Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Yi Peng Thai, Masraff's Open, Good Dog Montrose Will Close

Yi Peng has traditional dishes such as Pad Si Ew.
Yi Peng has traditional dishes such as Pad Si Ew. Photo by Liz Jiratantasin

Yi Peng Thai Dining, 798 Sorella Court, opened at CityCentre October 28. Located next to Fellini Café, this is the first location in the United States for the upscale Thai eatery, owned by CPF and led by of Junnajet “Jett” and Jira Hurapan. Named after the annual sky lantern festival held to celebrate the full moon in Chiang Mai, Yi Peng blends Thai culture and cuisine with healthy and seasonal ingredients reflected in its extensive menu.

Dishes like Pu Krob, a crispy soft-shell crab with Thai herbs and jungle chili glaze and Kang Hung Lay, Northern-style braised curry beef short ribs, offer diners authentic Thai cuisine with a modern approach. There's also Pad Thua Himmapan (cashew chicken) and  Pad Si-ew, wok stir-fried beef tenderloin. Other starters and main dishes include the Nuea Sawan, made with beef and sriracha sauce and a choice of adding a fried egg plus Tom Kha Gai, a traditional coconut chicken galangal soup with kaffir lime and enoki mushroom.

Yi Peng’s beverage menu is inspired by its traditional food menu and features signature spirits like the High Thai and Captain Coco. There's also a selection of Thai beer and Asian drafts along with other import and domestic brews and a limited wine selection. The Yi Peng festival inspires the decor of the space. Guests will immediately notice the fluorescent wall murals painted over exposed brick by local artist Alex Rosmon as they enter the restaurant. Bright lanterns hang from the vaulted ceilings in keeping with the Yi Peng theme. There is a second level above the main dining room providing additional seating for private dinners or gatherings and a chef’s table facing the kitchen which seats ten guests.

click to enlarge Yi Peng's chef's table offers a colorful and pretty setting. - PHOTO BY CHAD CHENIER
Yi Peng's chef's table offers a colorful and pretty setting.
Photo by Chad Chenier
The restaurant’s executive chef, Jett Hurapan began working in the kitchen at the age of 14 and has been exploring the culinary world since then, perfecting his craft in a variety of cuisines. His wife Jira will serve as the chef de cuisine. She came to study in New York and worked with Jett, discovering a passion for baking and her now husband, Jett. Jira also studied baking at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, worked as a pastry chef at various restaurants and has trained in the tradition of Thai cooking in Thailand under Professor Srisamorn Kongpun.

click to enlarge The mezzanine at Yi Peng offers private dining. - PHOTO BY CHAD CHENIER
The mezzanine at Yi Peng offers private dining.
Photo by Chad Chenier
" We are so thrilled to open our Yi Peng Thai Dining’s first location at CityCentre," said Jett Hurapan. "Boasting one of the most diverse populations of citizens in the country, Houston continues to be a breeding ground for the ever-growing culinary scene, so we look forward to offering an unparalleled dining experience to the community and visitors alike."

click to enlarge Jonathan Levine has big plans for 2021. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Jonathan Levine has big plans for 2021.
Photo by Julie Soefer

Jonathan's The Rub BYOB, 9061 Gaylord, is planning to relocate by the end of April 2021 to the former Peli Peli Kitchen space at 9090 Katy Freeway. The new name will be Jonathan's The Rub at Campbell Place. The Original JTR BYOB will remain open in Hedwig Village until the new location debuts.

The Original Jonathan's The Rub opened in 2008, founded by chef/owner Jonathan Levine. Its Italian specialties, steaks and seafood will still be on offer at the new restaurant but the menu will also expand to include a wider selection of salads, healthy bowls and soups. There will be an express lunch menu plus family meals available for pickup or delivery. In addition, Levine is adding a Southern Fried Chicken which has been brined for 48 hours and more homemade desserts like Deep Dish Apple Pie, Peach Cobbler and Bourbon Pecan Pie. The new location will still offer curbside pickup, online ordering and delivery.

Jonathan's The Rub BYOB is  relocating next spring. - PHOTO BY PAULA MURPHY
Jonathan's The Rub BYOB is relocating next spring.
Photo by Paula Murphy
The Campbell Place location will occupy a corner spot at Gateway at Spring Valley, an office building, that will more than double the space available at the current Gaylord space. The 4,000 square feet restaurant will have pine accents and exposed brick, more seating and more parking. There will also be a newly installed UV-C air purifying system that helps to clear the air of harmful bacteria and viruses. Besides the extra indoor seating, there will be an expansive outdoor area with climate controls and lush greenery for shade.

The new restaurant will no longer be BYOB, a change some may rumble about. However, there will be a full bar with classic and signature cocktails plus an extended wine and beer list.

