Get in loser, we're going to Pearland.
On this episode of Stuffed, we're heading south of the loop to Pearland's rapidly developing west side. In the last year, Houston's fastest growing suburb welcomed several exciting new restaurants to its culinary roster, most of which fall far off the radar of Houston food coverage. Among those underappreciated suburban gems is the recently opened Thai Jasmine Express.
The authentic Thai kitchen opened just a few months ago in an underwhelming strip mall off 288. While the location is brutally dull, Houston diners should know better than to judge a book by its beige stucco cover. Inside, both the service and menu are of rave-worthy caliber. This family owned and operated hole in the wall serves some of the best Thai food in the Houston area along with friendly and cozy service that makes you want to direct traffic into their lot.
While the menu features many of the Thai staples most Americans are familiar with — Pad Thai, yellow and red curry, spring rolls, cashew chicken — the chef has added a number of less Americanized specialties such as green papaya salad, mango sticky rice, and our Stuffed dish of the week, Thai chicken puffs.
These flaky little triangles are otherwise known around south east Asia as curry puffs, and in Thailand as karipap. A cousin of both the empanada and the Indian samosa, the curry puff came to Thailand and the rest of Asia by way of the Portuguese who incorporated curries into flaky European pastries.
The Thai karipap is traditionally filled with ground chicken, potatoes, and onions cooked down with curry powder into an almost paste-like consistency. The puffs at Thai Jasmine Express are fried not baked, made with yellow curry powder and wrapped with spring roll wraps for a flaky, crunchy finish.
In our experience the puffs come piping hot out of the frying oil so slow your roll if they look good enough to inhale. Which puts your taste buds in quite the conundrum because they are, in fact, good enough to inhale. These crunchy little dough pockets pack a punch of Thai curry flavor. The coconut milk and pepper really come through despite starchy consistency of the mostly potato filling. The dish comes with four generously sized puffs that make a great starter plate for two or a light lunch for one.
It's worrying that a less than spectacular location and what can kindly be described as a non-lunch rush will eventually spell doom for this newly opened family kitchen. If you're in the Loop, find a reason to brave the 288 traffic and head down to Pearland for a surprisingly amazing Thai lunch and an order of these quirky curry puffs. For those of you in Pearland, you have no excuse to keep sleeping on the best Thai food in town. And don't say we didn't tell you so! On second though, do say that; we like it.
Thai Jasmine Express is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 6 pm.