This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
The first time I went to Seoul House, the helpful waitress clued me in to the restaurant's best dish -- haemul dolsot -- and I've happily ordered it ever since. Don't get me wrong; the other stuff on the menu is good, but nothing quite compares to the simple, stone bowl pleasures of hot haemul dolsot.
Think of that stone bowl as the Korean version of a comal and you'll get a sense of why it's so important. The bowl is scalding hot and continues to cook the food after it arrives at your table, making the rice that contacts its surface crispy and nearly caramelized. Wait for your bowl to cool down before mixing all of the ingredients -- octopus, squid, crawfish and various vegetables -- or else you'll lose the effect.
The resulting dish is a playful, jangly heap of flavors and textures: crunchy rice mixed with soft, soft vegetables mixed with chewy squid, sweet seafood mixed with a spicy, vinegar-based red sauce that turns the whole bowl into a great ruddy feast. And if you're feeling extra punchy, you can even order it with a fried egg on top.
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The list so far:
No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19 No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe