Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Rumi's Kitchen Debuts Soon, Dumpling Haus Closes

The Pomegranate Short Rib is a feast for the eyes as well as the table.
The Pomegranate Short Rib is a feast for the eyes as well as the table. Photo by Rumi's Kitchen
Rumi's Kitchen, 1801 Post Oak Boulevard, will open October 16 in Uptown Houston. The Atlanta-based Persian restaurant, which currently operates three locations in the Georgia capital, most recently debuted in the nation's capital,  Washington D.C., in August 2020 in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Rumi's will join Hai Hospitality's acclaimed sushi spot, Uchiko, as well as Zadok Jewelers and Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in the upscale Post Oak Place development.

Chef and co-owner Ali Mesghali, founded Rumi's Kitchen in 2006 after helping to open Persian restaurants such as Persepolis in 2000. Though he is no longer involved in Persepolis, Mesghali was on the forefront of bringing Persian fare to the Atlanta area. He now co-owns the Rumi's concept with Stephen Kaplan.
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Co-owners Stephen Kaplan and Ali Mesghali are thrilled to bring Rumi's to Houston.
Photo by Rumi's Kitchen
Mesghali was born in Esfahan, Iran and moved to Los Angeles as a young boy. Working in Persian restaurants there as a teenager, he found a love for cooking and relocated to Atlanta in 1991. After opening Rumi's original location, he soon partnered with Kaplan to turn the culinary venture into a thriving restaurant group. With ancient traditional Persian cooking methods, Mesghali's menu reflects the rich culinary heritage of Iranian cuisine.

Some of the highlights include items on the 'Taste' part of the menu including the traditional Kibbeh Nayyeh, made with lamb and bulgar tartare and mixed with aromatic spices and egg yolk. Other starters like Labne Charred Tomato and Rumi's Wings with spicy lemon saffron get the taste buds going. There are also several hummus preparations, charmoula eggplant and live-fire grilled vegetables.
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Rumi's Kitchen is bringing upscale Persian cuisine to Post Oak.
Photo by Rumi's Kitchen
The 'Feast' side of the menu offers American Wagyu Zabuton Kabob, an elevated twist on the classic skewered dish with an urfa chili spice rub and grilled shishito peppers. There's also Duck Fesenjoon which is braised duck served with pomegranate walnut stew and crispy potato tahdeeg, traditional potato and rice dish often spelled as tahdig. There's also a 'For the Table' meal of Pomegranate Short Rib that serves three to four people.

A global wine list offers varietals from both Old World and New, along with a small list of Lebanese and Israeli wines. Cocktails take advantage of Persian ingredients and guests will find creative and inventive drinks.
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The bar area is chic and stylish.
Photo by Rumi's Kitchen
The 5,500 square-foot restaurant was designed by The Johnson Studio, seating 170 guests in a dining room and bar meant to evoke the warmth of a Persian home. An open kitchen anchors the space, with a traditional turquoise tile backdrop, while natural light fills the room through the large windows. Fifteen light fixtures hang from the soaring ceiling, meant to symbolize the whirling skirts of dervishes.

Marcoza Trattoria, 8540 Creekside Forest, is now open in The Woodlands. The concept is a rebranding of Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar from the local and family-owned Orioli Restaurant Group. Taking cues from the customers at the former Avanti, the new menu focuses on rustic Italian cuisine, trattoria-style. It also features a number of coastal seafood dishes, covering a number of regions across Italy.

For dinner, guests will find a starters menu of charcuterie, fritto misto, grilled octopus and smoked burrata. There's a small selection of crudos as well. The pasta offerings include  traditional favorites like Carbonara, Bolognese and Wild Boar Ragu as well as seafood pastas such as Spaghetti and Clams, Octopus Corzetti and Sea Urchin with squid ink pasta. Entrees run the gamut from grilled salmon and branzino to beef short rib and filet mignon.

There is a weekday lunch menu of panini and entree salads plus a weekday happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The weekend brunch menu is available Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a curated wine list as well as craft beers and cocktails.

Co-owner Enrique Orioli said of the rebranding, "The change to Marcoza Trattoria represents our commitment to enhancing the dining experience by offering flavors which cater to our customers' tastes...Our family-owned restaurant seeks to transport you to an elegant but unpretentious trattoria in Italy with every bite."
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The tasty dumplings, rice bowls and noodles will no longer be available at Saywer Yards.
Photo by Amiley Lai
Dumpling Haus, 2313 Edwards, had its last day of service September 24. The announcement was made via its social media in which the post said, "The last almost 4 years at this location have been a roller coaster ride starting off with a global pandemic and ending with the hottest recorded summer in our city's history, but we have enjoyed serving you delicious handmade dumplings here in Sawyer Yards." The post also said that the owners will continue to do pop-ups and markets around the city with plans for more events and new dishes in the future.

