Burger-Chan, 5353 W. Alabama, softly opened its location in the Galleria January 3. Terming it burger-chan 2.0, the new restaurant was meant to be a second location for the concept from Diane and Willet Feng. Unfortunately, in August 2020, the couple decided to close the Greenway Plaza food court location during the COVID pandemic and focus on reopening a flagship restaurant in the future. Its arrival in the new year of 2022 is a hopeful one but the Fengs admit that there are still supply chain issues and staffing shortages which are currently affecting hours of operation and menu item consistency.
The concept began in 2016 when chef and co-owner Willet Feng was determined to open his own restaurant. He used his fine-dining training to turn the office lunch spot at Greenway Plaza into a burger mecca, receiving glowing reviews that turned the food court into a dining destination along with another successful couple-owned business, Feges BBQ.
Because the restaurant is still in soft opening mode, it is asking that diners be patient with wait times and menu availability as it completes the training and hiring process. Customers can check its website for the updated opening hours here.
Underbelly Burger, 2520 Airline, opened January 6 at Houston Farmers Market. The much-anticipated burger joint from Chris Shepherd will feature Angus beef from 44 Farms and Wagyu beef from R-C Ranch, which conveniently opened its R-C Ranch Butcher Shop at the market as well December 17, 2021.
Its standard burger is a slightly updated version of Hay Merchant's Cease and Desist Burger, which was popular at the craft beer spot from Underbelly Hospitality. It offers two meat patties, two slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles on a potato bun. For fans of Shepherd's bacon sausage, there will be a version in hot dog form. Hay Merchant regulars who will be devastated when it closes January 22, can find solace in the chicken sandwich at UB Burger that similarly uses black pepper buttermilk as the Hay Merchant version did. For veg-heads, there's a house-made veggie burger, too.
The dining area is small as well, offering 14 seats in the 1,200 square-foot space but there are plenty of outdoor tables throughout the market so customers can pick up orders at the side window to enjoy a burger en plein air. Those who opt to eat in the restaurant will find a classic diner space designed by Amanda Medsger with vintage burger memorabilia collected by Shepherd as well as a hand-painted "burger guys" on the wall by local artist Matt Tabor.
That success has led Chi'Lantro to be featured on the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and even an episode of ABC's Shark Tank in 2016. Kim's "Original Kimchi Fries" are one of the reasons behind the popularity of the brand. The hot French fries are topped with caramelized kimchi, Korean bbq, onions, cilantro and sesame seeds, then finished with its signature magic sauce. Kim estimates that the restaurants serve more than 200,000 orders a year.
Also on the menu are its Korean fried chicken wings, rice and noodle bowls plus Ssams, a Korean-style wrap.
As for choosing to make a permanent foray into the Houston dining scene, Kim says, " To me, Houston being one of the most creative and diverse cities in America makes it the perfect setting for serving Korean BBQ cuisine approachable and fast. I have been wanting to open a physical location in Houston for a very long time since we left with our food trucks in 2014. The timing is right and I can't wait to serve our beloved customers in Houston."
Now, Yeung and his team are eager to bring a new restaurant to life, this time within the inner loop. It will also focus on sushi and Japanese cuisine but with an adventurous and forward-thinking menu. Yeung says the timing is good as Tobiuo itself is doing well and that his team is strong. In fact, several of the Tobiuo staff will make the move to Money Cat, including general manager and founding partner at Tobiuo, Le Chau (Roka Akor, Oporto, RA Sushi). He will use his cocktail and wine background to lead the beverage program at the new venture as he has done at Tobiuo.
Money Cat will open for dinner service only with tasting menu options and a balance of cold preparations and cooked items. Yeung has been experimenting with koji fermentation so guests can expect some interesting flavors.
Cocktail lovers can expect offerings like Spanish-style gin and tonics, martinis, cosmopolitans, Tom Collins and a mint julep. Besides classic drinks, there will be house cocktails such as New Beginnings made with Avonak vodka, mixed berry shrub, house-made orgeat and lemon juice. For something a little stiffer and more unusual, the True Texan Old Fashioned uses brown butter fat-washed Avonak whiskey, toasted pecan syrup and black walnut bitters.
One Fifth Red Sauce Italian, 1658 Westheimer, closes January 22 and with it goes the One Fifth concept that Chris Shepherd began as an experimental restaurant with partners Kevin Floyd, Whitney Mercilus and Steve Flippo in 2017. The plan was Five Years/Five Concepts. However, over the past five years, some plans changed and concepts were scrapped as new ideas were constantly popping up from Shepherd and his team, much of it during the COVID pandemic.
Starting out as One Fifth Steak, the One Fifth concept went through iterations such as Romance Languages, Gulf Coast, Southern Comfort, Mediterranean and also as a brief pop up for another Underbelly Hospitality restaurant, Georgia James Tavern.
When One Fifth Red Sauce departs, Georgia James steakhouse will move into the space after it closes its 1100 Westheimer spot January 23. It will remain at the 1658 Westheimer location until its future home is ready at Regent Square, 1203 Dunlavy.
Underbelly Hospitality announced in November that it is not completely foregoing the red sauce fare. Its second concept at Regent Square will be an Italian family restaurant, Pastore. Unless something changes in the next year, which is always a possibility with Chris Shepherd.
Osaka, 515 Westheimer, will relocate to 500 Westheimer across the street January 6. It closed the previous Westheimer location January 2 in order to make the move. The upscale Japanese restaurant has been in Houston for over 20 years.
The company was founded by longtime restaurant owner Barrett Allman and his son Nathan in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. It now has franchised locations in 65 markets. The company uses local, professional chefs to prepare affordable meals for the week in the homes of their clients. The menus are customizable and take into account food preferences and dietary concerns of the individuals that are being served.
The program offers convenience for seniors and also an interactive experience and social time for the clients, giving them freedom to remain in their homes while receiving nutritious meals. For more information, check out its website.
A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to the Clutch City Foundation which was started in 1995 by former Rockets owner Leslie Alexander as a community outreach with youth initiatives and education programs for those less fortunate.