HOUSTON – In the spirit of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, here are some recommended restaurants from KPRC 2′s Rose-Ann Aragon, Howard Chen and Sabiha Mahmood.
Considering the vast degree of diversity in the city, there also comes with it different tastes. These are some you can try that we love.
NOTE: No fees were paid from any of the establishments below and they are not sponsors - these recommendations are truly some of our faves. Enjoy!
Noodles are a strength here. Visually, you can see the fresh noodles get sliced into a pot of boiling water by a machine dressed like a human. I’m a fan of their eggplant and pork knife-shaved noodles. The sauce is simply exquisite. Oh, by the way, their scallion pancakes are pretty delish too. - Howard
By now, many foodies have discovered Mala Sichuan. Their menu has plenty of variety -- it’s hard to go wrong here. The dish that stands out to me at Mala is their Dan Dan Noodles. I personally feel Mala has the best Dan Dan Noodles in town. Tip: make sure to stir the noodles with the sauce at the bottom immediately upon the bowl’s arrival to your table! - Howard
Ever thought it was possible for flavored shaved ice to have the texture of ice cream? Try Nu Cafe, where you almost can’t tell that it is indeed shaved ice with how things taste with different customized flavor combinations. A personal favorite: the durian shaved ice with mangos and drizzled on top with condensed milk. Try it all in one bite to get the tartness of the mangos combined with the subtle sweetness of the durian (when it’s frozen, you don’t get the durian’s smell with it!) and then the flavor of the condensed milk puts it all together. If you’re looking for something sweeter, the peanut shaved ice combined with brownie bites or chocolate chips, plus chocolate syrup drizzle basically makes this into a virtual Reese’s frozen treat. Portions are generous. The small version is enough usually to share amongst 1-3 people, so keep that in mind as you order and enjoy! - Howard
This is a good spot for dumplings, pot stickers, and beef noodle soup. However, the big draw, personally, for me here is the dumplings in beef broth. It feels like, with each bite, the meat filling from within each dumpling can get the moisture of the richly-flavored beef broth. Combined with pickled vegetables and some green onions, this dish is a real winner. - Howard
Speaking of that beef broth, the beef noodle soup at Star Ice & Teriyaki is delicious, yet very economically priced. San Dong’s beef noodle soup is also good, but my personal favorite is at Star Ice & Teriyaki. This place had emerged as a popular bubble tea/shaved ice shop in the late 1990s. The bubble tea and desserts still exist and there are now multiple Star Snow Ice shops around, but the one with the beef noodle soup is the one in Dun Huang Plaza on Bellaire. - Howard
Want some Taiwanese cuisine? It is sometimes hard to find in Houston. This is one of the rare places in all of America (TRUST me on this) to find Taiwanese Pork in Thick Soup, a dish readily available at street vendors in Taiwan. I will say my mother does the best version of this dish, but Tainan Bistro’s is a good fallback version. By the way, there is some history behind Tainan Bistro’s location. Millennials will remember this spot for what used to be Big Ten Cafeteria. Big Ten is legendary in Asian circles for Houstonians, but even with Big Ten gone, Tainan Bistro is solid in its place. - Howard
The really cool thing about Houston’s diversity is that you have different restaurants with different go-to dishes. The go-to for me at Xing’s Kitchen in Sugar Land is their chili oil noodles. The bowl comes out steaming hot. The noodles are SO fresh. Those noodles soak in the flavor of the chili oil flavoring, the sauce, and when you combine this with the vegetables, this is a must-have. By the way, for all you vegetarians, this is an extremely strong vegetarian dish. If you have trouble finding Xing’s Kitchen, it’s inside the entrance of the Jusgo supermarket on Highway 6 in Sugar Land, right beside the Sugar Land version of Mala Sichuan. - Howard
There are SO many good bubble tea spots in Houston. I have my different drinks I order at different spots such as Feng Cha, Gong Cha, Hella Bubble, Mr. Wish, Tea Top, Kung Fu, Sharetea, Tiger Sugar, and Yumcha. Yes, there’s more than that too. Why I chose to separate Xing Fu Tang is the freshness of their tapioca pearls inside the drinks. They literally make it in a giant wok right in front for everyone to see. I’m a big fan of their dalgona coffee boba milk. As I mentioned earlier, for different drinks, such as the fruity teas, you might want to go elsewhere -- I like the mango tea with fresh pulp and coconut jellies at Mr. Wish, the strawberry overload with lychee jellies at Feng Cha, and the tangy mango sago at Yumcha. I like all these with half ice and half sugar. We’re blessed to have so much great boba in the Houston area! - Howard
Bun Bo Hue Duc Chuong
Not all Vietnamese soup noodle dishes are pho. Bun bo hue is another type that has a richer and deeper taste. I personally prefer bun bo hue to pho because of this. Bun Bo Hue Duc Chuong only serves one entree - and that is bun bo hue. You just choose which size you want it. You won’t regret it. - Howard
The banh mi here is absolutely delicious! Having tried MANY places, this place has been the best - by far. I love the Cold Cuts Banh Mi - a Vietnamese sandwich made with French baguette. Their pate, meat and veggies are always fresh. I also enjoy their crispy Vietnamese eggrolls and their beef pho. It’s food that warms the soul. This would be a great place for a quick bite in Midtown! I crave this all the time. It’s a family-owned restaurant, and I see them all the time. Feeding people is their passion. - Rose-Ann
For Vietnamese foods, I trust the judgment of my Vietnamese friends more than I trust myself, and since my optometrist happens to be Vietnamese, I asked her for recommendations. She said Pho Sapa is the best. On a whim, I decided I needed to try it out and figured if I get there on a Sunday before noon, I would beat the rush. I was wrong. The line was already out the door. The place was packed.
