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Mai Pham

  • Blogs

    September 19, 2014

    The Great Banh Mi Cook-Off Was Really Great

    Creativity was on display in abundance Wednesday night at The Great Banh Mi Cook-Off competition organized by non-profit Vietnamese organization, Boat People SOS (BPSOS), as a fundraiser for their domestic violence programs. It started with the organizers, who successfully pulled off a change of v ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 16, 2014

    JohnMichael Lynch Named Executive Chef of Hotel Granduca

    After a nationwide, year-long search, the Hotel Granduca has finally named a new executive chef: JohnMichael Lynch. Since taking the reins approximately five weeks ago, the classically trained 31-year-old -- who is responsible for all aspects of hotel dining, from banquets, to pool and bar, in-room ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 11, 2014

    The 5 Best Happy Hours in Midtown

    If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced win ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 27, 2014

    First Look at Modernos Tacos Tex-Mex

    From the outside, Modernos Tacos Tex Mex looks like your typical nondescript strip mall restaurant. Come a little closer, however, and a charming design space awaits, complete with a funky local Mexican mural in the window, beckoning you to have a closer look. Just a month old, Modernos, located ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 19, 2014

    First Look at Pax Americana

    At the table next to us, three business-suit clad men let out exclamations of excitement when their first round of plates arrived. Many of the plates were topped with tufts of mixed green herbs, already something of a signature at the two-week-old Pax Americana. "We have a farmer who's planting the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 6, 2014

    Houston Restaurant Weeks at Churrascos Sugar Land: A Double Date in the Suburbs

    On a double date with old friends this weekend, we took advantage of Houston Restaurant Weeks and booked a table at Churrascos in Sugar Land. The beautifully designed restaurant -- which won the Houston Press Best South American Restaurant award in 2013, is often overlooked because of its suburban l ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 29, 2014

    First Look at Dosi, A Korean Small Plates Restaurant and Soju Bar

    It would be tempting to visit Dosi just for Korean fried chicken. The tempura-battered free range chicken comes to the table tantalizingly stacked in a mound of tasty, bright orange, spicy-sweet gochugang (Korean red pepper) glaze, without a doubt the best version you can find in Houston at the mome ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 9, 2014

    First Look at Regal Seafood: Watch This Chef Carve a Duck

    If you're looking for a new place to sample Cantonese cuisine, venture out of the loop to Stafford and visit the new Regal Seafood (12350 Southwest Fwy, Stafford, TX) restaurant. Owned by the same people who opened up E-Tao in the Galleria, Regal quietly opened a few months ago on the southbound Sou ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 20, 2014

    Houston Food Trucks Shine in 3rd Annual Curry Crawl Throwdown

    Fresh on the heels of the recent Kiss My Grits throwdown last week, I wondered: What kind of creativity would Houston's gourmet food trucks bring to the table for this year's 3rd Annual Curry Crawl throw down competition at Straits Asian Bistro? The answer was easy: A whole heck of a lot. In all, ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 16, 2014

    The 4th Annual Kiss My Grits Throwdown: Shrimp 'n Grits and Crafted Cocktails

    Four years ago, the first inaugural Kiss My Grits Gulf Coast Throwdown benefitting the Young Texans Against Cancer (YTAC) charity took place at Silver Street Studios. I still remember the first year vividly, because I got to see the chefs exercise an immense amount of creativity. I remember grits gn ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 15, 2014

    Taming Sugar Cravings and Balancing Blood Sugar: What I Learned at Monica Pope's New Food-As-Medicine Dinner

    "If there's one thing you remember from tonight, remember 15 grams," said Ali Miller, a registered dietitian who practices functional medicine. It was the inaugural dinner for the new Food-as-medicine dinner series she'd designed with chef Monica Pope at Sparrow Bar Cookshop, and we were about hal ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 7, 2014

    First Look at Bradley's Fine Diner

    It's clear when you walk into Bradley's Fine Diner, the new concept by James Beard award-winning chef Bradley Ogden, that his team -- helmed by Bryan Ogden, Bradley's son -- know what they are doing. It doesn't matter that the restaurant occupies the corner of an unassuming strip mall just south of ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 29, 2014

    Songkran Thai Kitchen Opens in Uptown Park

    As a college student at UCLA, Thai food was easy to come by. Aside from pizza, it was one of the easiest foods to get delivered, and I didn't realize at the time how spoiled I'd become by its easy availability until I moved to Houston. While we definitely have excellent choices for ethnic food, I'm ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 29, 2014

