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Mar 12, 2014 08:28 PM

Dallas Hound needs some recs

I will be in town this coming weekend. First I will drive anywhere if it is really good. I am not staying anywhere specific (well close to the Galleria if you must know) and no one has any allergies or dietary restrictions. I have been travelling to Houston since the early 90’s so I know my way around pretty well.

Authentic Chinese
Been to Mala and Little Sichuan in Plano (the latter was the Mala owner's dad). Those are ok but looking for something different. Dallas already has a Little Sheep and I think the one in Houston is much better! What I am looking for is a place with great noodle dishes (hand thrown (Lamian) or knife cut (Dao Xiao Mian)) or dumplings or anything else that sticks out. I don't need soup dumplings.....just dumplings. If there are any other dishes that you would recommend I would love to hear them. Is there a great steamed fish dish at one place, fried shrimp at another, etc etc?

I am very well versed in Indian and Pakistani. Is the Indian Pastrami at Himalaya something I should go for? Just FYI I have been told by countless Pakistani's that Bundu Khan on Bissonnet and Kirkwood is the best for Pakistani grilled items, probably in the state. Last time I was in Houston I tried to go to Bundu Khan but it doesn't open until 2 pm on Saturday. Besides Indika and Pondicheri are there any places you crave? Shri Balaji Bhavan....what are the popular dishes there? I know it serves dosas, thali, chaat, etc. What is the one craveable dish?

I still have yet to find that one stellar Vietnamese restaurant in Houston. I really like the banh mi at Don Cafe on Bellaire, but I guess I missed something at several other restaurants. I thought the pho was ok at Pho Binh trailer. Had the Soft Shell Crab in Butter at Que Huong it was just ok too. Am I missing something? Is there better pho shops? Places with great bun (rice noodles) or buon cuon (rice paper crepes). Looking for dives and non-fancy places....where the everyday Vietnamese eats.

Houston has much better Persian food than Dallas will ever dream of and the same with Lebanese. Are there any great places besides Phoenicia (My favorite store in the state and one of the best shwarma too) or Café Caspian. How is Bijan on 59 & Hillcroft? Are there any others close to 59 & Hillcroft. I remember reading about some in the near distant past.

Any other small affordable places you would recommend? Taco trucks/trompos/taquerias?

If you had to splurge for one meal where would it be? Coltivare? Andes Café? Caracol? Nara?

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  1. On the Indo/Pak front Bundu Khan is indeed very good - you just have to live with the crazy hours. If you want things like Nihari or Haleem, you should try Sabri Nihari which is just off Hwy 59 on Hillcroft - also love their ultrafresh cooked nan.

    5 Replies
    1. re: kagemusha49

      With a name like Sabri Nihari does it compare to the restaurant with the same name on Devon Ave in Chicago, where they have almost perfected Nihari?

      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        I think they may have a connection - not sure. The Houston Nihari is very good.

        1. re: kagemusha49

          If you are ever in Dallas head to Carrollton. There five Pakistani within 2 blocks of each other:

          Al Markaz is the most popular, cheapest and I believe is the greasiest. Great chicken khat-a-khat, Frontier chicken (bone in) and Karahi chicken are my favorites and the naan is fresh baked and of the thick variety. Ask them to keep it in the tandoor a few second longer to make a crisp bottom and add butter! They also have a fresh paan vendor at the door!

          Eat St Kabab Factory is my go to for lunch. Great beef seekh (should be called Gola kabab), chicken boti, haleem and chicken tikka masala. I have been wanting to check out the Charga, which the owner says is different from the fried version. The naan is also fresh baked and of the thick variety.

          BBQ Tonight is the best for weekend buffet and Ramandan buffet besides those time I don't go.

          Al Haaj Bundoo Khan is in the same space as BBQ tonight. It is a grill only and parata. Heard good and bad about ti and haven't yet been. I have been told not as good as the Houston Bundu Khan

          Lal-Quila, I guess you could say this is the nicest setting of any of the Paki restaurants in Dallas. They do have Sabri Nihari on the menu that is pretty good from what I have had. Haleem and Kahari chicken are both very solid. They have the thick variety naan and it happens to be the cheapest in town.