The relocation does not affect operations at Jonathan's The Rub Memorial Green where daughter Jessica Levine is general manager. Son Sam Levine will take on the role of general manager at the Campbell place restaurant, keeping it all in the family.

click to enlarge Brisket takes grilled cheese to a whole new level. - PHOTO BY REBECCA WRIGHT
Brisket takes grilled cheese to a whole new level.
Photo by Rebecca Wright

Twisted Grilled Cheese, 5555 Washington, will open its first brick and mortar November 21. Its well-known food trucks will still remain at Power Center Food Truck Park, Galleria Food Truck Park and Foodie Trucks Park in Katy but the owner Ahmad Fobbs, who only began operating the food trucks in 2019, has set down a permanent location in the Washington corridor that will be operated by Erinne Wilrich and Paige Palmer.

click to enlarge Paige Palmer and Erinne Willrich are running the new brick and mortar. - PHOTO BY REBECCA WRIGHT
Paige Palmer and Erinne Willrich are running the new brick and mortar.
Photo by Rebecca Wright
Fans of the sandwiches will find their favorites such as The Smokehouse Brisket, Five Cheese Pepperoni, The Halal Philly and The Buffalo Chicken along with some new items like The Avocado BLT&E, The Tarragon Lobster and The Smoked Salmon. There are also three new vegetarian choices: The Truffle Mushroom, The Spinach and Artichoke and The Eggplant Parmesan. There is also a gluten-free bread option for the sandwiches.

There is an expanded list of sides, desserts and drinks. Expect a Loaded Fries menu offering yummy options like The Brisket Fries and The Halal Steak Fries. Truffle Onion Rings, Parmesan Waffle Fries and Kettle Potato Chips are tasty accompaniments as is the Tomato Basil Soup, a grilled cheese sandwich's best friend. Decadent desserts such as Cheesecake Donut Holes and The Nutella Dessert Sandwich are just a few of the sweet treats available.

click to enlarge Twisted Grilled Cheese has a fun outdoor patio. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
Twisted Grilled Cheese has a fun outdoor patio.
Photo by Becca Wright
Twisted Grilled Cheese will also offer adult beverages and cocktails like Twisted Sweet Texas Tea and a Creamsicle Martini in a lively, vibrant space designed by Gin Design Group, featuring Houston-inspired murals by local artist Armando. There is also outdoor dining space available.

Good Dog still has chili dogs in the Heights. - PHOTO BY BROOKE VIGGIANO
Good Dog still has chili dogs in the Heights.
Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Good Dog, 1312 W. Alabama, will close its Montrose location November 22. Its owners, Amalia Pferd and Danny Caballero said that the rent is impossible to maintain due to the pandemic, as reported by Houstonia. Caballero said that they tried everything to keep the Alabama location open. "Unfortunately, with the amount of uncertainty these days and our current rent rates, we're not in a position financially to renew our lease, " Caballero said.

It's another loss for The Montrose, on the heels of the announcement that the "Disco Kroger" at 3300 Montrose will be closing in January 2020, as Jeff Balke reported here in the Houston Press.

Fortunately, its food truck and location at 903 Studewood will remain open. The Heights restaurant will continue to also operate as a small bodega which it began doing early on in the pandemic. The owners are launching a brunch menu soon.

Politan Row, 2445 Times Boulevard, announced on its Facebook page that it has shuttered permanently. The November 17 post was made after the food hall posted about closing for November 6 due to unforeseen circumstances. A couple of subsequent posts were made about reopening but that did not happen.

The Rice Village food hall first opened November 8, 2019. Unfortunately, a few months later, the coronavirus pandemic hit, leaving many restaurants and bars scrambling for survival. The pandemic has hit food halls, which rely on crowds and foot traffic, particularly hard.

As far as its vendors go, many of them are already pursuing new ventures, as reported by CultureMap Houston.
Chef Evelyn Garcia who operated Kin by Chef Evelyn at Politan Row has been busy selling her condiments and food products at the 11th Street Market at A 2nd Cup in the Heights and Local Foods. She has also been doing virtual cooking classes. Garcia most recently did a brief chef-in-residency at The Sentinel Marfa, a lounge all the way in Marfa, Texas, according to Kin's Facebook page.

click to enlarge The Lounge at MARCH is artful and cozy.. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
The Lounge at MARCH is artful and cozy..
Photo by Julie Soefer
The Lounge at MARCH, 1624 Westheimer, opened its doors November 19. The restaurant itself, MARCH, was slated to open in early 2020 but that little thing called the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the course for the upscale fine-dining restaurant from Goodnight Hospitality. For now, The Lounge will operate as a prelude to the restaurant through January 9.