    Wine, Food and Booze: Recap of the 11th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Festival's Grand Tasting

    The 11th Annual Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair took place this past week. Last Friday, hundreds gathered at the Marriott Sugar Land Town Square for the week's signature event, the Grand Tasting. As in past years, the evening featured endless choices for wine and food. This year, however, there wer ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 28, 2014

    First Look at Punk's Simple Southern Food

    Walking into Punk's Simple Southern Food, the latest of the Clark Cooper Concepts restaurants and the next door neighbor to Coppa Osteria in the Rice Village, I couldn't help but be charmed by its down-home country vibe. Like the other restaurants in their portfolio (they also own Ibiza, Brasserie ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 17, 2014

    Recap: The 2nd Annual Big Taste of Houston

    "This is such a great event -- so many of Houston's best chefs all in one place!" said Matthew Lovelace, a sous chef at Osteria Mazzantini, as he offered me a sample of their Blackhill Meats lamb meatball and chicken liver mousse. His was one of the first booths I encountered at the 2nd Annual Big T ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 14, 2014

    Tableside Prime Rib Service and More at Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette

    I am always looking at pictures of food. One of my favorite pastimes, it's the reason why my Twitter and Instagram feeds (and now, my Facebook feed) are constantly crammed with photos of food, and why I spend countless hours mentally drooling over pictures of what people are cooking or eating. On ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 3, 2014

    A Farm-to-Table Peruvian Pisco Dinner at Latin Bites

    I distinctly remember the first time I met Johnny Schuler, master distiller for Pisco Portón. Schuler, known to Peruvians and pisco aficionados as "Pisco Johnny," is a TV personality in his native Peru, and the world's foremost authority on Peruvian pisco. It was April 2011, and we were meeting bec ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 31, 2014

    Soter Winery and Akaushi: A Tasty Pairing

    Eclipsed by the street construction taking place on the stretch of Westheimer Road directly in front of it, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, the restaurant by master chef Fritz Gitschner, opened this past November to little fanfare. Since then, however, the roads have cleared, and a new patio has been fini ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 24, 2014

    Going Healthy at Snap Kitchen

    True story: A girlfriend of mine lost 12 pounds doing the Snap Kitchen 21-day challenge. Now, I want to lose 12 pounds, too, but I have to be honest when I say that the thought of eating healthy, pre-packaged foods for any length of time does not appeal. "I eat with my eyes first," I told concept ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 11, 2014

    Spotlight on Chef Austin Simmons' Cuisine at Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

    I've been a fan of Hubbell & Hudson Bistro since I first dined there three years ago. Admittedly, I have not had the chance to return since then (it takes me about an hour to get to The Woodlands), but so memorable was the food that I can recall, with vivid clarity, one of the dishes I tasted during ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 4, 2014

    Truffles, Wine and Italian Hospitality: the Angelini Family Brings a Bit of Italy to Houston

    It happens more often than not: I taste a dish and it transports me to somewhere far away, to another country and another culture, to the place where I'd tasted that dish before. I recently attended a wine dinner that had that same effect, but it wasn't because of the food. It was because of the Ang ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 21, 2014

    Finally! Killen's Barbecue To Open Tomorrow

    It was a beautiful thing to watch: Ronnie Killen, unwrapping a huge slab of hot-from-the-oven brisket, then lightly shaking it to gauge the consistency of the meat. Moist heat curled upwards as the wrapper was peeled back, and the black-crusted meat jiggled as if it was a big block of jello. I kne ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 17, 2014

    Fung's Kitchen Celebrates Lunar New Year with Lions and Cantonese Food

    More than 300 people attended the annual Lunar New Year celebration and banquet at Fung's Kitchen. As in years past, chef and propietor Hoi Fung presided over the festivities alongside friend and colleague Martin Yan, well known for his television series "Yan Can Cook." Yan, who had flown to Houst ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 13, 2014

    Fish & the Knife Opens Today

    The almost austere, minimalist Fish & the Knife sign on the Westheimer-facing part of the building may be prominent, but it doesn't properly hint at the beauty that awaits inside. And if anything can be said about the Fish & the Knife, which has been under construction since 2010, it is that it is u ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 12, 2014