          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            The Dallas Asian food scene has improved enormously from the first time I moved there in 1980.

            1. re: kagemusha49

              Indeed it has! If you ever need to know any Asian food recs while you visit Dallas just let me know. That is typically what I dine on frequently (at least twice a week).

    2. I have had the pastrami at Himalaya and it was not impressive to me, but then again, I'm not well versed in Indian food and don't particularly like cured meats. It does shine on its sauces though. I recommend the steak tikka or anything hara masala - adore that spicy green sauce.

      Have you tried the Thai menu at Vieng Thai on Long Point? Widely considered the best in town.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lambowner

        Yes been to Vieng Thai a few years back...had the Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad) and Pad Ped Sator (Stir fried Stinky (Sator) beans with pork).

        I have been to Himalaya several times but don't think I have ever ordered the hara masala...good rec there. In the Indian/Pakistani cuisine sometimes it comes down to a sauce...a sauce you can coat almost anything in and it is delicious.

      2. I absolutely love, love, love, Indian/Pakastani food. Unfortunately, I've given up on the Hillcroft/59 restaurant locations long ago as I find most on the dingy and dirty side with owners/waitstaff unfriendly and food, lacking "sizzle". Himalaya is a prime example.. greasy food served up by an owner that would seem to care less about customer service, in a less than appealing environment to eat. I prefer Indika or Pondicheri over the Curry section of Houston. U might also consider The Great W'kana in Stafford or Bombay Brasseria in Rice Village. Kiran's should also be on your hit list. Just my 2 cents..

        3 Replies
        1. re: bornie

          Just FYI Pakistani food is supposed to be super rich when dining out and predominately meat based. They don't want veggies and healthy, when they typically eat that at home. Eating out is a luxury and they believe it should be excessive, so the oil and excessive amounts of meat beased dishes do not fit into our dining mindset.

          I feel you on the dingy and paltry is the same everywhere. I am sure it is not much better in India/Pakistan either.

          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            Indika is definitely a different experience and worth trying. Kiran's was a huge disappointment. Both are much more expensive than Sabri Nihari - which, as I mentioned earlier, is low rent but clean. Indika and Sabri Nihari are my two faves.

            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

              Pull up and google pondcheri,, same owner! Lots of national press attention. I've taken cooking classes at indikausa and the kitchen is spotless, the food is fresh and flavorful. The vindaloo Berkshire ribs, the special on thurs night at pondi along with the chickpea curly fries is sensational. They do a "meatless Monday" if u r so inclined. Also, The Great w'kana is a trek from town but the food is vg..

          2. Was really hoping for some Vietnamese, Chinese and Persian recs.

            Has anyone been to Strights for the Malay/Singaporean menu?

            3 Replies
            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

              Not to often I leave my area and venture out to Chinatown. Mid-town offers Van Loc and Mai's for my Viet fix. Cafe Ginger and Fung's Kitchen for Chinese. Banana Leaf for Malaysian in Chinatown is VG!!

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                I like Huynh for Vietnamese, especially the pulled duck with ginger dipping sauce. Sorry, don't have any helpful recs for Chinese or Persian, though I have heard that Kasra is good. For Indian, has someone mentioned Maharaja Bhog already? I agree with the Indika/Pondicheri recs.

                1. re: mjust

                  I really like Kasra. Definitely worth trying if you like Persian. At least as good as Cafe Caspian, with a little more varied menu. Very nice service, as well.

              2. "Dives...where the everyday Vietnamese eats": several "everyday Vietnamese" that I've met have recommended Pho Dien. Very few white faces in there:

                It's in the same plaza as the popular Vietnamese radio station KREH:

                For more upscale, we like Mai's.

                And don't think any food fan should skip a visit to Hugo's. Sunday brunch would be best. Honestly, if you want to have any serious Houston food creds, sooner or later, you're going to have to go. If you haven't been already, you definitely should correct that omission as promptly as you are able.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Jaymes

                  Thanks for the tip about Pho Dien.

