Ice cream friendly

Aside from opening a little bit late on Sunday (11:30 am), the Tokyo One at Westchase is a lovely place. Three things that I have now associated with Tokyo One, although I probably shouldn’t, since they kinda belong to the ukiyo (floating world) more than to the permanents: 1. A beautiful peach-colored water lily in the mini pond creek artificial water thing surrounding the building 2. Perfect silky chawanmushi (pictured) 3. The gentle (the gentlest I’ve ever heard) but persistent recommendation of Sean, our server, for ice cream. We were full to the brim, but I gave in after he asked us for the second time if we would like some ice cream (as if I could ever turn down icecream 8)). I’m happy that he insisted, the plum ice cream with plum bits was great, and green tea ice cream is always good. We finished two scoops, Sean came back and asked if we’d like some more. Honest to goodness, I wanted to say yes. Address: Tokyo One at Westchase 2938 W Sam Houston Pkwy South Houston, TX 77042 (713) 785-8899 Buffet lunch for three: $51.93 Ah, food-wise? Good tempura, good gyoza, […]

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Sandwich Shop Goodies 20 – Xôi khúc – Jersey cudweed sticky rice

There’s a Vietnamese song that starts like this: “Ten years pass by without seeing each other, I thought love had grown old/ Like the clouds that have flown by so many years, I thought we had forgotten.”(*) It then went on to say, as you might expect, that the narrator still yearns for that love like ten years ago. An even more dramatic thing happens to me: I still crave xôi khúc with the same passion of the last time I had it, which was twenty years ago. The lady who sold xôi khúc (xôi cúc if you’re from the South)(*) near our elementary school was old. In her sixties at least. She was clean, so Little Mom bought xôi from her. We never had xôi khúc from anyone else, and I don’t remember seeing anyone else selling it. Loosely wrapped in banana leaves like all other xôi(*), her xôi khúc beamed with the smell of ground black pepper in the bean paste and the cool, herbal flavor of the steamy sticky rice. After the lady stopped showing up in the mornings with her basket, we stopped having xôi khúc for breakfast. Xôi khúc is too […]

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Mung bean porridge

Rice porridge was my enemy. In elementary years, I got a fever about once every month. Aside from feeling tired and having weird dreams when the fever got high, I didn’t really mind that, but my mom did. She was so worried she wouldn’t sleep for days, not until my temperature went back to normal. And she made sure that I ate my rice porridge. She made rice porridge with ground pork and rice porridge with fish, she added vegetable, she seasoned it perfectly, and I still hated every spoon of it. I hated the texture of rice porridge: mushy and textureless. I hated both thick porridge and watery porridge(*). Every porridge meal was a battle between Mom and me, and I always lost, which deepened my aversion to porridge even more. But there were happy days when I actually liked my fever porridge and didn’t need my mom to prod: it was mung bean porridge on those days. Actually, there’s rice in mung bean porridge, too, but the mung bean skin makes the porridge all nuttier and better. Then it’s a sweet porridge (just rice, mung bean and sugar, no meat), so that’s doubly better. […]

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Rosemary Garden Bistro – Làng nướng Vườn Hồng

Nothing in the Rosemary Garden compound quite fits the name “Bistro”, there’s a chapel, a few stores across the parking lot with signs too far for me to read, a bakery that only takes order for wedding cakes, birthday cakes and Christmas cakes, and a restaurant big enough to host a small wedding banquet. Little Mom saw its ad in the local Vietnamese newspapers, and grilled alligator sounds good enough to make a trip across town. My vegan intention was quickly thwarted, as expected in any Vietnamese or Korean restaurant, the few non-meat things available are all related to stir-fried bokchoy or eggplant. Little Mom eyed a few courses in the 9-course fish ($29.95), but you can’t get one without getting all nine, and she’s against fish spring roll while I’m against fish congee, so we flipped to the next page. Since Rosemary Garden is a làng nướng (grill village), it’s only appropriate that we meat-out and ignore the rice/noodles altogether (they don’t grill tofu). Besides, rice comes with alligator. Lots of rice, which took me by surprise for a split second. Guess I’ve been in the Bay for too long… Continue reading Rosemary Garden Bistro – Làng nướng Vườn Hồng

Party like spring harvest time

And eat an amazing cream puff. (Cream puffs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Cupcakes) Click to see my post on the Spring Harvest Tea Party at Teance tonight. We drank some eye-opening teas, literally and figuratively.

