Houston’s Asian restaurants offer culinary joy ride

April 28, 2017 GMT

Banana Leaf: A pretty dining room, attentive service and exuberant Malaysian fare mean there might be a line to get a seat in this Chinatown restaurant. 9889 Bellaire, 713-237-9600; 9896 Bellaire, 713-271-2338. SW

Bon Ga Garden: Everything served in this Spring Branch Korean restaurant - spicy stews, seafood pancakes, bibimbap - warms the soul. 9861 Long Point, 713-461-5265. Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. NW

Crawfish & Noodles: Houston has many Vietnamese/Cajun smashups and this is one of the best. The crazy popular restaurant serves up steaming bags of crawfish and crabs, as well as noodle dishes and fried seafood. 11360 Bellaire, 281-988-8098. Hours: 3-10 p.m. Mon., Wed.-Thu., 3-11 p.m. Fri., noon-11 p.m. Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun. SW

Ginger & Fork: Cantonese cuisine in a sophisticated setting from Hong Kong-born restaurateur Mary Li. Seafood entrees include stir-fried ginger lobster, steamed sea bass in soybean sauce, stir-fried scallops, and shrimp in velvet meat sauce. Craft cocktails, too. 4705 Inker, 713-861-8883; gingerandforkrestaurant.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tues.-Thu., 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun. Inner Loop


Huynh: This is home-style Vietnamese cooking at its finest, from stunning chargrilled pork soft rolls, to vivid duck salad, to flash-fried chicken with crushed rice, cabbage pickle and a frizzly fried egg. Major bang for the buck. BYOB. 912 St. Emanuel, 713-224-8964; huynhrestauranthouston.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Inner Loop

Izakaya: This Midtown Japanese-inspired pub is striking in design, but it is the marvelous fare that keeps the dining room jammed with foodies. Don’t miss the Vuelve a la Vida or the chicken-skin skewers. 318 Gray, 713-527-8988; houstonizakaya.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 11 a.m.-midnight Thu.-Fri., noon-midnight Sat., noon-11 p.m. Sun. Inner Loop

Kata Robata: Chef Manabu Horiuchi - known as Hori-san to the legion of fans who pack the sushi bar - has a gift with fish. And what’s served here is among the most carefully sourced protein in town. 3600 Kirby, 713-526-8858; katarobata.com. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri., noon-11 p.m. Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun. Inner Loop

Kuu: This contemporary dining room is a stage for chef Adison Lee, who marries Gulf Coast seasonality with the spirit of Japanese kaiseki. The menu is always evolving. 947 N. Gessner, 713-461-1688; kuurestaurant.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 4:30-10 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 4:30-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., noon-9 p.m. Sun. W


Maba Pan-Asian Diner: This semi-service Midtown newcomer cooks up modern spins on Chinese and Vietnamese classics with a clean, painterly aesthetic: General Tsao’s Chicken, grilled chicken vermicelli, lemongrass tilapia, pork belly banh mi, shrimp wrapped with Thai basil and bacon over fried rice, wok-tossed beef udon. 510 Gray, 832-834-6157; mabahouston.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun. Inner Loop

Mala Sichuan Bistro: This family owned business is known for its spicy dishes such as the Three Pepper Beaten Duck. Lightweights beware: dishes can run from fiery to tongue-numbing. Mala’s chef (Bellaire location), Jianyun Ye, is a 2017 James Beard Award finalist. 1201 Westheimer, 832-767-0911; 9348 Bellaire, 713-995-1889. Inner Loop, SW

Pepper Twins: The former Cooking Girl restaurant in Montrose has been renamed as Pepper Twins and now sports a twin in the River Oaks area. The food is country-style organic Chinese with strong Sichuan flavors. Try the Dan Dan noodles, Pepper Twins Fish, mapo tofu, salty pepper shrimp and pineapple-and-shrimp fried rice. 315 Fairview, 832-649-7175; 1915 W. Gray, 346-204-5644; txpeppertwins.com. Hours: 11 am.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Tues.-Sun. Inner Loop

Uchi: This Austin transplant from James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole turns out inspired sushi, sashimi and modern Japanese plates that are as pretty as the dining room. While reservations can be tough, the restaurant greets walk-ins with a smile. 904 Westheimer, 713-522-4808; uchihouston.com. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Inner Loop

Vieng Thai: There’s a reason chefs and wine professionals dote on this unpretentious restaurant on a scruffy stretch of Long Point. The flavors are exhilarating, it’s BYOB and the price is right. 6929 Long Point, 713-688-9910. Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-9:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. NW