This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.
Our office recently moved to Midtown, meaning those of us accustomed to hitting up the Exxon cafeteria next door for a quick bite we can eat at our desks have had to make some changes. Finding new places to eat in Midtown (or, at least, new to me) has been an interesting adventure.
After I discovered Simply Pho when I reviewed it shortly after we moved, I've found myself there time and time again because I know the service is fast and efficient, and the food is good. I've discovered a nearby Chipotle and Which Wich, but most of the time I'd rather be supporting a local business than fast-food conglomerates. And so it was, a few weeks ago, that I finally listened to my friends' suggestions and drove to Nit Noi Cafe, intent on obtaining quick, stellar Thai food to bring back to my desk.
I got there after the lunch rush, so my to-go order of green "hurry curry" came out, well, in a hurry. It was almost as fast (and much more delicious) as our beloved Exxon cafeteria.
The green curry was everything a silky, soothing green curry should be, but with extra ingredients I've never before had in green curry, and they took it to the next level. In my experience, Thai green curry is made with coconut milk, lemon grass, basil, thai chiles, shrimp paste, ginger, garlic, cilantro, cumin and a few more spices. It usually has a protein and a few different veggies swimming around in the light green sauce, like thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, carrots, peas and red or green peppers.
I suppose everyone does Thai curry a little differently, but I wasn't expecting the hearty chunks of potatoes, the soft roasted tomatoes or the sweet, acidic pineapple slices, all of which added to the curry, rather than making it muddled, as I thought it might be before I tasted it. There was still the usual eggplant, carrots and snow peas, but the addition of these ingredients that I don't think I'd ever purposefully put together (potatoes and pineapple?) made the curry even more multi-dimensional than the dish usually is. Oh, and it really doesn't matter which protein you order. From the tofu to the shrimp to the beef -- it all pairs perfectly with fresh, green Thai herbs and spices.
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I finally got the allure of Nit Noi.
Not only was the curry sweet, creamy and hearty, but damn that stuff was spicy! I like my Thai food so spicy that it clears my sinuses, and this curry had just that effect. In fact, a co-worker walked by my desk and noted that just smelling it was clearing her sinuses as well. Don't worry, though; Nit Noi provides plenty of rice to cut the heat a little bit.
If you want to, that is. Which I did not. Ain't nothin' like some super spicy curry to get you out of a Friday afternoon funk and back to work.
The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19 No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood