Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: MaKiin and Clark's Oyster Bar Open, KP's Kitchen Bellaire Soon

The interior at MaKiin transports guests to the landscapes of Thailand.
The interior at MaKiin transports guests to the landscapes of Thailand. Photo by Sean Ranier

MaKiin, 2651 Kipling, opened October 23 in the Hanover River Oaks. Located on the ground floor of the luxury high-rise, the new Thai restaurant comes from restaurateur Lukkaew Srasrisuwan, who opened Kin Dee in the Heights in 2020 with friend and chef Miranda Loetkhamfu.

The word Makiin means "come to eat," an invitation in Thailand that is viewed as a great honor, one that Srasrisuwan is happy to proffer to Houstonians to celebrate the culture and beauty of Thailand. She said in a press release, "Our carefully curated menu of authentic Thai dishes I feel will really resonate with Houston's diverse clientele while introducing the Bayou City to an entirely new culinary experience."
click to enlarge
The Tenderloin Temptation is aptly named.
Photo by Sean Ranier
And Houston is eagerly lapping up the new Thai restaurants that have been emerging in the past several years. While Thai cuisine's popularity exploded in the 1970s due to the immigration of Thai people to the United States and other countries, the restaurants were often inexpensive places to "grab some pad Thai". Chefs and owners often had to cater to the American palate by holding back on the spice or fish sauce. Nowadays, diners are more adventurous, seeking out authentic fare and allowing chefs to do their thing.

Houston's vibrant culinary scene means that Thai food is becoming more and more a chef-driven cuisine. This past year, Chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter, who owns Street to Kitchen with her husband Graham Painter, won the James Beard Award: Best Chef Texas 2023. Srasrisuwan herself has found an eager clientele with her Thai concept Kin Dee and there are a number of more upscale Thai restaurants around town including Loetkhamfu's own restaurant, Four Region Thai, north of Houston in Spring.  Houston has come along way with Thai fare since the days when the now shuttered Thai Pepper introduced many of us, including this writer, to the cuisine.
click to enlarge
Chef Bell (left) and Chef O (right) pose with owner Lukkaew Srasrisuwan.
Photo by Sean Rainer
Leading the kitchen at MaKiin are two award-winning chefs from Thailand, Eakkapan (O) Ngammuang and Aphassorn (Bell) Predawan. Their menu is a tribute to the royal Thai family recipes across both North and South Thailand, which has influences from Malaysia, India, Indonesia and China. For starters there are dishes such as Tenderloin Temptation and the Duck Garden Oasis made with a lemongrass sous vide duck breast. Entrees include Chef O's Award Winning Chicken and a seafood-stuffed casserole, Majestic Ocean Medley. The Sizzling Northern Adventure is a plate of paper-thin sliced short rib in a Northern-style yellow curry broth with crispy egg noodles, pickled green mustard, red onion, quail egg and chili oil, served on a sizzling hot stone.
click to enlarge
Butterfly pea flower tints a hand-crafted cocktail with a violet hue.
Photo by Sean Ranier
There is a 50-label wine list and 10 hand-crafted specialty cocktails plus a whimsical menu of sweets including the Dessert Wonderland with edible moss, a chocolate tree and fluffy cotton candy.

Guests will also find a beautiful interior, designed by Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group. Hand-painted and 3D murals depict scenes from Thailand while the decor takes inspiration from ornate Thai temples and bustling Thai night markets. Gold is everywhere, complemented by jewel-toned fabrics and custom bronze mesh curtains giving the space an opulent, yet cozy feel.
click to enlarge
Clark's Oyster bar is a new neighbor in Montrose.
Photo by Justin Cook/Clark's Oyster Bar

Clark's Oyster Bar, 3807 Montrose Boulevard, officially opened October 23. It's the third location for the brand and the largest. The concept from MML Hospitality first opened in Austin in the historic Clarksville neighborhood in 2012. Located in a former gas station, it became a hot spot for raw oysters and fresh seafood. It opened a second restaurant in Aspen, Colorado in 2018. Now the brand has brought its coastal American classics to Houston's bustling Montrose neighborhood.
click to enlarge
At Clark's, diners can tour America's best seafood dishes.
Photo by Justin Cook
Such classics range from a daily selection of East and West Coast oysters to San Francisco-inspired cioppino or New England chowder. There's a menu of crudo, daily fish specials and lobster rolls as well. For those looking to impress a date or just dine on a tower of seafood, the Plateau de Fruits de Mer can be had for $160.

