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Fu Fu Cafe

A spartan Chinese cafe on Bellaire is the city's hottest new dumpling destination

“Since they moved, they aren't any good anymore,” the guy said. “The broth for the noodle soup is thin, and the dumplings aren't right. Fu Fu is like Santong was before they moved.”


The first thing on the menu at Fu Fu Cafe is the “A1 Spicy Beef Noodle Soup $3.95.” The combination of deep-brown beef broth, thick, chewy homemade noodles and spicy seasonings is a dream lunch. But the beef that comes in the soup presents a problem.

Get your soup in a bowl, or in a dumpling.
Troy Fields
Get your soup in a bowl, or in a dumpling.

Location Info

Map

Fu Fu Cafe

9889 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, TX 77036

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Soup dumplings: $2.50

Pan-fried dumplings: $3.95

Green beans with pork: $6.95

Hot spicy chicken: $6.95

Beef and broccoli with flat rice noodle: $7.95

9889 Bellaire Blvd., 713-981-8818.

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The big chunks of beef have been cooked for hours and hours, so they fall apart easily. But it has some softened gristle and fat in it. Some folks eat it fat, gristle and all. Others squish the meat up on a separate plate, remove the offending gristle and return the cleaned meat to the bowl. You can also get the same awesome noodles in a pork-and-mustard green soup, a seafood soup or a double mushroom soup.

Fu Fu's signature “pan-fried pork dumplings” are long rectangles with open ends that look like miniature hot dogs. Fresh out of the pan, the thick dough is crispy on the bottom and noodle-soft on the top. The meat is a loose pork mixture that isn't especially spicy.

These big, meaty dumplings are gaining in popularity in Houston thanks to the rise of Beijing-style restaurants like Fu Fu Cafe and Xiong Cafe at 9888 Bellaire Blvd. The Beijing-style dumplings are sensational, but Fu Fu has ten other varieties of dumplings and pork buns to choose from if you're looking for something else. I can't wait to try the chicken dumplings, the pan-fried pork buns and the mushroom dumplings.

In four visits, I have also sampled the al dente green beans tossed with pork and garlic sauce, which were terrific, and the Kung Pao chicken, which was nearly identical to the spicy Szechwan chicken, with the addition of peanuts and Szechwan peppercorns.

Boring items include the salt-toasted squid, which is too chewy. And too bad they pour bland, gloppy beef and broccoli in brown sauce over the top of the fabulous pancake-like “crispy flat rice noodle.” The flat rice noodle is actually a whole lot of thin rice noodles cooked together into a disc. With a tastier sauce, this dish would be fabulous. But these are minor complaints.

I keep inventing reasons to go back to Fu Fu Cafe to try one more thing. And I still haven't eaten any of the funky clear noodles or the savory rice cereal called congee. I want to try the congee with lobster. The truth is, I won't be happy until I sample all 120 items on the menu.

If you are an adventurous eater looking for some new Chinese dishes to try, go eat lunch at the Fu Fu Cafe immediately. If you have to bring along somebody who only eats mainstream Chinese food, don't worry. There are plenty of safe bets like the dumplings, the green beans and even sweet-and-sour chicken on the menu.

But be forewarned: Fu Fu Cafe is a restaurant that caters to Asians. The $4.95 lunch specials might include deep-fried pork intestines, periwinkles and preserved eggs. And, no, the specials don't come with egg rolls or hot-and-sour soup.

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