Eating Our Hearts Out

100 Favorite dishes in the Bayou City

No. 12: Venison carpaccio at Thanh Phuong 3236 E. Broadway, Pearland, 281-412-7868

Thanh Phuong's venison carpaccio makes excellent use of soft, ruddy deer meat: Thin, opaque ribbons of venison are marinated in citrus juices and pungent fish sauce served with strings of red onion and shallot woven throughout and liberally doused with crushed peanuts for a sweet, nutty crunch.

No. 11: Camarones henesy en hamaca at Arturo Boada Cuisine 6510 Del Monte, 713-782-3011

No. 82: Short-rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
Troy Fields
No. 82: Short-rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
No. 43: Wings and grits at the breakfast klub
Katharine Shilcutt
No. 43: Wings and grits at the breakfast klub

A dish that loosely translates to "cognac shrimp in a hammock," this features a rich, velvety sauce that's an arresting blend of butter, white wine, soy and ginger. They're flavors that wouldn't seem to work with the additional components — hearts of palm, capers, tomatoes, sweet plantains and shrimp — but in chef Arturo Boada's hands, they do.

No. 10: Prosciutto and arugula pizza at Pizaro's 14028 Memorial, 281-589-7277

The combination of arugula and prosciutto acts as pepper and salt, balancing out the gooey mozzarella underneath and providing a wonderful spark of flavor to each bite of the simple, Napoletano-style crust laced with blisters from the massive oven that's the centerpiece of the restaurant.

No. 9: Crawfish at The Hideaway on Dunvale 3122 Dunvale, 713-977-3515

The Hideaway serves some of the best and largest crawfish you'll find. They're also some of the least expensive and come with corn and potatoes for no extra charge (important stuff here).

No. 8: Pho tai at Pho Binh 10928 Beamer, 281-484-3963

The family at the Pho Binh trailer makes the anise-scented broth from scratch, boiling down beef bones and seasoning it with rich cinnamon and caramelized onions. The pho is a blend of that tawny broth, slippery noodles, crunchy bean sprouts and thinly sliced ribbons of rare beef — with a silky sheen of beef fat floating on top.

No. 7: Ceviche at La Fisheria 4705 Inker, 713-802-1712

There's a range of different ceviches at La Fisheria, most made with Gulf red snapper, from a simple lime dressing on the El Cayuco to a ceviche verde marinated in Seville orange juice and served with mild, pleasant amaranth leaves in place of the more strongly flavored cilantro.

No. 6: Ma po tofu at Mala Sichuan 9348 Bellaire, 713-995-1889

Both ma (numbing) and la (spicy) are found in great quantities in the dark-red, steaming bowl of thick, jiggly tofu cubes and sweet pork that is brought to the table. After only a couple of bites, you'll notice that signature white-hot, palate-cleansing heat from the mala sauce.

No. 5: Machi cure at Uchi 904 Westheimer, 713-522-4808

In chef Tyson Cole's signature recipe, baby yellowtail is smoked with applewood chips and combined with fried yucca chips, Marcona almonds, sultanas and Asian pears in a white soy dressing infused with orange oil. It's a playful combination of smoke, salt and sweet with an irresistible crunch supplied by those yucca chips.

No. 4: Tuna and bottarga at Tony's 3755 Richmond, 713-622-6778

A take on the classic spaghetti with bottarga (cured fish roe, called "the poor man's caviar"), this beautifully straightforward dish takes freshly made tagliatelle and pairs it with rosy niblets of barely cooked bluefin tuna, velvety butter, delicately briny tuna bottarga and a light zesting of lemon.

No. 3: Roast summer squash at Oxheart 1302 Nance, 832-830-8592

Roasted summer squash with vadouvan — a French-Indian spice blend that's bracing and strong with notes of sweet fenugreek, turmeric, cloves and nutmeg against smoky cumin and musky curry leaves — and a squash blossom soubise shows how cleverly chef Justin Yu can transform even the most basic vegetable dish.

No. 2: Amberjack sashimi and foie gras at Kata Robata 3600 Kirby, 713-526-8858

Glimmering slices of amberjack have a thick, meaty flavor to them that belies their delicate appearance and therefore isn't overwhelmed by the livery fat from the foie gras. A scatter of crushed hazelnuts adds a welcome crunch to each bite, and olive oil adds a final slick ­sweetness.

No. 1: Korean braised goat and dumplings at Underbelly 1100 Westheimer, 713-528-9800

Even if you don't care about the backgrounds and influences that went into creating the braised goat and dumplings, you'll care about the tingle that sparks across your lips and tongue as you take your first few bites of the shredded goat in deep red gojuchang sauce. Then you'll start noticing the rich, dusky flavor of the goat and the sweet, nutty pops of sesame seeds scattered across the top of the dish. And when you get to the "dumplings," prepare for something that's more like thick, tube-shaped gnocchi — chewy inside but slightly crisp at its edges.

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Great list! Love that Hot Bagel Shop is on there. Really love that goat and dumplings too!