King of Clear Lake

888 Bistro (16744 El Camino Real) looks like a giant castle. While it was going up, we wondered what the hell it was, until the protective golden lions planted themselves in the parking lot. Ah, 888 Bistro! We couldn't believe the classy build-out of this rendition of the popular foodie dive. With a location in Dickinson and another in the Gulfgate shopping center around 610 and 45, the owners of 888 Bistro have already established their presence in Houston Asian dining. This new location is in Clear Lake, which seems like an odd spot to put such a beautiful...um, castle.

The food was outstanding, with honey pepper steak and garlic eggplant taking the lead. There are two separate menus, a more Americanized one as well as a Chinese-classics menu that offers some interesting hot pots and a spicy tofu dish that has garnered praise from some Chinese Houstonians. Three options of rice -- steamed, brown or fried -- come standard on the family dining-style menu, but we ordered curry rice, which comes at an additional cost.

Speaking of cost, the price point here is remarkably lower than what we expected from such an elaborately appointed place. A bar separates the lounge area, which is equipped with flat-panel televisions, from the more intimate family dining room. There is also a private dining room available on request. This castle may be in a weird location, but 888 Bistro is king of the lake.

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