When we saw it darkened, we thought Cafe Chino Pacific Rim [6100 Westheimer, (713)334-6688] had closed. It had, sort of. Husband-and-wife owners Eddie and May Chan sold the Briargrove Plaza restaurant little more than a year after they opened it in November 1998. "I always wondered if they had trouble with that location," speculates one former customer. "It was awfully hard to find the place, stuck away in that shopping center."
Auspicious or not, the room didn't stay shuttered for long. Buyer Kenneth Leong reopened it as Sushi Kanok on January 31. The new restaurant will specialize in -- you guessed it -- sushi, buttressed by a list of Thai favorites. "We really don't want to be in the newspaper yet; we still need some time for practice," Sushi Kanok's manager told me nervously. "Give us a couple of weeks before you say anything."
Chan started his restaurant career some three decades ago as a busboy for the legendary Uncle Tai's on Post Oak, which many consider the Houston forerunner of "haute Chinese" cuisine. The Chans still own and operate the two remaining Chino restaurants: the original Cafe Chino in the Village [6140 Village Parkway, (713)524-4433], which they opened in 1988, and the lunch-only venue in the downtown tunnel system [600 Travis, (713)223-1011], which they created five years later.
Fade to Noir
We got an e-missive the other day informing us that the ambitious Midtown restaurant formerly known as Cafe Noir [2606 Fannin, (713)659-5409] shall henceforth be called the World Beat Grille. Seems that after mulling it over for the past ten months or so, principal owner Carl Lewis felt that what used to be the restaurant's subtitle would make a better title. Generally speaking, restaurant name changes make us nervous -- potentially bad omens, don't ya know -- but this one sounds like an improvement.
Meanwhile, consulting chef Francis Walter has cooked up some new dishes for the rechristening, including Florida shrimp fritters, sea bass crusted in Japanese bread crumbs, and barbecued wild boar chops.
File it under "oopsa-daisy": On January 28 the Chronicle ran a Dining Guide notice on the closing of the Tuscany Grill [3910-C Kirby, (713)522-4722]. That part at least is true, if not exactly news. The landlord changed the locks on December 31, and the restaurant has been shuttered ever since.
The problem was, the Chron identified the Tuscany Grill's address as 4618 Feagan, the location of a different Italian restaurant, Tutto Bene, a restaurant that's very much alive and kicking, thank you very much. "Yeah, right name, wrong place," growls Tutto Bene's owner, Andrew Rebori. "I got about ten or 15 phone calls from neighbors and friends about that," he says. "But what the heck," Rebori adds, relenting, "it was an honest mistake, and a good piece of free PR for me, you know what I mean?"
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