Bernard Says "Hi" and "Pass the Dumplings"

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We met Bernard Brunon for dim sum at Empress Pavillion restaurant in Los Angeles Chinatown last week. After 18 years in Houston, the French artist accepted a job offer in Tinseltown a couple of years ago. Bernard was a familiar fixture on the Houston arts scene, and he told me to say "hi" to all his friends back in Houston.

Surprisingly, the dim sum at Empress Pavilion was just average. There weren't any interesting seafood dishes like you get at Fung's Kitchen, and the dumplings weren't as fancy as the ones at Kim Son in Stafford. There was only one choice of tea. And the service was so awful, I had to get up and get my own water. I did like the little condiment dishes they give you that are half full of chile paste and half full of mustard.

But it was great to see Bernard and his wife Nancy Ganuchaeu. If was very difficult for me to see Bernard leave Houston. He is an oyster connoisseur and one of the best shuckers I know. He was also my favorite person to take along on a review of a French restaurant. Bernard taught me all about andouillettes, the French chitterling sausages that I thought I didn't like. He made me realize that, properly prepared, they actually taste great. He was also the first person I called when I found a taco truck with great offal tacos.

I think I may have persuaded Bernard to time his next visit to Houston to coincide with the peak of oyster season. I promised them a "welcome home and start shucking" party.

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