With its Houston location, Clark's will serve Gulf Coast-sourced seafood  along with seasonal fish. Landlubbers will be happy with items such as the Pan Roasted Black Angus Hamburger which gets a posh addition of sauce gribiche and gruyere. According to the press release, the shoestring fries are much talked about. We'll have to try that for ourselves. The in-house bakery produces all of the breads for the restaurant including the famous Clark's Sourdough.
click to enlarge
The patio will make guests feel as if they are on the deck of an ocean liner.
Photo by Justin Cook/Clark's Oyster Bar
The 'bar' part of its name includes a cocktail menu of spritzers, martinis and signature drinks, as well as a small wine list and a few beers. The spirits on offer make a pretty lengthy list, especially for fans of agave.

Similar to its sister locations, Clark's Houston will have a similar layout with the design offering a nautical feel with yellow and white striped awning, painted shiplap and a marble-topped oyster bar. In addition to the bright and airy interior with its centerpiece aquarium, there is a comfortable outdoor patio that can accommodate 90 guests. There is also a 10-person private dining room.
From sandwiches to steak frites, KP's has delicious bistro fare.
Photo by KP's Kitchen
KP's Kitchen, 5427 Bissonnet, is coming to Bellaire soon, with a hopeful shot at opening in December. This is the second location for chef/owner Kerry Paul's American bistro. The first location opened in Memorial in 2021 and has since been nominated for several awards as well as being recognized as Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat in Texas 2023.

Its signature KP Burger gets a lot of love from locals especially on days when the $16 burger is offered for $12. There are other sandwiches as well including Not Your Daddy's Country Club and the Hot Chicken Sandwich plus a selection of fresh salads. The elevated bistro fare also includes entrees such as 12 Hour Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Redfish, Roasted Rosemary-Lemon Chicken and Filet Mignon, served with chimichurri sauce and parmesan broccoli. KP's also offers daily specials like Kids Eat Free Tuesday and Thursday Steak Night.
KP's Kitchen is bringing its wine dinners to Bellaire soon.
Photo by KP's Kitchen
The expansion into Bellaire will be a 3,800 square-foot restaurant with a spacious bar, party room and both a front and side patio. Like the original, it will have an approachable wine list, signature cocktails and craft beers.

Pauly's first experience of the restaurant industry began as a child when his father, Fred Pauly owned and operated businesses like Blue Ribbon Meat Packing Company and Club Metropol. The younger Pauly, known to many as KP, went on to cut his teeth at Houston eateries such as Benjy's and Local Foods, working under restaurateur Benjy Levit's direction.
click to enlarge
The Key Lime Pie is definitely crave-able and crushable.
Photo by Michael Bishop
Crave Fusion Bistro & Cocktails, 11702 Grant, softly opened October 20 with a grand opening planned for October 28 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There will also be a ribbon-cutting November 2 beginning at 11 a.m.
Located in a residential shopping center, the new concept is from co-owners Isaac Bradley and Bridgett Willliams with executive chef Leon Cedillo at the kitchen helm. Cedillo is also a co-owner at Roots Cafe DCH.

