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Openings and Closings: Dish Society West U, Mala Sichuan Sugar Land

Dish Society opens at Southside Commons.EXPAND
Dish Society opens at Southside Commons.
Photo by Sabrina Miskelly
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Dish Society, 4191 Bellaire Boulevard, opened December 18. This is the sixth location for the farm to table restaurant from Aaron Lyons who opened the first in 2014. Since then, Lyons has opened a new location every year. Located in the 1955 building which once housed Palace Bowling Lanes, the restaurant anchors the front left side of the Southside Commons, a two story mixed use development for dining, entertainment, retail and medical offices. The Palace Social, which will feature an eight lane bowling alley, will open next year in the spring.

Dish Society's interior is warm and bright.EXPAND
Dish Society's interior is warm and bright.
Photo by Kimberly Park

The new Dish Society was designed by Gin  Braverman of Gin Design Group.  Braverman had previously collaborated with Lyons on the Memorial Green and Heights locations. The company likes to call the West U restaurant the " Dish Society of the future" with its modern and clean aesthetic, soft lighting and greenery. A wall of staggered brick makes a stunning focal point and fluted patterned mosaic tiles line the bar walls. As with other locations, the new one has over-large windows letting in natural light play across the warm wood furniture and channeled leather banquettes. Lyons has also incorporated vintage mirrors that he picked up in Round Top, Texas.

The restaurant takes up 3,600 square feet of the 80,000 square foot development, seating 100 persons indoors and 55 on its ample patio with heaters and fans. There's also an indoor/outdoor bar.

Get fresh and local at Dish Society.EXPAND
Get fresh and local at Dish Society.
Photo by Kimberly Park

The menu at Dish Society includes a variety of soups, salads and sandwiches plus lunch and supper entrees such as Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie and Texas Pecan Pesto Pasta. The Farmers Plate allows diners to choose a protein and two sides.

Brunch at Dish Society runs 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, and  8 a. m. to 3:30 p.m. on the weekend. Guests can wake up with Greenway Coffee and dishes like the Southern Breakfast Skillet with local pork sausage, skillet potatoes, jalapenos, Gruyere cheese, gravy and sunnyside-up eggs. There are lighter items like Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast and sweet breakfasts such as Nutella French Toast.

The servers at Dish Society are masked up and ready.EXPAND
The servers at Dish Society are masked up and ready.
Photo by Kimberly Park

Dish Society also serves juices, elixirs, local craft beer and wine. Most locations, except San Felipe, have a full bar. The restaurant is counter service during the day and switches to table service for social hour and dinner. The Katy location is moving to a larger space at 2643 Commercial Boulevard in February 2021.

Enjoy a Sichuan feast at mala Sichuan Bistro.EXPAND
Enjoy a Sichuan feast at mala Sichuan Bistro.
Photo by Heng Chen

Mala Sichuan Bistro, 3412 Highway 6,  quietly opened this week in Sugar Land. This is the fourth location for the Sichuan restaurant from Heng Chen and husband Cori Xiong. Chen grew up in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province.

The couple opened the first Mala Sichuan in 2011 at 9348 Bellaire Boulevard, quickly gaining loyal diners and earning critical praise. The restaurant repeatedly lands on the Houston Chronicle's annual Top 100 Restaurants in Houston from food writer Alison Cook. Cheng's mastery of ingredients such as Sichuan peppercorns, red chiles, ginger and garlic and her complex sauces have introduced many Houstonians to the pleasures of the numb tongue.

Cori Xiong and Heng Chen expand their Sichuan empire.EXPAND
Cori Xiong and Heng Chen expand their Sichuan empire.
Photo by Kimberly Park

Over the years, the success of their Chinatown location has led them to open restaurants in Montrose and Katy Asiantown. The Sugar Land spot is located in the Jusgo Supermarket Shopping Center. Cheng and Xiong have a symbiotic relationship with the grocer going back to their early days at the Bellaire location. Much of the restaurant's produce comes from Jusgo so when the supermarket invited them to open at the shopping center, the couple jumped at the chance to bring Sichuan food to an area with a significant Chinese population but a dearth of Sichuan cuisine.

The new restaurant has a gorgeous interior.EXPAND
The new restaurant has a gorgeous interior.
Photo by Sabrina Miskelly

The restaurant seats 100 in its 2,300 square feet of space. The decor combines traditional Chinese elements such as open latticework paneling, slatted ceilings and carved facades in the warmly-stained wood with jade walls and variegated gray brick, yet keeping it minimalistic.

The menu includes cold dishes such as Mala Beef Tendon and Plum Spare Ribs. The Street Foods of Sichuan menu offers items like Dan Dan Noodle and the popular Red Oil Dumplings. For those a little more adventurous, there's the Jiggling Pork Belly or Sauerkraut Fish and Lamb Pot. For those less adventurous the restaurant has a fried rice and lo mein menu. The Spicy and Crispy Chicken is a good introduction to Sichuan cuisine, combining the spice of chiles and the unique flavor and numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns.

