken biryani. It was utterly delicious. Also on my tray was an appetizer of chicken tandoori which was very moist and tender. A chicken curry and a dahl curry, a papadam and a naan, a salad with raita, and finally a mango pudding for dessert.
And what did I pay for this feast?
Will I do it again?
My one quibble? Iced tea. They don't have it.
They DO have Nestea, (or something) in a can and it was alright, but this is Houston and every restaurant should be willing to brew iced tea fresh daily. It's ridiculously cheap and carries a gigantic markup.
(And I love my iced tea!)
Anyway, back to Dumpling King.
As noted above, I used to eat there occasionally a long time ago, but hadn't been back in ten or more years. It's not a fancy place, but the people working there are very nice and welcoming.
So I've been twice in the last month or so, (including last week), and both times I ordered a cup of egg drop soup and an order of six combination dumplings. The first time I ordered steamed and the last time pan-fried. (Yeah, that's how I roll!)
The six dumplings are all different and included: vegetable, pork, chicken, beef, pork and shrimp and... not sure.
But there were six.
The green pepper sauce and the pickled ginger make great accompaniments, but both times I requested the hot chili oil, cause I love that stuff.
Awesome dumplings y'all. Go there.
Parking at this little strip center is ridiculous at lunch hour but a little early or a little late and it's usually not a problem.
And there's a nice cigar store in betwixt 'em, so if that's your thing...
I've been seeing a lot of positive comments on Biryani Pot, including Alison Cook I think. It seems to be a new foodie hot spot, along with Maharaja Bhog.
Places that serve that canned tea should be required by law to list it on the menu as such. I can't stand the stuff and usually it's the pre-sweetened variety, with lemon. I can't stand sweetened tea, either.
I usually prefer chilled (no ice in the glass) water with Indian food but once on one of these boards admitted to sometimes asking for iced tea, especially in the summer. One of the West Coast food police that patrols the General Topics board pooh-poohed me for being so culturally crass.
So I popped into Biryani Pot for lunch today for the first time in several months.
They've expanded into a neighboring suite and totally renovated the place. It now has a row of booths next to the windows, and new furniture and decor. It looks very much nicer and the food is just as good.
The lunch tray with chicken is still $10 and worth a good deal more in my opinion.
(But don't tell them I said that. It'll be our secret!)