Sunday, July 27, 2008

Food-filled weekend

Good food has many effects such as happiness and misery, depending on how much you ate. Another effect is extreme lethargy, which affected me most of the weekend. So now I have 3 days worth of good food to post about. Off we go!


I joined some friends for a long lunch at one of my favorite steakhouses here in Houston called Taste of Texas. This place has been around 30 years now and has only one location. As its name suggests, it's full of Texas pride. As you walk in, you enter what all non-Texans expect a Texas living room to look like: large fireplace, huge Texas flag hung with care, firearms and other paraphernalia hanging on the walls. Living here most of my life, I can say that not all living rooms are like this...though they should be.

After ordering the 6-oz filet mignon, I headed to the AYCE (all you can eat) salad bar. The salad spread itself is decent enough to appease any vegan. Ironically, however, it's famous for it's warm bread, flavored butter and enormous cheese wedges. That's right, ToT's venerable venue of veggie variety for devouring is better known for its cheese and bread. Shave off as much cheese as you think you need, grab as much bread as you'd like (there's rolls, jalapeño corn bread, cheese rolls and more) and your favorite butter (plain, apple or cinnamon honey). Usually, I have a hard time finding space for any veggies on my salad plate.

Even though my salad plate was mainly filled with bread and cheese, the mere act of walking through the salad bar line made me feel less guilty about the steak I was about to inhale.

Isn't she a beaut?

ToT serves its steaks with the option of two seasonings, which you can have one or the other or both. I chose both. The first seasoning is a dry lemon-pepper rub and the second is a sizzling lemon garlic butter. Neither seasoning are mandatory as far as flavor, but since there's no additional charge, why not? Ordering the butter will have your steak come out on this cow platter, which puts me more in touch with my prehistoric ancestors, who I'm sure ate directly from the side of animals with knives and forks. My filet was cooked perfectly and, as always, disappeared within 5 minutes.

Then came time for dessert. Good thing I ate my steak so fast because I had time to digest some before ordering the Snickers Pie.

How do you top off a meal of fatty red meat? With fatty sugars of course!

Fans of Snickers and cheesecake will enjoy this pie. The description will read whipped cream on graham crackers on cheesecake on Snicker crumbs on chocolate, but what it leaves out is "smile on your face." I personally can do without the whipped cream and cheesecake, so I eat it with the skill and dexterity of a surgeon performing heart surgery.


The wife and I trekked to favorite Houston sushi place, Kaneyama. We went for lunch thinking that we'd be frugal and save some money. Yeah right. As soon as we looked over their menu, our eyes lit up like Brangelina in an orphanage. So $70 dollars later, here's what we had for lunch.

Seaweed salad starts about 90% of our sushi meals. The simple, clean taste helps our palettes prepare for the seafood to come.

Gindala, or miso-marinated cod, is another favorite appetizer of ours. The cod filet is marinated overnight in a miso mixture and then broiled. Great salty flavor and flaky texture.

Chawanmushi is listed under appetizers, but since it takes longer to prepare, it always ends up being served with the main dishes.

Clockwise from top left: hotategai (whole scallop), two uni (sea urchin), tobiko (flying fish roe), unagi (fresh-water eel), masu (sea trout), ika (squid) and sake (salmon).

Amaebi (raw sweet shrimp).

Most the time, this is prepared from frozen shrimp. However, sometimes we're lucky and there will be live shrimp. The difference in freshness is distinguishable, but frozen shrimp doesn't ruin the experience. This piece was from a frozen shrimp.

Nothing wasted: the head of the shrimp used for amaebi.

The best part about ordering amaebi is that she'll eat the tail and I get the shrimp's head! It's lightly battered and fried so the shell turns brittle and essentially becomes a crispy seal locking in all the good stuff inside the shrimp's head. IMO the better half of the order.

Sukiyaki, the food not the 4 P.M. song.

This was my first time trying sukiyaki. The description enticed me by listing "yam noodles" as an ingredient along with beef, tofu and veggies (napa cabbage and green onions). The broth was sweetly salty. The yam noodles, translucent and slightly chewy, weren't quite what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed. I not sure how exactly yams were included in its making since I didn't taste yam nor saw evidence of it. The wikipedia listing has a picture that doesn't look like the noodles I had. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the mix of just a few ingredients that worked well together. I would definitely get this again.

Sunday breakfast

Met some friends for breakfast at Avalon Drug Store and Diner. This was my first time here in all the years we've lived here. Since my wife and I were running late, we asked our friends to order for us. So here's what we got:

Pecan waffle

The waffle looked and smelled great and had the crispy, cakey texture expected. However, it was sour. Not slightly sour, as if it had buttermilk or sour cream, but overpoweringly sour. I'm not sure if this is intentional or if I got a bad batch. Needless to say there was a lot left over. I then turned my attention to the following.

Chorizo quesadilla, bacon and eggs

I'm a huge fan of chorizo. Like everything else, some chorizo is better than others. This chorizo was good, but I would have like to see twice as much in the quesadilla. BTW, it was my first time having quesadilla for breakfast.

The highlight the meal was definitely the bacon, which was cooked exactly how I like it, mostly crispy with a few pieces of chewy fat. I was tempted to order another 4 orders of the cured belly bliss.

Sunday lunch

The wife and I met with her father for lunch at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Tay Do. Whenever meeting him for lunch, he either chooses this place or a buffet. Lucky for us, after the breakfast above, he chose the option of less gastric misery.

Steamed chicken with ginger soy sauce

This is one of my and my father-in-law's favorite Vietnamese dishes. This order was served warm topped with green onions and cilantro. We received about half a chicken skillfully chopped. There's nothing more annoying than chicken chopped with little shards of bone scattered through the dish. The ginger soy sauce is actually diluted with other sauces, but the ratio of dilution and the other sauces are usually a guarded secret. One thing the soy sauce is definitely diluted with is chicken fat. The resulting dish tasted like juicy meat drenched in angel tears.

Canh Chua (literally translated to "sour soup")

This is one of my wife's favorite dishes. The broth is a tamarind base, hence the sour. This order was made with catfish steaks, celery, tomatoes, bean sprouts, okra, Thai chili peppers, pineapple and coriander. All these ingredients amalgamate into a spicy, salty, slightly-sour soup with tender catfish and enough veggies to satisfy a hobbit.

In conclusion, I had a weekend spent with friends and family over some delectable delights. All the ingredients for a great time. Hope yours was the same!

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