The cuisine at MARCH reflects the culinary view of Goodnight Hospitality Chef/Partner Felipe Riccio whose  upbringing in Mexico with an Italian father and a Spanish mother has led to an open mind in exploring different global cuisines. The Lounge's menu focuses on The Levant, or the coastal Eastern Mediterranean countries which include Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Cyprus, Palestine and Jordan.

For now, guests can purchase a $48 ticketed reservation on Resy which includes a half glass of Champagne, a beverage from The Lounge's signature cocktail menu, and some savory and sweet bites like harissa mille-feuille and carrot basbousa. Additional items are available for purchase such as the Harvest, Pasture or Tide sets. Each set includes four items inspired by The Levant. There are also several caviar services for those who have not been affected by the current economic climate.

The Lounge is an intimate space with seating for only 16 guests making reservations necessary. The MARCH private dining room is currently available for small, private holiday dinners.

Masraff's, 9566 Katy Freeway, opened in its new location November 12. It closed its Post Oak location in April 2020 after its lease expired as we reported here in the Press. The restaurant from father and son duo Tony and Russell Masraff operated at the Galleria location for nearly a decade.

Its menu is one of fine dining classics from foie gras and Muscovy Duck Breast to Filet Mignon and Caramelized Diver Scallops. Starters include Burrata Salad and Garlic-Seared Calamari plus entree salads and seafood dishes such as Morel Crusted Sea Bass. There are several pasta options like Rock Shrimp Ravioli or Seafood Linguine plus desserts such as Butter Roasted Pear Creme Brulee and Warm Butterscotch Bread Pudding.

Besides craft cocktails, the restaurant has an extensive wine list which has garnered accolades such as Best Award for Excellence from Wine Spectator. The list contains Old and New World varietals with many mid-range bottles cost-wise., though there are plenty high-dollar vintages for big spenders.

click to enlarge Farmer's Plates at Dish Society. - PHOTO BY DRAGANA HARRIS
Farmer's Plates at Dish Society.
Photo by Dragana Harris
Dish Society, 2643 Commercial Center Boulevard, will be the new spot for the current Katy Dish Society when it leaves its location at 23501 Cinco Ranch Boulevard. The relocation is set for February 2021.

The new space, less than 500 feet away from the current restaurant, will double the seating for the farm to table restaurant which has five locations around Houston with a sixth planned at Southside Commons, a retail and office complex located at 4191 Bellaire Boulevard where Palace Bowling Lanes stood for many years. That location is slated to open in mid-December.

The new Katy spot will also take much of its new design from the upcoming Southside Commons build-out with new furnishings, tile and design elements. It will have a 20-seat full service bar and a 60-seat partially covered patio with space heaters facing Central Park Green. It will also have two dedicated parking spaces for contactless curbside pick up.

Dish Society offers counter service for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch and table service for social hour and dinner.

click to enlarge An upscale date purveyor is coming to CityCentre. - RENDERING BY KINNERSLEY KENT DESIGN
An upscale date purveyor is coming to CityCentre.
Rendering by Kinnersley Kent Design

Bateel USA, 800 Town and Country Boulevard, opens this November at CityCentre. This is the second brick and mortar store for the gourmet foods purveyor which specializes in organic and natural dates, including seven varieties of plain dates and 19 stuffed date offerings, filled with caramelized nuts or candied fruits. It also sells chocolates, Umbrian olive oil, date balsamic vinegar, acacia and lemon blossom honey and beautifully packaged gift boxes.

click to enlarge Chicken and Orzo Soup is a new fall dish at Radio Milano. - PHOTO BY JAMAL MAZHAR
Chicken and Orzo Soup is a new fall dish at Radio Milano.
Photo by Jamal Mazhar
Radio Milano, 800 Sorella Court, reopened November 16 with a new concept and menu. Located at The Moran at CityCentre, a contemporary stylish hotel, the former Italian restaurant has taken its menu in a more Mediterranean direction with starters such as Spanikopita Spinach Dip and Greco Wings. There are also constructed salads such as The Village Cobb and soups like the Chicken and Orzo.  Entrees like the Mediterranean Seafood Stew and Grilled Cauliflower Steak and casual offerings like My Fat Greek Burger Shawarma Wraps give diners a bounty of choice.