But enough about the hype, there was plenty of substance. This is a unique spot where you have many variations of noodle types to choose from - rice noodles, egg noodles, clear noodles. What’s even better is that, not only is there bone marrow you can order on the side (a pho game changer for me), you can also order a side bowl of oxtail, beef meatballs, or beef bones to help take your pho to the next level. The taste is simply amazing. There are excellent pho spots in Houston (I’m certainly a fan of Pho Binh and the ability to order bone marrow there), but this is now my favorite and I’ll be back there soon enough. - Howard
The flavors of the dishes in this restaurant are addicting! I crave dishes like the Smoke Beef Rib Flat Noodles or the Braised Pork and Crispy Rice! Yum! The two chefs, Tony Nguyen and Christine Ha, have their own personal touches on the menu, generations of their family’s recipes combined or adapted into new recipes on the menu. The food here is top-notch because it’s not something anyone can just make at home. It’s filling, creative, yet with authentic flavors to Vietnamese cuisine. I enjoy eating here to see what more they’ve done and because I simply crave how unique their big-portioned, tasty meals are! -Rose-Ann
I’m a big fan of udon noodles. The curry beef udon at Ishin is hard to beat. The beef is so thinly sliced, the broth has a rich, deep curry flavor. Combined with some okra and sweet radish, I usually just straight-up wolf down an entire bowl in a matter of minutes. The carbonara udon also catches my eye, but I usually find myself going back to the curry beef udon time and time again. It is that good. - Howard
This place has the best service and freshest fish! It’s quality all-around. I enjoy their nigiri because the quality of the fish is so delicious. I also love anything here with Yellowtail - light, refreshing and beautiful. The Lobster Mac & Cheese is also a great choice. You can never go wrong taking someone on a nice dinner out or date here! They will leave simply impressed. -Rose-Ann
Houston’s ramen scene has been growing and developing. Currently, Ramen Bar Ichi sits atop my list when you combine the noodles, the broth, the taste. My fave is the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen, but there’s plenty of variation, including a vegetarian ramen and even a vegan ramen, which aren’t the easiest to find at most spots. - Howard
When it comes to Japanese food, I am so glad that I discovered this gem. Headed to the Tokyo Olympics, I was recommended this place by a member of the Japanese American community. Chef Naoki and his wife Renee are creative and passionate souls who prioritize freshness, seasonality (a Japanese must!) and Japanese technique and flavors in everything they do. Chef Naoki’s menu speaks to the heart of Japanese values and cuisine. It’s symbolic and truly delicious. His wife, did the interior design to represent major aspects of Japanese life and she also makes the desserts from scratch. They put love into their dishes -- fresh fish ... and also some creative dishes including the Bacon Mochi (handmade), Uni Cream Pasta and Japanese Souffle Cheesecake! -Rose-Ann
This place is truly authentic Filipino food made with love from a local Filipino family in Pearland. Even the ambience speaks to the Filipino spirit: karaoke, live band and buffet style (but you can order as well). It’s a family-owned business and a great way to get a taste of multiple Filipino dishes! My favorite is Kare Kare (oxtail stew with a peanut butter sauce). Some first-time must tries - Adobo, Sinagang (Sour soup) and Kaldereta. I love them. Reminds me of eating a home-cooked meal. - Rose-Ann
This Filipino dessert pop-up place is such a unique find! I was SO impressed by the quality of their delicious tarts. “Ube” is a purple root, like taro, that is a staple crop in the Philippines. The tarts are beautiful and the crust is so crunchy and fresh. This is a small business and the owner is so passionate about her desserts. I have tried a few things on their menu and loved them all. Her Instagram @UbeCoHTX shows the behind the scenes of how she makes the Ube Tarts! There are many more selections and she can make personalized gifts that are beautiful. - Rose-Ann
This is another restaurant where you can order different dishes and share. Their menu is robust with something for anyone in the mood for Pakistani or Indian food. I am a sucker for chicken lollipops (pun intended). But that’s only an appetizer. For the main course, try their biryani (rice dish) or curries. Nihari is my favorite, a slow-simmered beef stew curry. Eat this with naan. This restaurant doesn’t keep things plain. They also have garlic naan on their menu. The best part is that they serve non-alcoholic mojitos. I do not drink and the option to order a cool drink other than a coke product was refreshing. Plus, they provide you with flavored options: watermelon, mango, cantaloupe, and lychee. For dessert, try a South Asian version of a carrot dessert or ice cream called kulfi. Yum… kulfi, especially with drizzled rose syrup. Aga’s offers so much. You can’t experience everything in one day, but it’s worth going back. - Sabiha
Bismillah is known to keep food spicy! So spicy that they have three levels: regular, spicy, and mild for those who can’t handle the heat. Think of Bismillah as a Pakistani-fusion fast food restaurant. They offer not just traditional food, but also burgers and pizzas. If you want to slowly delve into South Asian food, try Bismillah. One thing is for sure, this place is always bustling. - Sabiha
This is the place for good Indian Pakistani barbecue. Just be prepared for the spiciness. My absolute favorite is Behari Kabab - tender, grilled beef strips marinated in South Asian spices that melt in your mouth. I like to add sweet, tamarind chutney for a sweet and spicy taste. They also have grilled chicken tikka and shish kabab. Pair it with tandoori naan (flatbread) or rice to help with the spice. If you can’t settle on one option, try this. My family would each order a dish and we’d share. That is after I set aside my share of Behari Kabab. - Sabiha
Click the video at the top of the page for KPRC 2′s Rose-Ann Aragon’s conversation with Paul Gor of Asian Chamber of Commerce Houston to learn more about how you can support AAPI businesses locally through Asian Restaurant Month.