Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Norigami Opens, Kim Son Stafford to Close

Norigami has more than just hand rolls.
Norigami has more than just hand rolls. Photo by Michael Anthony

Norigami and Hidden Bar, 2715 Bissonnet, opened September 21. The concepts come from the Hidden Group, owned by couple Thy and Tuan Tran. The pair also own Hidden Omakase and Sushi by Hidden.

Norigami began as a hand roll pop-up in 2021. The kitchen at the brick and mortar version will be led by executive chef Jimmy Kieu who has created the menu for the new concept. He most recently helped to open Sushi By Hidden and will continue to oversee it as well.
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Norigami seats 24 at its counter.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Norigami's menu will offer some of the favorites from the original pop-up including appetizers such as Salmon Crudo with Asian pear, agua chile and micro celery plus Hamachi Crudo with ponzu, cilantro, truffle and serrano peppers. Fans will also find its Steak and Eggs made with pickled red onions, creamy steak sauce, quail egg, caviar and toast.

Handrolls such as Bluefin Tuna, A5 Wagyu and Uni can be ordered separately or diners can indulge in a set such as the Norigasm with Spicy Scallops, Yellow Tail, Toro, Spicy Salmon and Blue Crab.

Chef Kieu said in a press release, "We are excited to bring the Norigami concept to a permanent location in Houston. After doing pop-ups for a while, now more Houstonians will be able to experience what we have to offer."
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The Paper Crane is made with Angels Envy bourbon, Jamaican rum and bitters, Aperol, Campari and pineapple.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Tucked away behind a speakeasy entrance is the Hidden Bar, a stylish lounge where guests can enjoy a cocktail or a snack while awaiting a table. Origami cranes, which are a sign of prosperity and heaven, dangle magically from the ceiling. Even more magical is an Ace of Spades champagne wall. Bartender Hao Ma stands ready to create specialty cocktails such as the East Side with butterfly pea tea gin or pour glasses of bubbles, wine, hard seltzers or beer. 
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Hidden Bar is chic and alluring.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
The interior was built out by KA Construction and the design of the two spaces was done by Handsome Studios. It's meant to evoke the feel of an evening stroll among the urban landscape of Tokyo with color-pop LEDs lighting the industrial space. The press release says the restrooms are "Instagram-worthy with mesmerizing infinity doors leading into monochromatic space-rooms."

That should be fun after a couple of cocktails.

Kim Son Stafford, 12750 Southwest Freeway, will close permanently September 24. The reason cited was the near doubling of its rent, according to the Houston Chronicle. Part of the family-owned Houston brand of Vietnamese restaurants, the restaurant opened its original location in 1982. It was founded by Kim Su Tran La, affectionately referred to as Mama La, who, with her husband and seven children, fled the Communist regime of Vietnam and arrived in Houston in 1980.

In 1999, the Stafford location opened at The Fountains shopping center. The waterside location and large ballroom made it a popular venue for weddings and family events. Its dim sum also drew in hungry crowds. Though the Stafford location's time will end, Kim Son Bellaire, 10603 Bellaire Boulevard, will begin serving dim sum for lunch October 2. There is also a Kim Son location at 2001 Jefferson.
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Pho Binh by Night served Chef Chris Shepherd's favorite pho.
Photo by John Lam
Pho Binh By Night, 12148 Bellaire Boulevard, will serve its last bowl of bone marrow pho October 1, according to a lengthy and emotional Facebook post. It follows on the heels of the recently announced permanent closure of Pho Binh Trailer on Beamer which had operated since 1983. It was the original Pho Binh and the beginning of the local mini-empire of restaurants owned and operated by extended members of the Nguyen family.

In the post the owners said, "The challenges we have faced in recent times have made it increasingly difficult to continue our journey. It is heart-wrenching to bid farewell to a place that has been our passion and purpose for so long."

The post also expressed gratitude for the patrons and staff plus hope that its loyal customers would support the other four Pho Binh establishments.
The modular build of the Cans makes it easy to drop down.
Photo by Smalls Sliders
Smalls Sliders plans to bring 12 units to Texas with 7 of those in the vicinity of north Houston. The duo behind the Texas expansion of the QSR brand, Preston Cunningham and David Higgins, met while developing units for another popular restaurant brand in Houston. The pair were drawn to the Smalls Sliders model and plan unique designs and construction for each unit.

Founded in 2019 by Brandon Landry, with former pro football NFL quarterback Drew Brees as an initial investor, the cheeseburger slider concept operates out of what the industry calls "Cans", stand-alone modular structures which allow for flexibility and quick construction. The brand currently has 9 locations in Louisiana with more than 80 Cans in development.

