Revisiting Blu in Sugar Land
Bang Bang Beef were bangin' good!
Photos by Mai Pham
Here's the thing about Blu Restaurant & Lounge in Sugar Land's Town Square area: It looks more like a club than a restaurant. With its Miami-white facade and huge projection screen on the back wall, it could also be mistaken for one of the newer, hipper sports bars. And you wouldn't be wrong for mistaking it as such, because it is all these things. It's a great place for a drink. The screen is fantastic for watching a Texans game or whatever game they're projecting, and from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekend nights (Thursday through Saturday), the space turns into a club.
The problem with thinking of it as a club or bar, though, is that it's easy to forget the restaurant aspect of Blu. And this would be a mistake, because the food at Blu, created by executive chef Junajett "Jett" Hurapan, who was profiled as part of our Chef Chat series last year, is absolutely delicious.
Assorted appetizers: Tasty meatballs, dumplings, and satay chicken and beef
Hurapan, who is of Thai descent, creates an upscale Asian food with a strong Thai influence. Utilizing ingredients like fish sauce, lime, sambal, ginger, cumin, coconut and tamarind, he creates flavorful dishes with an ease and finesse that other chefs can only try to emulate.
On a recent visit, he reminded me of his skill with a masterful rendition of his Bang Bang Beef, a Thai beef salad topped with red onion, basil and peanuts and finished off in a sweet chile-and-lime-based fish sauce vinaigrette. The beef was super-tender, the balance of acidity, spice and sugar rendered with such perfection that every single person (we were a party of nine that night) who tried it couldn't stop talking about how good it was.
Likewise, an appetizer sampler plate that included sticky glazed meatballs exploded with an almost caramelized sweet and sour flavor. Thai-style chicken and beef satay skewers, char-broiled yet moist, came to life with the addition of a sweet peanut sauce topped with crispy-cold cucumber and chopped peanuts.
Massaman braised lamb shank - huge and delicious
Other hits of the night were the Thai-style ceviche, a dish that included cold mussels, calamari and shrimp in a tangy lime juice and Thai chile oil marinade, as well as the very generously portioned Massaman lamb shank steeped in a rich coconut-curry sauce. His famous three-flavor crispy fish, flavored with a spicy tamarind glaze, didn't disappoint either, and remains one of my favorite fried fish dishes in the city.
"I always thought it was just a bar and club; I had no idea there was a chef on staff making this kind of food," remarked my friend, who regularly visits Sugar Land Town Center but had never been to Blu before.
House made sorbet duo with fresh fruits
The hits didn't end with just the savory items either. Hurapan's wife happens to be a pastry chef, and she also happens to work with him in the kitchen. Her desserts were lovely as well: A tropical fruit sushi, made of mango, kiwi, pineapple and papaya over a mound of coconut sticky rice shaped like sushi; a house-made sorbet duo of mango and blood orange prettily presented with small chunks of fruit in a flower pattern; and a chocolate mousse cake with caramelized banana and strawberry sauce, served à la mode.
"You've sold me!" someone who was following me on Twitter posted after seeing my Instagram photos from that evening's meal. "I want to go back NOW!" she tweeted.
And seriously, the food alone is worth the visit. No matter that at 10 p.m., the server asks us if we're going to join their "club" for that evening, and we start seeing after-dinner party-goers file in decked out to the nines in high heels and colorful blazers. If you don't want to deal with clubbers, just go a bit early on weekend evenings and plan to leave before 10 p.m.
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