Fried Chicken at Himalaya, 6652 Southwest Freeway
If you follow any foodie on social media, then you’ve probably seen one or two posts crowing about “HFC,” or Himalaya Fried Chicken. Owner Kaiser Lashkari hates bland food and so made his own savory, crispy fried chicken. It’s simply fantastic. Lashkari brines his chicken first and includes salt and spices in the brine, including garam masala and ginger. Then, it’s battered and fried. Grab a group of friends and head that way. Family-style dining is the absolute best way to dine at Himalaya. No reservations are needed. Be aware though that the fried chicken isn’t constantly available and may sell out, so do call 713- 532-2837 ahead of time.
Lasagne Carnivale at Vallone’s, 947 Gessner
I adore meals that come with a side order of education and I learned something at Vallone’s this week. I’d never before seen or heard of Lasagne Carnivale (which I also found listed online as “Lasagna di Carnevale”). It’s traditionally served before Ash Wednesday—a last moment to indulge in rich meat and cheese before the Lent and the expectations of restraint kick in. Fortunately, diners don’t have to wait until next year to try this lush, tender pasta dish that includes homemade ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh mozzarella. Vallone’s will make it any time of the year with 24 hours’ notice. It most definitely is worth planning ahead for.
Nigiri Sushi at KUU, 947 Gessner
KUU was named Best of Houston in the Best Sushi category last year and the experience is still just as impressive now as it was then. Chef Adison Lee trained under famous chef Nobu Matsuhisa of the famous Nobu restaurants worldwide. One of his signatures is adding a small accoutrement, such as a tiny dab of infused oil, seaweed or fruit, to the fish to enhance it. Far from overwhelming, it makes the flavors of the fish practically sparkle in the mouth.
Considering the high quality of what Lee and his staff are doing, KUU is still sailing a bit under the radar and sushi aficionados really need to go see what is happening in-person if they have not already. The omakase is the ultimate dining experience at KUU, so call ahead to schedule a seat at the sushi bar. There are many wine and sake pairings to choose from, too, expertly chosen by sommelier Ricky Cheung.
Papas Bravas, Arturo Boada Cuisine, 6510 Del Monte
As I was developing a list of Houston’s Most Underrated Restaurants over this past weekend, I visited some reader recommendations of places that I’d never been to before. One such place was Arturo Boada Cuisine. Boada is a chef with a long history in Houston but I’d never experienced his food before. As I mentioned in the article, what impresses me the most is the Columbian chef’s ability to effortlessly skate from one cuisine to the next, never missing a beat. That’s what experience gets you, folks. Being a fan of dishes on the spicy side, I loved his Papas Bravas, a plentiful amount of Spanish chorizo and potatoes in a sauce infused with chiles and garlic. It’s not that spicy, so you don’t have to be terribly brave to eat this dish.
Fish Tacos at Corner Table, 2736 Virginia
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You don’t have to care a whit about the Paleo Diet to still appreciate these tender tortillas cleverly made of coconut and almond flour. The original chef, Bruce Molzan, developed these, but subsequent chefs struggled with getting them to the right thickness and crispness. New chef Eric Aldis, who is off to a promising start in reinvigorating the menu, has figured out the secret and is producing ones that are tender, beautiful and free of white flour. These are used for the fish tacos. Aldis says they use whatever has come in fresh. Last week, it was amberjack. The tacos are topped with slaw and fresh tomato. On the side, a clever take on refried beans using quinoa seasoned with cumin and cilantro (half the quinoa is pureed for a creamy texture) and Spanish “rice” made with grated cauliflower.
"Big Plate Chicken" at Uyghur Bistro, 9888 Bellaire
We just couldn't get over the amazing confluence of spices and chilies in the "big plate chicken" (phonetically "da pan ji" in Chinese) at Uyghur Bistro. It's testament to the influence of the spice trade on the historic Silk Road that runs through the region. There's an amazing amount of dried and fresh Sichuan peppercorn used to season the dish, as well as garlic. This plate was a "small" and cost $13. It was too much for two people to finish. One can assume a "large" would suit a table of four. If you enjoy the food at Mala Sichuan, you'll enjoy this, too.
That’s it for me this week. What were your favorite dishes of the week? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.