The menu is a global one, drawing much of its inspiration from the rich traditions and flavors of the African American, South American and Asian diaspora. Other world cuisines get blended in as well with a diversity that stems from the owners' travels and culinary discoveries. The mission is not only to share the passion for great cuisine but to also unite people people with the power of food.
Crave Fusion is open in the 'burbs.
Photo by Michael Bishop
The Shareable Beginnings start with Sweet Thai Chili Shrimp, Asian Lettuce Wrap and Crab Cakes. The Signature Table Shareables is a platter of wings, shrimp Creole, empanadas and crispy fries. Chicken & Sausage Gumbo is a fall worthy soup while several salad choices offer veg-centric fare. There are Korean Spiced Wings, Memphis Wings, and Hand Crafted Egg Rolls for noshing plus Savory Crawfish Empanadas served with Cajun cilantro aioli.
click to enlarge
Shrimp and grits is a Southern Favorite at Crave.
Photo by Michael Bishop
The selection of sandwiches includes an Angus Cheeseburger, Hot Memphis Chicken Sandwich and (be-still-our-beating-hearts) a Braised Oxtail Melt. The Southern Favorites section of the menu has dishes like Fried Catfish & Grits and Oxtail & Risotto while From the Grill offers a variety of proteins including Jamaican Jerk Chicken Breast, Herb Butter Shrimp, Garlic Herb Lamb Chops and several steak and lobster options.

There's a list of signature cocktails along with wine and beer. The three-day weekend brunch runs Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
click to enlarge
The fresh catch often ended up in soups as well as tacos.
Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Fish Company Taco, 1914 23rd, closed its doors October 25, according to its Facebook post. Quoting Robert Frost's famous poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay",  the post cited "the financial and emotional strain caused by so many factors; ongoing construction, the increase in costs to operate, etc."

The Gulf seafood restaurant in Galveston, Texas first opened June 19, 2018, the birthday of the son of owners Daya Myers-Hurt and her wife Laura Myers-Hurt, as reported by Texas Monthly in a September 2023 article.  The family had previously lost everything in Hurricane Harvey while Daya Myers-Hurt was working as a pastry chef at State of Grace. Years before, the couple had operated the Lunchbox Cafe in Galveston before closing the sandwich shop in 2013 and returning to Houston.

Known for using fresh, Gulf seafood including the occasional bycatch specimens, the five-taco menu was dependent on availability of fish. The same fresh approach was used for the tortillas which were made from Masienda's heirloom Mexican corn masa harina.
click to enlarge
Black Walnut has a new look and an expanded menu.
Photo by Perrin Projects/Aker Imaging
Black Walnut Kitchen and Bar, 5510 Morningside, reopened October 9 in Rice Village. Previously known for 18 years as Black Walnut Cafe, it closed temporarily July 12 this past summer for renovations and new furnishings. The refresh was led by the Perrin Group and Moon Commercial Construction and is just the first of nine locations that will rebrand in the future.

Woodlands Hospitality Group president Eric Lysaker is very excited to turn a new page with the updates and chef-driven menu. He said, "With extensive dinner entrees offered daily, a full bar menu and weekday happy hour, we offer an elevated dining experience that goes well beyond brunch."
click to enlarge
Whether it's brunch, happy hour or any time of day, Black Walnut has refreshing cocktails.
Photo by Julie Soefer
And that elevated menu comes from none other than executive chef for WHG, Austin Simmons. Known for his culinary expertise at both TRIS and The Kitchen in The Woodlands, he also oversees the Black Walnut concepts in Houston and Dallas.

The Rice Village menu offers new items not found at the other Houston-area locations yet like Lobster Truffle Pasta, Beef & Lamb Bolognese and Gumbo Ya-Ya, a mix of shrimp, andouille sausage, Southwest chicken, basmati rice and okra.
click to enlarge
The Gumbo Ya-Ya will make you go yay-yay.
Photo by Black Walnut Kitchen and Bar
Black Walnut Rice Village is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily along with a weekend brunch from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with $8 signature cocktails and burgers, wings and tacos starting at $6.