It first opened in January 2020 just a couple of months before the COVID pandemic shutdown. Owner Elaine Won and her daughters Ashley and Amiley Lai had operated it as a food stand at Urban Harvest and a food truck at Axelrad before opening the brick and mortar. During the pandemic, the trio created family packs to-go and frozen packs of the homemade dumplings and wontons to survive during the pandemic dining restrictions.

Dumpling Haus will still be offering its products (and its dumplings) at Urban Harvest Farmers Market and Henderson & Kane, according to chron.com.

Texas Zeus Cafe, 13323 Jones, opened September 28. The restaurant and hookah bar serves plates such as Grilled Chicken Shawarma, Smoked Half Chicken and Spicy Chicken Tenders plus sandwiches including a Falafel Wrap, Basic Burger, Spicy Chicken Shawarma Wrap and the Fireball Burger. There are a couple of burrito options, chicken nuggets and sides of hummus, fries  and Greek dolmas.

There's an extensive beverage menu with hot and cold coffee drinks, boba teas, milkshakes and fruity non-alcoholic mojitos. Desserts include Zeus Rice Pudding, waffles with ice cream and tres leches or chocolate mousse cake.

For hookah aficionados, there are several flavors including Zeus (citrus, mint and spices), Adam & Eve (green & red apple) and 69 (melon, mango and berry).

888 Chinese Restaurant, 5250 FM 2920, opened softly September 15 in Spring at Gosling Plaza. There are six other Greater Houston locations of the Cantonese bistro which has a good-sized menu of appetizers such as egg rolls, cheese puffs, seaweed salad and dumplings plus lo mein and fried rice dishes. There are also sizzling platters and a clay pot of chicken and jumbo shrimp coconut curry. Szechuan items include Ox Tongue & Tripe with chili peanut vinaigrette, Smoked Duck and Szechuan Style Sliced Fish. There are also lunch specials like General Tso's Chicken, Orange Chicken and Hunan Style Beef.

Randevou Taste of Persia
, 2691 Wilcrest, opened the first week of August. The Persian restaurant offers appetizers such as hummus, Randevou Spicy Wings and a fragrant eggplant dip called kashke bademjan. There is lentil soup as well as several salads. Stew dishes include ghormeh sabzi, a stew of kidney beans and beef with rice and gheymeh bademjan, made with yellow split pea, dried limes, beef and eggplant.

There is an array of Persian chicken, beef or lamb dishes which are served with rice and tahdig. The Family Platter offers a family-style sampling of items and serves six.

Japanese Ramen Gachi, 2268 W. Holcombe Boulevard, opened softly August 31 and is still in its extended soft opening mode. Located in the shopping center at Holcombe and Greenbriar, the new ramen shop offers many of the pork favorites noodle-slurpers love like Tonkatsu Original, Tonkatsu Gachi and Tonkatsu Spicy along with chicken-based ramen such as the Chicken Original, Chicken Gachi and Chicken Spicy for a pork-free option. Vegans and vegetarians have a couple of choices including Vegan Miso Gachi and Vegan Miso Spicy.
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Sunday Funday gets a Japanese-Peruvian flair at Pacha Nikkei.
Photo by Marco Torres
Pacha Nikkei, 10001 Westheimer, has launched its Sunday happy hour complete with drinks specials and live music. From 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. the restaurant will have $2 East Coast oysters and specials on Nikkei Bloody Marys($7), flavored mimosas ($7) and house wine ($8). There are several beers on happy hour including Sapporo ($5) and a Peruvian brew, Cusquena ($5). Cocktail specials range from $8 to $9. House sake is $6.

Chef and co-owner Masaru Fukuda has created a menu of happy hour bites such as Gyoza Frita with tonkatsu sauce ($8), Chicken Skewers ($9) and Pulpoyaki ($7). There are several maki options on Sunday for $10.

All of these delightful deals can be enjoyed while listening to the Latin beats of El Combito de Calle Swing.
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Pink is on trend in case you hadn't noticed.
Photo by Julie Nong/Scurfield Group
Tacos A Go Go has a new taco this month and it's pretty in pink. Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the restaurant has partnered with a local non-profit, to create a taco that not only tastes good, but does good. All proceeds from the TaTa Taco will benefit The Rose which provides high-quality breast healthcare to all women regardless of ability to pay. Led by fellowship-trained physicians, it offers advanced digital technology as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.

The TaTa Taco is made with a pink corn tortilla made with beet juice for a stunning color. It's filled with shredded chicken, julienne carrots and jicama, pickled onions and radish with a cilantro garnish. It's then drizzled with xoconostle cactus fruit sauce. It retails for $3.99 at all five Houston area locations. 
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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.