Ice cream and potato chips

– 2 scoops Dreyer’s Double Fudge Brownie ice cream – 1 scoop Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia froyo – A handful of potato chips Use the potato chips to scoop the ice cream. They may break, in which case lick your finger and get a spoon.

Chewy dried banana

They aren’t banana chips. Those are crunchy, not very sweet, and make you thirsty. These are chewy and packed with honey sweetness. They’re as addicting as soft-baked chocolate chip cookies and as healthy as dried blueberries. At least I like to think so when I nibble twenty of them in one go. Chewy dried bananas come in many shapes and sizes. Some were pressed into flat sheets (3-5 bananas to make a sheet), laid on bamboo panels and dried under the sun. Cà Mau is known for this kind of chuối khô, the main ingredient of the other 101 banana snack things in the South, e.g., banana candies. Other bananas are dried whole, and they turn into finger-long wrinkly banana fingers. Eurasia Delight sells two kinds: the normal chuối khô – more caramel looking, shinier, sweeter, shorter and chewier, the “organic” chuối khô – whiter, dryer, longer, not as good. Continue reading Chewy dried banana

In the Eye of Tea

After a 5-course afternoon tea, the three of us felt our stomachs’ calling. The wind blew chilly moisture from the sea. A hearty dinner of noodle in hot broth would hit the spot, one that was saturated with oolong. Quite appropriately, we walked into O Chamé, meaning “eye of tea”(*) literally and “playful little one” colloquially. It’s Mother’s Day, no reservation, we couldn’t be any luckier that the guy found us three seats at the end of the bar. Of course, who would skip the appetizers. And of course, we couldn’t decide on just one appetizer, so we ordered three. The potato and snow crab croquette ($8.50), buttery but mild, tastes ten times better after a dip in the plumier-than-usual-and-not-too-sour tonkatsu sauce. Usually I don’t dip my stuff, but the sauce is a must here. The grilled, caramelized eel ($10.50), Kristen’s choice, is great. Little Mom loves eel, and she would love this. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! 🙂 A bite into the crisp endive releases a burst of sharp, almost minty air to balance the eel’s fatty sweetness. Continue reading In the Eye of Tea

Pre-rain Dragon Well from the Lion Peak

The best (known) green tea of China. The cream of the cream of the crop. I feel sophisticated just drinking it. Paired with a tangerine bee pollen truffle and I almost hear little cherubim playing the lyre. You can read the whole story in my journal Tea & Mai. I’m off to dance in my head.

Vanessa’s Bistro, sweet and savory the Vietnamese way

“You girls know how to eat”, our hostess smiled at us, the check attached. Ten things. At a tapas place like Vanessa’s Bistro where everything sounds tasty, I’d say we did a pretty good job narrowing down our choices, and we asked for the house recommendations only three times. All rendered success. The first decision was the easiest: we’d got to get the sweet potato fries. Neither mushy like their orange cousins nor mealy like the white kinds, these Okinawan sweet potatoes, or purple yams, are sturdy in texture and just gently sweet. With or without the ginger aioli, they were loved. The small plates also stood alone splendidly, not that their dipping sauce came short. Black pepper cured filet carpaccio with roasted peanuts, fried shallots and Asian mint (húng quế). A twist on the classic Vietnamese bò nhúng dấm (carpaccio with vinegar) bò tái chanh (carpaccio with lime). (Thanks for the correction, Linh-Dang!) Continue reading Vanessa’s Bistro, sweet and savory the Vietnamese way