The outdoor patio has been widened, in time for the cooler weather.
click to enlarge
Famous or not, this prime dip looks damn tasty.
Photo by Karyn Locke
Tom's Watch Bar, 1201 Caroline, will have its grand opening October 29 starting at 11 a.m. at Greenstreet in downtown Houston. It's the first Texas location for the sports bar brand which promises "All the Sports, All the Time." With its central over-sized "stadium" screen and hundreds of surrounding high def screens, it delivers a 360 degree viewing and allows guests to immerse themselves in the world of game viewing.

It has a calendar of watch parties for special events and local teams. President and COO of Tom's Watch Bar is also a native Texan and is thrilled to be opening a location in Houston. He said, "Our goal is to create a unique experience for hyper-sports enthusiasts. We can't wait to open our doors and contribute to the excitement in Houston."

All of those hyper-sports enthusiasts need refreshment as well and Tom's Watch Bar offers dozens of taps with domestic, imported, craft and local microbrews. Hale and hearty customers can even enjoy their tapped tipple from its signature two-handled 40-ounce steins. There is a wine list, too, along with an array of signature cocktails.

Game watching can make a person stress eat and Tom's has plenty of snacks and dishes to fill that need. Deep Dish Nachos, Pan Seared Potstickers and Crispy Dill Pickles are just a few of the starters and there's a selection of five different wings as well. The Tom's Famous Prime Dip is, well, famous and there are a number of other burger, taco and sandwich choices to indulge in. Those who like chicken and waffles might want to try Tom's Crispy Chicken and Cornbread Pancake for a similar flavor combination.

The grand opening is just in time for the Houston Rockets home opener against the Golden State Warriors. We will just forget about this week's season opener against Orlando, like a bad dream.

Nonno's Pizza, 1613 Richmond, began its grand opening celebration October 24. Though the pizza concept from owners Sara and Martin Stayer of Nobie's opened softly in August 2023 it is celebrating its grand opening with a week-long party that runs through October 29, so there are three days left to enjoy the specials. There will be half-off pasta October 27, half-off desserts October 28 and happy hour all day October 29.
click to enlarge
Chef Ivan Rodriguez takes on a new role.
Photo by Audrey Carni
Back Table Kitchen & Bar, 2301 N. Millbend, has a new chef de cuisine. Chef Ivan Rodriguez, who most recently served as executive sous chef at Sorriso, is moving to Back Table and he's already putting his stamp on the menu.

Some Houstonians may remember Rodriguez from his days operating his food truck business, Mr Porco HTX. Prior to that, he served as The Woodlands Resort banquet sous chef and sous chef for True Food Kitchen. Other culinary gigs include Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen and Allo French Rotisserie. He began his career at Tomball's The Original Rib Tickler in 2004. In 2010, he received his Elite Diplome de Cuisine from Culinary Institute Le Notre in Houston.
click to enlarge
Lobster Mac and Cajun Shrimp and Crab Pasta are our kind of comfort food.
Photo by Leah Wilson
Some of the new menu items like Fried Green Tomatoes with lobster, chives, poblano crema and avocado. There's also the Texas Corn Chowder and Smothered Cowboy Ribeye. seafood indulgences include Baked Lobster Mac and Grilled Salmon with hot honey glaze and cilantro pesto. Desserts like Sweet Corn Tres Leches and Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding give a little twist to classic sweets.

Albi, 1947 W. Gray, began its lunch service this week. Located in the River oaks Shopping Center, the Middle Eastern restaurant first opened back in May. Lunch will be served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There will be a variety of hot and cold mezzas, seasonal pita sandwiches and main entrees available. Guests can begin the mid-day meal with starters such as Scallop Crudo Bluefin Tuna Tartar and Arak Scented Mussels. Salads like the Albi Fattouch and Summer Melon are just a couple of the fresh and light options while pita sandwiches like Chicken Shawarma, Braised Lamb Shank and King Trumpet Mushroom make a tasty lunch. There are also entrees such as Jolly Farms Chicken, Dover Sole and Grilled Tenderloin. 
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.
Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.