Little Cafe Du Bois in Kingwood

Little Mom likes Houston because it’s big, I’ve grown to like Berkeley because it’s so tiny I can get around without a car. Little Mom likes our big garden where she can grow 20 trees and who knows how many rose bushes, I’m content with my little dried-plum-container-turned-flower-pot in which I grow my onion. Point is, Little Mom likes big things, and I, well, sometimes like and most of the time don’t mind small things. But as often as she likes big restaurants, Little Mom likes little Cafe Du Bois in Kingwood. It makes me feel better than if I had liked Cafe Du Bois myself. The joy when you pick out a place and your company likes it, the more important the company to you the bigger the joy, and to top that with a company of people with sensitive, rarely pleased tastebuds, it feels like winning the lottery. And here my mom suggested that we should go to Cafe Du Bois again. She likes it for the roasted red snapper on rice with a light cream and tomato basil sauce, for being a mere 10 minutes from our […]

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Indulge in the dark

Pretty is the right word. Hearsay, or “Heresy” as Aaron calls it for some reason, warms your senses with a large yellow glass chandelier dangling several meters above the bar. The old walls, now lined with artsy thin bricks, bring to mind the image of a mahogany cascade from the high ceiling; tiny specs of light from the chandelier reflect off them like a meteor shower. It feels like a church almost. The only thing that could be remotely heretic here, if you understand “heretic” in its broadest meaning of “being different”, is if you don’t drink and you’re dining with a group of alcohol-appreciating friends just five feet from an alcohol-sparkling bar. Which is exactly what I was doing. But I found plenty of things to occupy myself with, taking pictures of food being one of them, which would not have been possible without the flash light from Harshita’s iPhone (there was practically no light beside the chandelier). Eating was another possible activity. Our group of odd number managed to share the even number of pieces in the Chef Nick’s Appetizer Plate without too much a fight: the beer-batter-fried asparagus is the […]

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Rustic Italian in the old tavern

The 7-year-old Antica Osteria is much too young to be one of “the nurseries of our legislators”, but it sure feels like one: warm brick walls, dark wood work, an old house nested in the green, sleepy residential area northwest of Rice University, and a patronage mainly composed of old white men. The smell of books might have been replaced by the smell of pasta and cheese (this place was previously a bookstore), but Chef Velio Deplano and his partner Ray Memari have kept Antica Osteria in that hidden, rustic, peaceful feeling of a bookstore. The gentle orange light made me excited like a drifting sailor seeing a lighthouse. Normal bread and butter, not bread, vinegar and oil, accompanied our post-ordering conversation, followed by some airy garlic bread. A tiny voice in some little corner in my mind whispered that the garlic bread was waiting for the salad to travel down the pipe, but who could resist such beautiful orange color. We made sure that the garlic bread’s presence on the table was as fleeting as its texture. 😉 The insalata campagnola was great by itself anyway. […]

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What to get and not to get at Dara

Diagonally across the intersection from Crepevine on Shattuck are one Thai restaurant and one Thai-Lao restaurant, right next to each other. We know that it’s pretty much impossible for us to get a pure Lao dish in America, given that we can’t really tell the difference between Lao and Thai names. Still, the three-lettered word addition on the sign has an alluring effect on us mini-globavores. So we choose Dara over Cha Am. Secluded high above street level with a red brick gradation ascending up to the door, Dara offers its patrons two seating choices: out in the garden curtained by a multitude of mini palm trees, bamboos, and kalanchoes, or indoor, surrounded by faux gilded statues, metal vases, and wall ornaments. There’s no music; except for the talking in the kitchen far back, the only sound you hear here is your own voice. The dinner menu at Dara has a list of house specialties, Lao finger foods (with familiar items like sai gauk, satay gai, noke todd, nam lao), various noodles and curries, and of course, pad thai for […]

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Venus and the Casual-Cali dining trend

In foodie talk, Berkeley is synonymous with Chez Panisse: there’s hardly a writing of Bay Area cuisine without the mentioning of Alice Waters and her propriety. But as attractive as the local and sustainable idea sounds, places like Chez Panisse are clearly not in the accessible range for everyone’s weekly, or even monthly, savour. If it’s not what the locals regularly eat, how can it represent the local cuisine? The common Berkelers don’t make one month reservation to eat at a cafe, they instead would rather make a line on the sidewalk, waiting to be seated in 25 minutes or so-told by waiters with tattoos and spiky hair. Such casualness, though paired with obvious reduce in taste innovation and price, defines the Berkeley dining spectrum, with the holes in the wall like Razan’s Organic Kitchen and Gregoire at the cheaper end, to more comfortable sit-downs like Herbivore and Venus at the other. I call it a sit-down because Venus is barely bigger than a classroom, and diners are spaced more snugly than students on exam day. Its rectangular base holds a kitchen-cashier combination and roughly 40 […]

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