Sunday, August 30, 2015


904 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77006

Bair Hugger Deluxe made sure Uchi was the first dinner I had in Houston.  I guess it's a big deal here.  It is in Austin, where it was first opened up by Chef Tyson Cole.  He won Best Chef Southwest in 2011.  Uchi and its sister restaurant Uchiko might sound more familiar as the former kitchen of Top Chef season 9 winner Paul Qui.  He started there as an intern and over 7 years worked his way up to chef de cuisine.  Uchi can be thought of as a Nobu-esque restaurant.  Modern Japanese meets Asian fusion meets cool/upscale.  The place is super popular.  Bair Hugger makes it seem like restaurants of this caliber are few and far between.  He usually takes all out-of-towners here.

We got great seats at the bar.  I love sitting at the bar.  I love being a stone's throw from the action.  Sadly we didn't get to sit in front of this guy.  Only a bad ass can walk around with just one patch of hair on his head.  I believe he was the main sushi guy, cutting all the fish for sashimi/nigiri.  It's an interesting set up.  Each guy behind the bar mans a different station.  Our guy was actually just the roll guy.  There was another guy manning the yakitori type things.  There was another guy in the kitchen just making the Brussels sprouts.  

Refreshing, cool, not too sweet.  A pleasant way to start.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Zydeco Louisiana Diner

Zydeco Louisiana Diner
1119 Pease St.
Houston, TX 77002

I've only ever been to Houston once in my life.  It was for a funeral.  Kinda morbid I know, but you can imagine that I didn't do much recreational eating during my short trip there 4 years ago.  I was visiting Bair Hugger, who calls Houston his home, ever so begrudgingly.  Bair Hugger is aware of my passion for eating and food blogging.  He too shares a similar passion, though he believes iPhone pictures posted on Facebook is passable food porn.  Unfortunately, we do not share the same love for Zydeco Kitchen.  I have a pretty high bar when it comes to Southern food because it's just not one of my favorites being so heavy and unhealthy.

The setup at Zydeco is pretty casual.  It's cafeteria style.  You grab a tray, you point to what you want and you're meal is handed to you.  Some dishes do require ordering and waiting for a number call.

Crawfish Etouffee stewed okra & tomatoes, corn maque choux, cornbread
So I guess the closest thing to Southern food I've had lately has been the panroast, gumbos, jambalayas at Ritters.  Maybe it's blasphemy that I even put Ritter's in the same category as Zydeco.  What do I know?  I am no Southern food expert.  I liked that the crawfish was plentiful here.  I wasn't very impressed with the depth of flavor.  Even the side dishes of okra, corn, and cornbread were slightly lacking in salt and sugar.  So overall, I was kinda meh about this set.
Fried Oysters & Shrimp jambalaya
I enjoyed this dish much more.  The oysters were plump and juicy.  The cornmeal based batter wasn't too heavy or overwhelming.  The shrimps were also similarly moist and lightly battered.  I enjoyed dipping them in the standard ketchup, cocktail sauce, and tartar sauce trio.  The jambalaya was a different style than I've had before.  It was drier and didn't pack that big of a punch.  The fries were really nothing special.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Good Taste

Good Taste (Old Town - Chinatown location)
18 NW 4th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

After a few miles hiking through the evergreen forests of Portland, we definitely worked up a appetite for something comforting.  The noodles at Good Taste really hit the spot.  The place is your typical fobby Chinese joint.  Their mastery of cleanliness is only slightly outshined by their mastery of the English language.  Though, one could argue the opposite depending on which server you get.  Just kidding.  There was no hair in my food or bugs in my water.  Ok, I'm really just kidding now.  Good Taste is known for their rice and egg noodle dishes.  Their portions are generous.  Their prices are right.  It's not crowded.  The MSG is not terribly obvious.  What is there to hate about this place?

Chinese Brocolli oyster sauce
I love extra side dishes to my main course.  Pretty standard fare.

Steamed Chicken, Roasted Duck over Rice
Zhu Zhu Hamster went for the rice.  I think she rather liked the ginger scallion sauce.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pip's Original Doughnut

Pip's Original Doughnuts
4759 NE Fremont St., Ste C
Portland, OR 97213

When traveling, I grapple with this horrible first world problem.  There's just not enough meals and time in a day to eat everything I want to eat.  With some thoughtful planning, we were able to squeeze in a visit to Pip's for some fresh-from-the-fryer mini doughnuts.  Like everything else Portland, the shop is a charming little place with hipsters taking your orders using iPads and Square.  Actual inked signatures and paper receipts are becoming a thing of the past.  So Zhu Zhu Hamster and Little Pet finally rolled out of bed to meet us here before our hike.

While the doughnuts are the main attraction here, the chai is not to be missed.  I don't usually like chai.  All those spices in a hot beverage is not something I'm used to, but I quite enjoyed the offerings here.  You have the option of whole, skim, soy, hemp, or almond milk.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Olympia Provisions

Olympia Provisions
107 SE Washington St.
Portland, OR 97214

My first visit to Olympia Provisions was 4 years ago, at a time when it was still known as Olympic Provisions (please refer to this link for the utterly ridiculous drama surrounding its name change).  But despite the name change, the place still remains the meat/charcuterie/savory centric dining destination that I've always been meaning to revisit.  I mean, how can you NOT come back to a place that welcomes you with this type of signage.  
I was a bit disappointed that Zhu Zhu Hamster and Little Pet didn't join Decidedly Undecided and me for brunch.  Sure I tried to lay down a guilt trip like I missed their company, but really I wanted a bigger dining party so I could order and try more food.  Alas, between just two people, we could not do much damage.

