A Cafe Bites Nibble

Johnny Chang has been in the food business for more than 30 years. He owns one of Houston's top sushi restaurants, Miyako, and now is trying his hand at "selling sushi to the Spanish community," as he says, with his new concept called El Pacifico (5800 Bellaire, 713-218-0701), right in the heart of one of Houston's Hispanic areas. "We noticed that at Miyako, at least 15 percent of our customers were Hispanic, so we think there's a market for this. We also have a huge-screen TV, where we will be broadcasting lots of sports like soccer and boxing, and we'll have live music on weekends, like a salsa band one night and mariachis the next night. And since the restaurant is huge, there's plenty of room for customers to dance."

At El Pacifico, Chang is making fusion cuisine such as his "Chino Empanada," pork and scallions in Hoisin sauce wrapped in Chinese dough, and his "Taco Tako," which he explains this way: "'Tako' is Japanese for octopus, and we serve it like ceviche, with avocado and pico de gallo and a seaweed salad in a crunchy taco." Café Bites sampled the crunchy rolls covered in tempura, which were as good as any sushi served at Miyako. This was followed by "Empanadas Fusion," fish-stuffed dumplings in ajillo sauce, and the "Pacifico Special Cocktail," full of shrimp, oysters, octopus and fish in a tomato cocktail sauce served with a seaweed salad. All the food was extremely fresh, and the flavors formed from the fusion of Mexican, Chinese and Japanese cuisines was irresistible.

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