    First Look at Sur Latin Peruvian Cuisine

    You could say that discovering hole-in-the-wall places is a favorite pastime of mine. I love stumbling onto small, family-owned gems, where the cook is the dad or the brother or the uncle or the mother, the server and hostess is wife or mother or sister, and the waitstaff is the daughter or cousin o ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 13, 2014

    Oysters and Tuna Tacos: First Look at Caracol

    "I could come here just for this," I thought to myself as I sampled the unbelievably tasty ostiones asados, or wood grilled oysters, topped with chipotle butter at Caracol. The first of several dishes I tried during my first visit to Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught's new coastal Mexican seafood restaur ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 9, 2014

    Top 5 Prix-Fixe Lunches in Houston

    It's not every day that you'll want to indulge in a fancy meal for lunch, but when you do, a lunch prix-fixe is the only way to go. For a fraction of the cost you would pay for dinner, many of the best restaurants around town offer set lunch menus for your dining pleasure. Here are our picks for the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 6, 2014

    First Look at Nara by Donald Chang

    Nara. There's something so inherently sensual about the way in the which the name rolls off the tongue. Spoken with a Japanese intonation, the "r" sound takes on the form of a soft "d," so that that it sounds like a secretive whisper of some sort: "Nah-dhah." My first time there, I admit I didn't ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 25, 2013

    Feast Your Eyes on Tiger Den Yakitori

    In Japan, you'll find yakitori-ya spots -- places that specialize in yakitori, or skewers of chargrilled meat -- everywhere. The places are usually casual and fun, somewhat rowdy and raucus, a venue for friends to gather for an easy meal while drinking beer. This is exactly what you'll find at Tige ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 21, 2013

    Volcano Rice Wows The Crowd: Laudable New South American Dishes at Latin Bites

    The volcano rice arrived at our table to a chorus of wows: three hot stone bowls sizzling, crackling and steaming hot, with a colorful assortment of vegetables and meats arranged around a perfectly round yellow egg yolk. A Peruvian version of the Korean dolsot bibimbap, it was chef Roberto Castre's ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 14, 2013

    Fantastic Ramen Inside The Loop: The Spicy Soy Ramen at Kata Robata is Utterly Divine

    There's something about the colder weather that makes me crave a hot bowl of noodle soup. There are even days when I actually don a sweater or a jacket, days that are not especially cold, but I want something warm in my belly so I pretend it is near freezing outside and prepare to eat. That's where ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 29, 2013

    El Big Bad Is Coming Soon: Divine Tequila Cocktails and Chef-Driven Tex-Mex

    Located on the prominent corner of Travis and Prairie in the location that used to house Cabo's, El Big Bad, the offshoot of Lea McKinney and Steve Sharma's wildly successful El Gran Malo, is almost ready to open. The gorgeous copper-topped bar is in place downstairs. The large, inviting patio is ju ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 29, 2013

    A First Look at Tiger Den: Fresh Noodles, a Fine Robata Grill and Long Lines at the Front Door

    Houston has been waiting for a place like Tiger Den. A strip-mall restaurant in the popular Dun Huang Plaza at 9989 Bellaire Boulevard near the intersection of Beltway 8, the new ramen shop and izakaya debuted recently, and diners have had to endure waits of 30 minutes or more for tables. I'd been ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 15, 2013

    Caesar Salad Martinis, Sliders, Tandoori and More at the 29th Annual Caesar Salad Competition

    How many ways can you make a Caesar salad? This past Friday evening, Houstonians were treated to a total of 18 ways at the 29th Annual Caesar Salad Competition, held at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. The event, hosted by the Food & Bev ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 3, 2013

    A Story of Love: Silver Oak Wines at The Houston Cellar Classic

    The great thing about wine is that it can be an endless source of conversation. You can talk about everything from the nose, to the feel on the palate, to how it pairs with food. You can debate how it should be made, whether it should be aged in oak, which varieties of grapes blend well together, wh ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 1, 2013

    Old-School Service and Italian Classics at La Griglia

    Ah ... fall. What a great time of year. Time for Houston weather to (finally) cool down, for appetites to perk up, and for chefs across the city to introduce new dishes. If anything, it's definitely a good excuse to dine out and get to know places you've never tried before. I found myself doing just ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 30, 2013

    Fire Shutters MF Sushi

    A fire that began in the kitchen of MF Sushi early Sunday morning has forced the popular restaurant to close it doors. KHOU reported that the blaze was quickly extinguished by Houston firefighters. Chef Chris Kinjo told CultureMap Houston that he wasn't sure when the restaurant would reopen. "We ar ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 26, 2013

    7 Of Houston's Best Takes On The Classic Bacon & Eggs

    Last year, Urban Daddy rounded up some of New York City's best alternatives to the classic Bacon & Egg Sandwich. Well, watch out, NYC, because H-town's come to play. Readers, we give you seven of the most mind-blowingly delicious takes on bacon & eggs in Houston:

  • Blogs

    August 8, 2013

    12 Houston Chefs With Celebrity Doppelgangers: Restaurant Weeks Edition

    It's Doppelganger time! See which Houston local chef tried to steal a kiss from Natalie Portman and who plays for the MLB in his spare time. And don't forget to support Houston Restaurant Week by visiting the chef's restaurants all month long (special bonus: if you sneak into the kitchen without ge ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 16, 2012

    Top 10 Octopus Dishes in Houston

    Octopus. Regardless of how it's prepared, I generally love eating the squirmy, tentacled creatures. A great, low-fat seafood option, octopus has this wonderfully distinctive texture. It's also light and fun to eat -- the perfect summertime dish. Our city's chefs must feel the same way I do, because ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 18, 2012

    The Bold and the Blu in Sugarland

    After reading Mai Pham's Chef Chat series with Executive Chef Junnajet "Jett" Hurapan of Blu Restaurant in Sugarland, I knew a trip of my own to Towne Square was in store. I was lucky enough to attend a media tasting at Blu, where I tried delicious and innovative food and fancy cocktails in a trendy ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 9, 2011

    Hot Cross Buns: Houston's 10 Best Bakeries

    Get your green waffles at Parisian Bakery III.​My friend Dr. Ricky has long said that there should be a comprehensive list of all the wonderful ethnic bakeries in town. I don't disagree, and in fact that's a list for another time. Today, however, we're focusing on all the different forms and ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 9, 2011

    Buffalo Bayou Brewery: A Preview

    Photo by Mai PhamCrostini by Ryan Pera​ If you haven't heard about the Buffalo Bayou Brewery, one of the new local craft beer makers in Houston, it's probably because they haven't officially opened yet. But to get the buzz going and to let people know what's coming down the line, they held a ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 7, 2011

    Cute Alert: Lucky Dog Rescue's 4th Annual Gingerbread Doghouse Fundraiser

    Photo by Stuart RosenbergThe winning Lucky Dog Gingerbread House, by Julie Busch-Johnson and Liz Sanford Westwood Country Club​Some events just make you go "Aww," or in the case of the Lucky Dog Rescue Gingerbread Doghouse Charity Competition, "P-aww." The popular fourth annual event took plac ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 7, 2011

    Comment of the Day

    ​Yesterday, Mai Pham wrote about an unpleasant meal at Giacamo's, which was having A/C issues. Commenter Ivalee thought that was a deal-breaker: No matter how good the food may be at any restaurant, if the servers and management does not see to the customers comfort, they do not deserve your ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 19, 2011

    Comment of the Day

    ​Mai Pham told us all about a no-name dumpling place that apparently has some amazing...surprise, surprise...dumplings. Numerous commenters agreed with Mai's assessment, but there were also a few concerns raised. Toddyfree brought up one salient point: thanks for letting out the secret. here ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 27, 2011

    Franco-Japanese Meets Molecular Gastronomy at Soma Sushi

    Mai PhamAkaushi short ribs, truffle sukiyaki glaze, Boucheron goat cheese mousse​Soma Sushi is probably better known as one of those trendy restaurants. It's nestled in the heart of the Washington corridor at the Shepherd intersection, making it the perfect pit stop for some nosh before a nigh ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 27, 2011

    Comment of the Day

    ​Mai Pham had a spectacular dinner at Soma Sushi and took some beautiful photos. Readers liked the piece, and one was even inspired to pitch an idea: Katharine maybe this could be the basis for a good story or article? Houston's most underrated chefs as a storyline. People like Chef Hauck, wh ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 13, 2011

    Chef Chat, Part 3: Juan Carlos Gonzalez of Bistro Alex in City Centre

    Mai PhamDuck Debris & Butternut Waffle at Bistro Alex​The last couple of days, we've been chatting with Chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez at Bistro Alex (see our conversation here and here). Today, we'll taste cuisine he describes as "modern Creole with a twist." I started with his signature dish, th ... More >>

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