Variety Abounds at Cafe 121 Chinese Restaurant

"I'm learning as I go," says David Pham of his new restaurant Café 121 Chinese Restaurant (5727 West­heimer). "My parents are involved, but I'm running it." Fortunately, his uncle, who runs the kitchen, does have experience, running out the multitude of dishes on Café 121's menu, which features Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai offerings — and lots of them. "Because we're located close to the Galleria, we are really busy at lunch," says Pham. "We're still working on dinner."

Pham says Café 121 is different from other places. "This is not your typical Chinese restaurant. Our food is not greasy, it's healthy. Also, we use only white meat chicken and we don't use MSG. We have many dishes that very few others have, like our soup dumplings and our mango shrimp."

A visit by the Houston Press found a spotless place that featured a really nice bar along one wall, with diners comfortably seated watching a flat-screen TV; there was also a main dining room with tables and booths, along with some private rooms in the back. The menu is one of the most extensive of any Asian restaurant in the city, and there are many chef's specialties, including the flame-broiled filet mignon chunks, as well as a thoroughly enjoyable basil red snapper.

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Paul Galvani