Phatties can still get their roti and curry fix at Phat Eatery.
Phatties can still get their roti and curry fix at Phat Eatery.
Photo by Dragana Harris

Phat Kitchen, 2616 Blodgett, left Blodgett Food Hall December 24 after a little over a month of residency. Owner/chef Alex Au Yeung is parting ways with Cloud Kitchens, the delivery-only venue that operates "ghost kitchens". Au Yeung said that the structure did not align with his personal business model, making it difficult to ensure the company's high standards of customer service. Au Yeung is the owner of Phat Eatery, a popular Malaysian restaurant in Katy Asian Town.

Au Yeung will continue to look for a permanent home for Phat Kitchen. Meanwhile, he and chef Cuc Lam are busy working to open Yelo in January 2021.  The new restaurant will offer creative banh mi sandwiches and other Southeast Asian dishes, some of which were on the Phat Kitchen menu at Blodgett Food Hall.

Tarka combines fast service with Indian cuisine.EXPAND
Tarka combines fast service with Indian cuisine.
Photo by Angelica Sousa

Tarka Indian Kitchen,  10550 Westheimer, is slated to open in May 2021. This will be the fourth Houston area location for the fast casual Indian restaurant based out of Austin. Systemwide, the small chain has ten stores including locations in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park and San Antonio. The new restaurant is looking to hire forty team members in the next few months.

The location at Citywest Retail Center will be the company's smallest. CEO and Co-founder Tinku Saini believes that the smaller footprint is ideal. In a press release Saini said, " Before the pandemic, off premises dining had become exceedingly popular but now, it attributes to an even larger part of our sales."

Tarka serves a variety of curries, kabobs, biryanis and its freshly baked flatbreads. Its lamb is pasture-raised, grass-fed and halal. It also offers a number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices.

Toast to the end of 2020 with morning cocktails.EXPAND
Toast to the end of 2020 with morning cocktails.
Photo by Graphic Design FX

The Toasted Yolk, 2535 Gulf Freeway S., opens December 28 in League City. The grand opening will offer diners free churro-style doughnuts and $3 mimosas. The first 25 guests will receive $25 gift cards. For the first time the restaurant is offering a digital raffle. Customers can scan a QR code and submit an email address for a chance to win 52 free meal cards, good for a year's dining. Entries to win are also available on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

The breakfast and lunch restaurant began in 2010 with friends Chris Milton and Mathew DeMott seeing a need for breakfast and lunch fare. With its motto, "It's never too early to get Toasted", the restaurant also offers plenty of hair-of-the-dog cocktails or less alcoholic mimosas. Coffee drinks and fresh juices are available for those who eschew day drinking, though this year, we could all use a stiff beverage.

Everything's better with hollandaise.EXPAND
Everything's better with hollandaise.
Photo by Graphic Design FX

The breakfast line-up includes omelets, pancakes, egg plates and other traditional morning dishes. Its take on eggs Benedict, The Arnold, is a traditional offering of English muffin halves, Canadian bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Its other "Arnolds" offer versions with twists such as fried chicken tenders and smoked salmon. It also has power bowls for healthy eaters.

There are traditional sandwiches like Rueben, BLT, Club and Patty Melt plus the Yolk Burger. Soups and salads round out the lunch menu. Breakfast and lunch are available 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The Broast Station, 11910m S. Texas Highway 6, will debut its food truck December 31, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. It serves its Broast bone-in chicken, which is battered and fried in pressurized fryers with its own secret recipe. It also offers chicken wings, tenders and chicken panini sandwiches. It's also halal. Sides on offer include slaw, French fries and a colorful three bean salad. The food truck also has chocolate chip cookies and cream cheese flan for a sweet finale.

Owner Todd Graves and Co-CEO AJ Kumaran debut Raising Cane's new trucks.EXPAND
Owner Todd Graves and Co-CEO AJ Kumaran debut Raising Cane's new trucks.
Photo by Joey Bordelon

Raising Cane's debuted its new custom-built food trucks December 24 on the Motor Trend Channel's Built for Business. the trucks are part of its "Cane's Across America" tour which plans to bring its trademark One Love meals coast to coast. The tour will begin in spring 2021 to lead up to its 25th anniversary in August. Those twenty-five years have seen owner and founder Todd Graves create a billion-dollar business selling chicken tenders with more than 500 stores across the country.

The trucks are outfitted with full kitchens, disco balls, tiger print seats and custom grills. One even boasts a DJ booth. The trucks will be making appearances at music festivals, community events, sporting events and maybe even the homers of celebrities or loyal Caniacs. The vehicles were customized by Cruising Kitchens, a company known for its extravagant food trucks. 

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