                  I have always browsed the menu at Hugo's and nothing really sticks out to me.

                  I am a fan of mole but it really isn't a dish that I seek out. I am a big fan of mole verde (green typically with pork) and mole amarillo (yellow), both of which are rarely found stateside.

                  What are the dishes that you feel the ingredients, price and quality all come together for you at Hugos?

                  Aside from the cred aspect (which I probably have none in Houston) what are some of the dishes that do stand out and what about them makes it better than say a small mom and pop taqueria find?

                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                    I have been to Hugo's several times and don't really get the hoopla, but I haven't been to Sunday brunch. I guess I prefer Tex-Mex over Mex-Mex in the end. The goat is really moist and tasty, wrapped in banana leaf as I recall? It is meat and veg oriented as opposed to cheese, which I love. To me, the price doesn't mesh up with the dish presented. And we had an odd experience once where they whisked away our drinks, half drunk, and brought back new ones without flotsam in them, so that's just my experience and colors my comments, as that sort of thing does.

                    1. re: Lambowner

                      So they wisked away your drink that had flotsam in it and gave you a new one without and that was a problem for you? Maybe I am misreading that line but would that not be a good thing service wise?

                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        They didn't say anything to me and I didn't ask for a new one, I thought the flotsam was intentional. Turns out they were apparently using dirty glasses. Could happen to anybody. I suppose.

                    2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                      You're just looking in the wrong Ortega place. From the menu at Caracol:

                      Cañita de Puerco con Mole Costeño Amarillo

                      But the starters there are generally even better...especially the pulpo.

                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        Regarding Hugo's and "what about them makes it better than say a small mom and pop taqueria find"...

                        For me, anyway, there simply isn't any comparison between Hugo's and a "small mom and pop taqueria find." They're just not doing the same things at all. The small taquerias are offering a much smaller and less-ambitious, less-sophisticated menu. Hugo's is offering upscale Mexico City-type cuisine. The things that I love most at Hugo's are not things I have ever seen at small (or even large) taquerias, not do I ever, ever expect to.

                        The first thing that comes to mind is Chiles en Nogada. Now, you have to understand, this is one of my very most favorite dishes of any sort, from any cuisine, anywhere in the world. I've never seen a proper version (or even a lame version, although I suppose that's possible) offered at a taqueria. Hugo's are as good as any I've had in Mexico, or anywhere else, for that matter. Ditto on the duck in mole. Also I love the rajas-stuffed tamales. And that corn pudding is ambrosial. The Huachinango a la Veracruzana is a dish I see around from time to time at larger, full-service Mexican restaurants (not so much at small mom & pop taquerias), but I particularly enjoy Hugo's version. The Callo de Hacha - pan-seared scallops over sweet corn bread with rajas con crema - is also terrific, and I don't recall seeing scallops at a small taqueria, ever. Nor do I expect to. Nor do I need to. Nor do I want to. Mom & pop taquerias specialize in a completely different type of food. For example, I have no idea how Hugo's cheese enchiladas are, or even if they offer them, because that's not what I go to Hugo's for. I think you've been to Fonda San Miguel in Austin. Hugo's is more like that.

                        You (and others) might not like Hugo's as much as I do, but comparing Hugo's to mom & pop taquerias would be like comparing a high-end steakhouse to Burger King, because they both sell beef.

                        Each has its place. But there's just no comparison.

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          Jaymes, we enjoy the same comida, especially chiles en nogada, beyond their traditional season. My favorite. And huachinango Veracruz.

                          1. re: Jaymes

                            I wan't wild about the grasshoppers at Hugo's - too crunchy for my taste. They had some very smoky tasting Oaxacan Mezcal though.

                            1. re: Jaymes

                              Have you tried the Huachinango al cilantro at Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe? Pretty darn good.

                              1. re: Lambowner

                                I have not. But must say that even the sound of it is extremely enticing. Just put it on my "next trip into town" list. Thanks!