I was recently invited to attend a Chinatown Food Crawl by Yelper extraordinaire Lou C. in Bellaire. About 15 people showed up to taste the street food style tapas available at the Metropole Center Night Market. Our first stop was Jing 5 where we munched on spicy duck wings and necks while waiting for everyone to arrive. Our host had nametags and info sheets for all guests. Lou gave us a bit of history on the cuisine and some background info on the owners. The duck wings and necks are first boiled and then placed in a spicy brine. I found very interesting that the dishes were served cold.
The second stop was 75 Yummy Kitchen. The owners were waiting for us to arrive and as soon as we sat down a variety of intriguing dishes began arriving at the table. Dishes were served family style and our table had a huge lazy Susan in the center making it easy for the large group to access all the food. We had an assortment of spicy dishes thanks to the chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns as well as some non-spicy dishes to cool the palate. Sichuan peppercorns produce an introducing numbing effect (mala) - ma meaning numbing and la meaning hot.
The dishes at Yummy Kitchen seemed never ending. Over ten entrees were brought to the table including won ton, dumplings, Dan Dan Noodles, spicy chicken, kung pao, tofu skins, and sliced beef and ox tongue. The two stand out dishes for me were the Malatang and the Sichuan Grilled Fish. The Malatang was a spicy hot soup that is made to order. You fill your bowl with items from the buffet and deliver it to your server with a pack of noodles. In a few minutes your hot bowl of soup is brought to the table. The Grilled Fish was placed in the center of the table in a bubbling tray of chili garlic sauce. It was delicious! The Iced Mung Bean Jelly was the perfect beverage for cooling off after all the spicy dishes.
The next stop was Olympic Bakery. Normally not open this late in the evening, the owner stayed open just for us. We were welcomed with the aroma of sweet pastries and samples of wife cake, crispy wontons, and jerky. Moon Cakes were available in several flavors.
The final stop of the evening was Star Snow Ice. Smoothies, Snow Ice, hot tofu soup, and warm jelly were among the many items on the menu. I choose mango snow ice with fresh fruit. It was the perfect ending to a fun and informative event.
Tony's has always been synonymous with fine dining. The decor is elegant and the service is impeccable. So when an opportunity presented itself to dine at Tony's along with members of the Houston Food Blogger Collective, I jumped at the chance. I knew it would be a memorable evening and it was indeed.
The meal started with glasses of Prosecco while we chatted amongst ourselves. Fellow HFBC member and our host for the evening, Jeremy Parzen, provided us with some background information about the restaurant and its previous locations prior to settling in its current home in Greenway Plaza. Although, unable to join us for the evening, Mr. Vallone picked out a special tasting menu and wine for us to enjoy.
The first course was Gnocchi al Forno with Cerignola Olives and Pecorino. The dish was simple, yet delightful. The sauce was creamy and the gnocchi were light and fluffy. Next was a Baby Romaine salad topped with spicy walnuts and roasted butternut squash drizzled with a white anchovie vinaigrette. For our entrees we were given a choice of Branzino or Elk. Being the carnivore that I am, I could not resist the Elk.
The seared Wyoming Elk chop arrived medium rare atop roasted eggplant and it paired excellently with the full bodied Massolino Barolo. Roasted rustic potatoes and truffled mac & cheese sides were served family style.
Just when we thought the evening couldn't get any better a magnificent cannoli souffle was brought to the table along with cotton candy and a mini dessert tray. It was truly a wonderful evening of food, wine, and fellowship. I enjoyed meeting new bloggers and catching up with old friends.
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.