We were looking for some lunch at the Galleria. This was a pretty random selection, “Let’s have Mexican, oh look there’s a restaurant”. I’m not sure what’s up with the bad reviews because I enjoyed my meal. I had a chicken chimichanga covered with a vegetable gravy, beans and rice. The chimichanga was good. I found the beans were a bit on the bland side and I suspect the rice was from a package. Ok, well I can see how this would get a mediocre review. It is what it is, a sit down restaurant in a food court.
My first meal in Texas; we decided on Cajun. I’ve never had real Cajun food before. Admittedly, this is a chain, but that’s ok. I’m not a discriminating foodie. I’ve always wondered what crawfish tasted like. They taste less of shrimp and slightly like lobster. There’s a lot of shell so great if you like fiddling with your food. The broth they were cooked in had kick. I also had a small bowl of shrimp and crab gumbo. I must be a wimp because the spice really kicked. I dumped a few packages of saltines just so I could eat it. No wonder, they have a large pot prominently on display where they must stew this stuff all day. The flavors were bold and concentrated.
I love Houston restaurants. This would be the first of a few restaurants where counter service and serve yourself condiments are the norm. All the tableware is disposable too.
On our way out to Hill Country, we stopped in Austin for lunch. This was a less random pick than some of our other choices, as we had the use of Yelp and Urbanspoon. Komé Sushi Kitchen is nestled on a street with a bunch of older shops. Most of the street has a gritty feel, complete with the graffiti on the buildings. It’s not much to look at from the outside but inside it’s a nice Japanese style bistro. Their awards line the entryway. The hostesses are friendly, greeting customers in Japanese as they walk in the door. Finally, a place that uses real chopsticks, not the splintering wooden kind.
The scallop sushi with mango and avocado was just the perfect bite. Good way to freshen the appetite.
The mackerel came with a small dish of Japanese pickle, miso soup and rice in addition to what was on the plate. A very tasty and affordable lunch for $8.50. The fish was tender and perfectly cooked. Reminds me of the fried mackerel my Mom used to make when I was little. The service was friendly and they handled their lunch rush well. After heavy Texas BBQ, Mexican and Cajun; this is a refreshing treat.
I found this little gem while shopping at Lucky Supermarket next door. I’m really used to visiting Chinese bakeries with all the predictable Chinese favorites. I suspect, this bakery caters to Vietnamese and Filipinos. They had an assortment of western bread, cookies, pastries and cake. But they also had various sweet rice desserts, and cassava cake. My friend was so happy to find a rice cake that she hadn’t eaten since childhood. They also had the Vietnamese equivalent of lo bok go, steamed daikon cake.
I’m on a mission to try all the southeast Asian restaurants in town. Well, mostly the Malaysian and Indonesian ones. Indonesian Kitchen is a small family run restaurant located on the ethically diverse International Avenue. Not much to look at from the outside, but the interior is warmly decorated. There are also shelves of crafts from Indonesia and a small selection of dry groceries. If I were more familiar with Indonesian cooking, I would have picked up some.
We started with the fried cassava. So good. Think of it as a spicy french fry. The chicken curry was up next. It was pretty average; I definitely expected more of a flavor hit. The mie goreng satisfied my craving for carbs after climbing. It was slightly sweet, which I was also craving. The shrimp chips and fried egg were a nice touch. Surprisingly, the tempeh was my favorite dish. Tempeh is a fermented soy product. I’ve cooked it before, and found the taste a little hard to swallow. But this version tasted good and combined with the sambal (chilli) sauce, was very tasty.
Worth a return visit, to try some of the other dishes.
Today’s foray to Indonesian Kitchen reminded me of the great taste of cassava. Cassava is a starchy vegetable that is used as food in a lot of Asian and African countries. It’s used a lot in subsistence farming. There is one ironic thing about this tuber. It is toxic to humans because it contains cyanide. There are two varieties, sweet and bitter. I assume they only sell the sweet variety in the grocery store. It requires proper processing techniques to be safe to eat. With sweet cassava, peel off all the skin (just the white flesh showing), cut off any dark streaks, grate and cook. Most of the poison is in the skin. The bitter variety, apparently has to be soaked for days in water or fermented underground. Then cooked really well. Processed, it is commonly known as tapioca. I usually dislike processed foods, but I appreciate it needs to be processed to be made safe for human consumption.
I’ve modified the recipe below, by substituting the evaporated milk with water, adding some unsweetened shredded coconut, a dash of vanilla extract, and a couple tablespoons of sugar. I’m pretty sure I used around four cups of cassava – I didn’t measure, it was two large tubers. It’s surprisingly tasty, with the rich taste of coconut and a nice caramelized flavour.
One area of town that I should explore more is International Avenue. There is a diverse range of food culture represented there, one of which is Portuguese. I’ve had Portuguese food once before; when I had a salt cod casserole. It was delicious.
Mimo is a family run place, for over 29 years. Mom is the chef and the daughters are servers and hostesses. We had a large party so we got to sample a few dishes. I found the flaming sausage quite entertaining. It was homemade; tasted smoky and spicy at the same time. I also had a nibble of the grilled squid which was tasty. My main dish was the paella and what a paella it was. Lobster, crab, shrimp, mussel and clam served in the shell. Also a braised chicken leg, squid and pieces of beef served on top of flavorful, buttery rice. I had enough to take home.
Our server was one of the daughters and she gave us a history of how the restaurant came to be along with memories of a thriving Portuguese community in what is now Little Saigon Mall. She was astute enough to notice that one of her guests left the chicken leg uneaten on her plate. It was uncooked in the middle. Another one of our guests had undercooked chicken as well. She offered to cover everyone’s dessert which I thought was really nice.
The dessert was good. I preferred the passion fruit pudding over the orange creme caramel. Only because the pudding was less sweet. Life would be complete if only I could find some Portuguese egg tarts. According to our server, best head to Edmonton.