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Two Faces of Mak Chin's

A new pan-Asian restaurant on Shepherd has a split personality

In the end, there wasn't anything special about the drink except for the clever name. It was just a Hornitos tequila and Cointreau marg in a tall glass with ice. My happy hour companion got a tropical sangria made with red wine, lychee juice and pineapple juice that was a little more interesting.

We ordered the bacon-wrapped egg roll appetizer. The egg rolls were cut on the diagonal and served on a little lettuce with the old-fashioned accompaniments of sweet duck sauce and hot mustard. The sweet-and-sour pickles from the condiment bar that we ate along with them were the best things on the plate.

We also got the salt-and-pepper chicken strips. They had a crunchy batter that was topped with a red pepper garnish. The dish reminded me of the fried cuttlefish appetizer I often get in Vietnamese restaurants -- only with boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of cuttlefish.

The bistro: "seven-flavored delight" with tea.
Photos by Troy Fields
The bistro: "seven-flavored delight" with tea.
The bar: lettuce wraps and a "Miso Hornitos" margarita.
Photos by Troy Fields
The bar: lettuce wraps and a "Miso Hornitos" margarita.

Location Info

Map

Mak Chin's

1511 Shepherd
Houston, TX 77007

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Heights

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Egg rolls: $4

Lunch specials: $7.50

Chicken lettuce wraps: $7

Pad Thai chicken: $9

Mango sweet and sour shrimp: $12

Thai curry chicken: $9

1511 Shepherd Drive, 713-861-9888.

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My cocktail companion talked me into trying the sweet-and-sour shrimp. He had it on a previous visit and loved it. I don't know why I listened to him. I haven't ordered a sweet-and-sour dish since I was 12. I had to admit it was probably the best sweet-and-sour dish I had ever eaten -- but that isn't saying much. I remember sweet-and-sour sauce tasting like orange marmalade thickened with cornstarch. At Mak Chin's, there was only a mildly objectionable sweet coating on the large shrimp, which were served with chunks of mango and vegetables. With the help of another bottle of sriracha sauce, I managed to choke it down. When we finished our cocktails and left, there still wasn't anybody in the restaurant.

Mak Chin's really is two different places. It's a great walk-up counter restaurant where you can get some great, fast, pan-Asian food at lunchtime. And it's a cool bar for drinks and appetizers, especially on Thursday or Friday nights, when there's a decent crowd. But if you stop by for takeout in the evening, I suggest you load up on hot sauce and chiles at the condiment bar. Just in case.

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