Driving on Bellaire Boulevard to get to the majority of Chinatown eateries has been a challenge for some time now. The construction on Bellaire Boulevard in areas with the densest concentration of good eats has been ongoing mercilessly for at least a year, and traffic, not to mention safety issues arise for those planning to venture to this part of town.
The hardest restaurants to reach are the ones where there is no stop sign or signal, requiring cars to stop traffic in order to turn left or right to reach the parking lots housing the restaurants. Enter House of Bowls, located off the main Bellaire drag in a small strip mall on Corporate Drive. Reaching the restaurant is relatively easy because there's a lighted signal onto Corporate, and then navigation into the parking lot is a cinch.
Once you get there, the restaurant itself is cute and trendy, often patronized by young Asians, families and solo diners stopping by for a quick meal after work. The menu is well organized and very large, but is filled with well priced (most items less than $10), down-home, Hong Kong-style Cantonese comfort food that is satisfyingly hearty and delicious: Pan fried noodle dishes, rice dishes, stir fried vegetables, noodle soups. Much of the food is cooked in a wok, and, to ensure quality, the owner is onsite daily, often expediting the food herself.
The best thing on the menu? While some might vote for the Hong Kong french toast filled with peanut butter and topped with condensed milk (it's fantastic, for sure), the dry-style beef chow fun is the out-and-out winner.
The thick-cut glutinous rice noodles are never too dry or too oily (though there is definitely oil). A perfect coating of deep brown seasoning is seared into the very noodle itself, and the ratio of green onion, white onion, bean sprout and meat is just right, so that every bite contains meat, vegetable and noodle.
On taste, it's somewhat smoky and very savory, the textures of the onion and the sprouts providing good contrast to the soft chewiness of the noodles. Most Chinese places around town make this same dish, but their versions are never quite as right, many too oily, or imbalanced in flavor or ingredients.
So, for a taste of true, authentic, dry-style beef chow fun, go to House of Bowls. It's casual and kid friendly, there are plenty of other excellent menu choices, and leftovers are great for the next day as well.