When you're running errands around Bellaire and don't have time for a full meal, but just need a little nibble on the go, here are ten irresistible snacks to pick up. Alternatively, if you want to spend the day going on a food crawl through Chinatown with a few of your best foodie friends, these are some top destinations to visit and we would fully support your use of time.
Leek fried bun from San Dong Noodle House: Filled with glass noodles and sautéed leeks, these fried buns are kind of like giant dumplings with a thick, doughy skin that's fried to a golden crisp on the bottom. Hearty, salty and extremely filling for just a few dollars.
10. Bird's nest shrimp ball from HK Dim Sum, 9889 Bellaire
Ah, dim sum, the ultimate snack food. The crispy bird's nest shrimp ball is a savory shrimp ball wrapped in a mass of flat rice noodles that are fried until they're so crisp they nearly shatter upon consumption. They're messy, but a perennial dim sum favorite if you're just going to choose a couple of bites. The best part about HK Dim Sum is that dim sum is served all day on most days (though minus the classic dim sum carts), until 10 p.m. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the restaurant closes at 5 p.m.
9. Lu dou dan bing (mung bean crepe with egg) from Classic Kitchen, 9888 Bellaire, Suite 108
You can get this with or without youtiao (a long, crispy-soft fried Chinese doughnut) stuffed in the middle. Of course, we recommend it stuffed. Although we once received a "mung bean crepe" wrap that looked more like a tortilla, the combination of crepe, egg and fried dough is delectable any way it looks. If you're there around breakfast time, definitely try the fresh youtiao on their own with a side of soy milk for dipping.
8. Garlic cheese stick from 85°C Bakery, 9750 Bellaire
After tasting all the pastries at 85°C we could get our hands on, the garlic cheese stick rose to the top as one of the best breads we tried. The salty, cheesy topping melds into the slightly sweet, fluffy white bread for a super-addictive snack.
7. Dumplings and more from San San Tofu, 6445 Wilcrest
Aside from the plentiful buffet line, the store side of San San Tofu is littered with interesting food finds that you'll want to grab to snack on later — homemade soy milk, freshly made tofu, deep-fried tofu, vegan dumplings and a huge array of packaged snacks. At the hot food line, you can grab takeaway congee, vegetarian hu tieu (rice noodle soup), a vegetarian version of bun bo hue (vermicelli and beef soup), dumplings, sweet sticky rice, tofu pudding and more. Dishes are mostly vegetarian or vegan.
6. Egg custard tarts from ECK, 6918 Wilcrest, Suite A
ECK stands for Egg Custard King, and this place is indeed the king of really excellent egg tarts. With inimitably flaky crusts and a silky, nearly translucent custard filling, they're just $1 each and super-satisfying little bites.
5. Banh bot chien from Tan Tan, 6816 Ranchester
If you're running into the Jusgo grocery store for some Asian market goods, Tan Tan is conveniently located in the neighboring strip mall. Just a short five-minute walk away, and banh bot chien — or soft squares of fried golden rice cakes cooked into a sea of savory egg, topped with crispy shallots and green onion — can be yours, possibly the most delicious mixture of protein and carbs and fat. Balanced snacks for the win.
4. Chicken wings from House of Bowls, 6650 Corporate Drive
Call in a to-go order of the chicken wings that everyone raves about from House of Bowls on your way over from your next haircut: They generally take about 10-15 minutes to prepare and come out hot and crispy. Try the salt and pepper, pepper and scallion, or black pepper and honey wings — they're guaranteed to be full of flavor and actually are probably not a good idea for a snack to eat in your car, but #yolo.
3. Rolled ice cream from Class 502, 9889 Bellaire, Suite d220
With five classic flavors, including "mind-blowing matcha," "sassy strawberry and banana" and cookies 'n' creme, Class 502 offers its signature rolled ice cream in flavor combinations to match any sweet tooth. Monthly specials are another option, and you can even customize your ice cream base with the 502 frozen yogurt for a slightly healthier twist. Either way, you'll get a substantial serving of ice cream in one of the prettiest packages you'll find around Houston.
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2. Lava toast from Mein, 9630 Clarewood, Suite A13
This is perhaps best for a late-night snack since Mein is closed during the highly snackable hours of 3 to 5 p.m., but stopping for a pick-me-up of the lava toast is totally worth it. Stuffed with a brilliant egg yolk custard and topped with condensed milk, this huge brick of fluffy toast is a great pick-me-up if you're craving sugar and a lot of carbs. For a savory option, the red oil dumplings, sansai egg tofu or herb salmon are all tasty options — but then you might as well stay for a meal.
1. Shaved ice at Star Snow Ice, 9889 Bellaire
The only downside of Star Snow Ice is that you'll really have to find someone to share an order of shaved ice with lest you end up with a brain freeze from slurping down the addictive combination of feathery shaved ice, sweet condensed milk and chopped ripe fruit too fast. You can, of course, also opt for the hot grass jelly soup, the hot tofu pudding or a more mobile cup of boba tea, but the allure of the shaved ice is hard to resist.