I'm totally on this ginger beer kick, but this was just ok.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Khao San

Khao San
1435 NW Flanders St.
Portland, OR 97209

I love Asian food more than any other food on this planet.  After a couple non Asian meals, I will usually crave something Asian.  So I was happy to squeeze in some Thai food during my Portland trip.  The Thai food is noticeable solid in Portland.  Of course there are your average joints, but on the whole I've always been pleased with my options here.  After a long day out and about checking out parts of Portland unknown to me with Decidedly Undecided, Zhu Zhu Hamster, and Little Pet, we settled on Khao San which had pretty good Yelp reviews and wasn't too far off the beaten path.  Big Spoon was able to get away from a rough day on call to feast with us.

Blue Crab and Rice Noodle Stir Fry rice noodle, blue crab meat, egg, bean sprout, chives, garlic, chili, fried soft shell crab
Kind of like a less sweet/sour and more savory version of pad Thai.  There was great crabby flavor and the fried soft shell crab was a delicious crunchy addition.

Khao San Holy Basil minced chicken, holy basil, fried egg
I think this was like pad ka prao.  The fried egg and bit of fish sauce for dipping were snazzy touches.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015


5202 N. Albina Ave.
Portland, OR 97217

Decidedly Undecided and I attempted to brunch it at one of my favorite spots, Tasty & Alder, but of course the wait was ridiculous so we skedaddled from the shiny part of Downtown Portland over to the more grungy Northwest Portland.  I had never heard of Sweedeedee, but Zhu Zhu Hamster suggested it and Decidedly Undecided gave it two thumbs up.  My friends are wary of sending bad food recommendations my way because they know about my discerning palate and high standards.  The restaurant itself is so typically Portland.  It basically looks like a shack from the outside and very quaint on the inside.  When I lived here, I would have turned my nose at this place or at least rolled my eyes and sighed "Oh, Portland..."  Now, I can really see the charm.  The place is just simple, and that is reflected in the food.  I wish I had taken a picture of the kitchen.  It didn't really look like a kitchen, more like a room with people cooking in it.  It was more wood than stainless steel.

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Friday, August 14, 2015


414 SW 13th Ave
Portland, OR 9720

When I lived in Portland, the perpetual doom and gloom would get to me on certain days, especially so when I had a stressful day at work.  I'm definitely a stress eater.  I feel like indulging in something deliciously sinful soothes my woes away.  Living above this fancy schmancy chocolate shop made it easy to drown my sorrows in vats of high quality premium chocolate from all over the world.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Ava Gene

Ava Gene was one of the few restaurants that impressed Perpetually Underwhelmed during her time in Portland.  Obviously, that is saying something given her name.  Zhu Zhu Hamster sang the restaurant's praises.  It was the first restaurant I wanted to try during my summer visit to my old city.  The weather left much to be desired, what with the normally hot sunny summer temps replaced by the standard Portlandian doom and gloom.  On the flip side, the experience at Ava Gene was more than we expected.  First of all, we did not have reservations but were able to walk in during prime dinner hours on a Friday and snag a table due to a last minute cancellation.  We were pretty stoked at our luck because it probably would have been over an hour wait otherwise.

Pane fresh sheep cheese, tomatoes, basil
Our waitress recommended this from the bread selection.  So simple, so balanced, so delectable.  Bravo!

Gnocco Fritto prosciutto, parmigiano, saba
I had this another time at Tasting Kitchen.  The more I eat it, the more I liked it.  My dining companions, Zhu Zhu Hamster, Little Pet, and Decidedly Undecided didn't speak one way or the other on this dish.  I imagine it was strange to them, as it was to me when I first tried it.  Hard to go wrong with fried dough and meat.  I liked the light drizzle of balsamic vinegar, which added a subtle sweet sour note.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Larchmont Bungalow

I've heard of Larchmont Bungalow's famous red velvet pancakes for many moons now.  Hobag and I were not too hungover from our Italian, donut, and wine fiesta the previous night to indulge a little something sweet to get our day started.  The place itself has a casual cafe vibe with sidewalk seating, an outside patio, and indoor tables.  You order at the front and get a buzz when your food is ready.  The place was busy enough for a random weekday brunch, but that's just standard for the LA scene with its plethora of Hollywood types trying to make it.

Chinese Chicken Salad grilled chicken, radicchio, napa cabbage, sesame dressing, wonton chips
We knew right away we wanted the red velvet pancakes, but we hummed and hawed about our other choices.  I guess it's no surprise the rest of our order was just your average lunch food.  Nothing bad, but nothing great.

Turkey Guacamole Club oven roasted turkey, bacon, tomato, lettuce 
I probably could have made a better version of this at my house.

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