The food is cooked to order and the meat is never frozen. There are slider combos and an option to order a double meat and cheese slider called Biggie Smalls. There are waffle fries, milkshakes, soft drinks and customers can add a side of queso or its signature Smauce for dipping.
Detroit-style pizza is making waves and craves.
Photo by Sean Rainer
Gold Tooth Tony's Detroit Pizza, 1901 N. Shepherd, softly opened  September 11. According to its Facebook posts, the new pizza place is getting a lotta love from the community, maybe a little too much. The dine-in capacity is on the small side but the cravings from the public are so enormous that the kitchen has often been selling out. On its first Friday in business it posted "You swarmed us, Houston. We are very SOLD-OUT." It would be wise to call ahead of time as it gets completely up to speed.

The pizza  concept comes from Anthony Calleo, a name many Houstonians remember from his days at the now-shuttered Pi Pizza, which he founded originally as a food truck. After a few years helping to create menus for local restaurants and bars plus serving as executive chef at Rudyard's, Calleo is back on the pie scene with his take on Detroit-style pizza, a slightly thick-crust pizza cooked in a rectangular pan. The cheese reaches to the edges of the crispy crust, requiring lots of napkins or discreet finger licking.

There are pizza options like Margarita, Pepperoni or the Piggy with pancetta, fig, Texas chevre, hot honey and fresh oregano. The Outy5 is topped with venison sausage and port wine cherries. Guests can also go the build-your-own route with a multitude of choices for customizing. Regular toppings include bacon, chicken, fresh basil and charred pineapple while the premium list offers items like olive tapenade, spiced pecans, fig and SPAM. For fancy folks, there are add-ons such as arugula pesto, goat milk feta, fennel pollen and whipped ricotta.

There's also fancy garlic bread for a starter or the Pizza Tots for those not watching their waistline. The Sprouts are a somewhat healthy dish of fried Brussels sprouts, fresh mint, goat's milk feta, honey and fennel pollen. There's also lasagna, mac & cheese and something called Showbiz Queso.  Several sandwiches are available and there's a rotating selection of cookies from Rebecca Masson's Fluff Bake Bar.
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Tenfold Coffee will open a new dedicated roastery.
Photo by Caroline Boyle
Tenfold Coffee, 3302 Garrow, is shooting to open a new location this fall. Located at The Plant in Second Ward, construction is already underway for the 5,000 square-foot roastery. It will join other retail and dining establishments such as the upcoming relocation of Street to Kitchen to the new neighborhood development.

Tenfold currently operates in Houston Heights as a specialty coffee shop and roastery. The expanded footprint will offer the business the ability to pursue new avenues such as specialty cold brew and a large-scale warehouse operation in its own dedicated facility and it already has Eden Plant Co., a dual concept plant store and coffee shop at The Plant, as a client.

The new tenfold will not be public-facing but there are plans to offer a neighborhood subscription service plus educational experiences. It will continue to operate its coffee shop at 101 Aurora.

Barcelona Wine Bar, 1731 Westheimer, is opening soon. We have reached out for a definite date and were told that preparations are still under way. With 19 locations across 10 states, this location will make number 20 for the tapas and wine bar. It has one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the U.S. with a few varietals from other European countries plus wines from South America.

Its food menu offers a large selection of charcuterie and cheese, much of it from Spain. he tapas section of the menu includes roasted eggplant hummus, patatas bravas, sauteed mussels and bouquerones, just to name a few. Larger plates include several paellas and the Parillada Barcelona, a carnivore's dream of NY strip, chicken, pork loin and sausage.

Crumbl Cookies, 2036 Westheimer, is having its grand opening September 22 from 8 a.m. to noon. The cookie concept was founded in Logan, Utah in 2017 by Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley. In the past six years, it has expanded to over 850 locations across the United States along with franchises in Canada and Puerto Rico.

The grand opening week will offer six of the 200-plus rotating flavors with weekly flavors dropping every Sunday at 6 p.m. on the Crumbl Cookies social media. For the first five business days, customers may order in person at the shop. The store will begin delivery, curbside pickup, catering and nationwide shipping beginning September 27.

Dough Zone, 2450 Louisiana, will open October 2, as reported by CultureMap Houston. It will be the first of three Houston area stores planned for the dumpling restaurant which was first founded in 2014 by Jason and Nancy Zhai in Bellevue, Washington. The company currently has dumpling shops in Washington, Oregon and California.

It will take over the space which formerly housed Ibiza. The extensive menu offers three types of soup dumplings with protein choices of chicken, Berkshire Duroc pork and fresh crab. The dumplings are made with aspic that then melts into a savory broth. The bao are similar but are half-steamed, then fried for crispiness.

Appetizers include braised pig ear, five-spice beef shank and spicy beef shank. There are boiled, steamed or fried dumplings plus a variety of noodle dishes like Dan Dan, Yi Bin, and Hot & Sour Glass Noodles. There is a selection of healthy green vegetable sides plus wonton soups and a couple of desserts.
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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.