Its Make It Your Own Lunch specials offer guests the option of selecting a base such as pita, basmati rice or mixed greens and topping it with a choice of lamb and beef gyro, lemon and oregano chicken, slow-cooked beef shawarma or roasted cauliflower. Guests also have a variety of toppings to chooses from and savory sauces. The beverage menu offers Mediterranean-inspired cocktails and spritzes plus a curated wine list.

click to enlarge The Village Cobb Salad  offers some healthy vegetables. - PHOTO BY JAMAL MAZHAR
The Village Cobb Salad offers some healthy vegetables.
Photo by Jamal Mazhar
Jerome Strack, general manager of The Moran CityCentre said in a press release, "We are continuously looking for ways to evolve our offerings as dining trends and the needs of our loyal guests change. To address those needs, we saw this as an opportunity to reinvigorate the concept behind Radio Milano by creating a different offering in the market with high-flavored menu additions, quality improvements and lower prices that will keep our guests engaged and coming back for more."

click to enlarge Let the bao come to you. - PHOTO BY CHRISTINA SLATON
Let the bao come to you.
Photo by Christina Slaton
Wow Bao has expanded its delivery to the Katy area. The Chicago-based company operates a number of "dark kitchens" around the country and Texas. Customers can order through DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub and Postmates. It offers a variety of steamed bao including Teriyaki Chicken, BBQ Berkshire Pork, Spicy Mongolian Beef and Whole Wheat Vegetable. There are potstickers such as Ginger Chicken and Green Vegetable plus rice bowls including Spicy Kung Pao, Teriyaki and Orange Chicken.

The Sugar Shop, 215 5th Street, has closed after the death of its owner, Nathan Maynor, from COVID. The 58-year-old was first diagnosed back in October, according to the Houston Chronicle. He had battled the disease for several weeks and a GoFundMe page had been set up to help pay the bakery's rent while he was hospitalized. Now, the funds, over $15,000, will be used for his medical and final expenses.

In a Facebook post, Maynor's husband Virgil Burke said, " Heaven has yet another angel. I have lost a wonderful, creative and loving man... I am in disbelief as I can't imagine our lives without him."

The customers at The Sugar Shop loved Maynor's kindness and attentiveness as much as the customized cakes, cookies and pastries he created. Along with family and friends, they have expressed their grief and condolences online as well as leaving flowers at the bakery in tribute to his memory.

click to enlarge Penny Whistle has a great patio for this gorgeous weather. - PHOTO BY JORDAN SMITH
Penny Whistle has a great patio for this gorgeous weather.
Photo by Jordan Smith

Penny Whistle Pub, 1625 Richmond, has added a new kitchen with sandwich menu, bar snacks and desserts. This is the first time that the Irish pub has offered a food menu, after it took over the space which formerly housed The Harp on St. Patrick's Day 2019.

“With bars requiring food services to be open, we wanted to start a unique food menu that everybody would enjoy,” owner Ted Baker said. “At the same time, we wanted to create something that fit with the culture and ambiance of Penny Whistle Pub." That ambiance includes comfortable couches, a fireplace, game room with darts and ping pong plus a large outdoor patio.

click to enlarge Everyone loves a club sandwich with frilly toothpicks. - PHOTO BY JORDAN SMITH
Everyone loves a club sandwich with frilly toothpicks.
Photo by Jordan Smith
Penny Whistle’s new sandwiches include a Chicken Salad with rotisserie chicken on a croissant roll, a Classic Italian on baguette and a Stacked Club with a pile of turkey, bacon and ham topped with lettuce, tomato and Swiss and American cheese. There's also the hefty Reuben Sandwich with a quarter pound of pastrami and spicy Russian dressing. The Roast Beef and Cheddar is another big boy with a quarter-pound of shaved prime rib, arugula, melted cheddar and a creamy horseradish sauce on a toasted baguette or ciabatta roll. The sandwiches come with chips and a pickle spear.

The menu also offers bar bites such as the popular Fresh Baked Pretzel from Penny Whistle’s sister bar Revelry on Richmond, along with chips and queso and a couple of flatbread choices.  Penny Whistle's dessert menu  features a Cinnamon and Sugar Pretzel made with pretzel dough from Slow Dough Bread. It comes with a cinnamon sugar dipping sauce. All of the sauces for the sandwiches and pretzels are made in house.

The sandwiches range in price from $10.95 for the Chicken Salad to $13.95 for the Rueben.

click to enlarge The Vegetable Pakoras are vegan and gluten-free. - PHOTO BY ANGELICA SOUSA
The Vegetable Pakoras are vegan and gluten-free.
Photo by Angelica Sousa
Tarka Indian Kitchen, 2168 Spring Stuebner, 3701 S. Shepherd and 721 W. 19th, has introduced some new vegan and vegetarian items to its menu. The Vegetable Pakoras are made with potatoes and onions, fried in a gram flour and cumin batter and served with mint-tamarind-yogurt chutney. A vegan chutney is available on request. The Beyond Keema Curry is made with a plant-based mince with peas and potatoes and is served with vegan yeast rolls. It was previously a limited time item but is now part of the permanent menu. There's also a new Mango Cheesecake, which is gluten-free.
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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.