Restaurant Reviews

Just What the Doctor Ordered

It's that time of year. Your sinuses are stopped up, your taste buds dulled by Robitussin. What you need is soup -- specifically a fire-breathing potage that'll clear your head.

Gumbo isn't quite strong enough, even if you lace it with Tabasco. But if you're in a gumbo mood, try a big bowl of Sopa Tomas at Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen [1962 West Gray, (713)528-3474]. It's a Tex-meets-Mex-meets-"guffcoast" agglomeration, with an aromatic shrimp stock, peppers, onions, tomatoes and rice providing a piquant context for shrimp. Fresh, perfectly ripe avocado pieces blend with chopped cilantro; cayenne pepper and what appears to be a pepper oil mean you can postpone that trip to the ENT specialist one more day.

You might also consider what Thai Pepper [2049 West Alabama, (713)520-8225] calls "milky chicken soup," a variant of the tom kha gai served at any number of Thai restaurants. Like its brethren, Thai Pepper's soup boasts lemongrass, coconut milk and chicken, but its head-clearing wallop sets it apart from its peers. I have been brave enough to order it at the "medium" spice level, which is transfixing. If you have the courage to order it "hot," be sure to designate a driver for the trip home.

Last, Lido [3200 Main, (713)523-9295] offers a little intra-Asian bowl of fusion that still has me buzzing; they lace their classic Chinese hot and sour soup with Vietnamese chili oil then add touches of whimsy such as fresh green peas and sliced elephant-ear mushrooms. It's a bowl of fire and surprises, just the thing to cure what ails you.

-- Gardner Landry

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gardner Landry