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May 14, 2013 09:19 AM

Mysterious Indian Market, Mi Pueblito and Jamaica House, (and Biryani Pot to boot!)

Not too many new messages on here the last week or so. I thought I'd take this slack opportunity to catch up on some miscellany.

A couple of months ago I hit the new Trader Joe's at Voss and San Felipe very early on a Saturday morning. (I'm really getting fond of that place, BTW.)

Afterwards, I drove up Voss/Hilcroft looking for an Indian market as I was looking for a few specialty items like chickpea flour, (besan), fresh curry leaves and asafoetida.

I intended to go to Patel Brothers, but they weren't open yet, so on my way back up Hillcroft, I stopped by a rather industrial looking market between Richmond and the Westpark Tollway. I'm not going to name it because I don't know what their "real" business is, but I don't think it's groceries. I was the only customer, (but it was pretty early - say 9 or 9:15). And I was able to get my besan and fresh curry leaves, so they do make the pretense, BUT while scanning the spice shelves for the asafoetida, I saw numerous bottles and bags of spices that were not only out of date, but were out of date by more than decade! (Seriously.) Now I'm no expert Indian chef, but I do know that fresh spices are essential, and these were common things like cumin and coriander.

I don't think I'll go to that place again. (I'm rather fond of BOTH of my kidneys.)

Moving on, I was driving around one day trying to decide what to have for lunch and I remembered seeing a Columbian place on Richmond near Tanglewilde, so I ran by there.

Mi Pueblito, ( ) is a typical strip center hole in the wall with great food, great service and a very welcoming atmosphere. I had the Carne Mechada from the House Specialties portion of the menu. It came with lots of starches, (fried plantain, rice, corn cake), but it was delicious. I couldn't eat it all.

After the meal, I asked the waiter about the green salsa, (aji), and when I told him how much I enjoyed it, he went and made a me a small cup of it to go. (He's on my Christmas card list now!) If you're feeling just a wee bit adventurous, try it out. I'll be back soon.

Another day, (no, it wasn't the SAME day!), I stopped by Jamaica House on Westheimer at Winrock, ( ). It's just a couple of doors down from Miyako. Again, very nice people and it smells so unbelievably good inside! I had the lunch special Jammin' Jerk Chicken. The waiter warned me it was very spicy, but it wasn't "too" spicy; just spicy enough. I'll be back for some goat before too long.

Speaking of goat, I've also been back to the Biryani Pot a couple of times, and I'm lovin' it more every time. The last time I stopped in, the biryani was so spicy that I noticed my lips were still burning an hour later. Be warned, but don't hesitate. Go there!

I haven't been to Oxheart. I haven't been to Underbelly. I haven't been to whatever the latest and trendiest spot on Washington or Midtown or wherever the "new" place that the beautiful people flock to is, but you needn't worry about me one bit.

I'm eatin' pretty good.

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  1. I wonder if that Aji sauce is the same as served with Peruvian style chicken? I discovered that sauce at Pollo Bravo and went looking for a recipe. Whatever that aji paste is, it has a really distinct flavor and after taste.

    1. I love my Caribbean food! I'll have to check out Jamaica House

      3 Replies
        1. re: DoobieWah

          It's actually closed permanently now. Caribbean Cuisine Restaurant on Bissonnet is the best I've been to anyway. Flavorful platefuls of great caribbean food.

          1. re: scw

            Yeah, that's why "remodeling" is in "quotations".

      1. Great stuff. Try Raj Grocers on Hwy 3 in Clear Lake for a great selection of Indian goods - there are others in an adjacent strip center but steer clear - Raj is clean and comprehensive. And, you really should try Oxheart.

        1 Reply
        1. re: specktaker

          Thanks for the recc, but I'll be honest - I haven't been to Clear Lake in 15 years or so, since my buddy left NASA.

          My next trip is to the World Food Warehouse at Beechnut and Highway 6. It's about 20 minutes from me.

          Here's a link, but there's not much on the site:

          And I office just off Voss north of San Felipe, so the Hillcroft District is very convenient.

          Between Phoenicia and Fiesta, I have ready sources for most Subcontinent ingredients, but fresh curry leaves and asafoetida remain elusive. However since the trip noted above, I've been seeing the besan everywhere.