Category Archives: Chinese

Golden Gate Bakery

Sugar and I don’t get along, so I rarely seek out desserts. There is one though that I’m able to tolerate and oddly, that is the Chinese egg tart. The filling is a little bit sweet but teeters on savoury, the consistency is a little lighter than a custard, the crust is of the standard buttery, crunchy variety. Growing up I snacked on these whenever I wandered through Chinatown, so I drug my travel mates up the Grant Ave. hill from Union Square to seek one out at what is arguably the best source, Golden Gate Bakery.

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Its not much from the street, small and innocuous, but inside almost all of the requisite Chinese baked goods are crammed into cases hidden behind the constant crowds of people yelling in Chinese, pointing maniacally at items and  holding up counts with their fingers.

My travel mates were not so impressed with the taste of egg tarts, however they did like the red bean cakes, which were waay too sweet for me.

If you happen to find yourself wandering through San Francisco’s Chinatown in the mood for something a little sweet, pop by and grab an egg tart at GG Bakery; just tell yourself  you’ll need the carbs to make it up and down the hills.

Snack: September 2014

Golden Gate Bakery | 1029 Grant | SF 94133


Peking Cuisine

IMG_1764No birthdays, no new hires, no one quit. We finally found our Raison d’être for a group lunch – Chinese New Year. Of course we were a week late but that’s how schedules go sometimes.

Our resident expert in Peking Duck made arrangements for us at Peking Cuisine to sample the sample the elusive dish. Apparently, the draw for this venue’s version of Peking Duck is the cooking method. Its a slow roast which eliminates most of the fat between the skin and meat.

There isn’t much. Its a highly utilitarian venue buried in a sad strip center off the 59 south of town near Beechnut. It clean, it has two big rooms with doors to separate from the rest of the space, which can be quite loud during the lunch rush.

Excellent. The primary reason to come here is for the Peking Duck. When presented there is a mound of duck meat hiding under a tumble of crispy duck skin. Its served with the requisite pancakes, shaved green onions and a sauce resembling hoisin in consistency but with flavours less sweet and more soy.

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One of the ‘other dishes’ we ordered was a Spicy Whole Fish, which was also excellent and for me, was just as delicious as the Peking Duck. Good luck trying to uncover the kind of fish used in this dish, I couldn’t. In any case, its a firm white fish with excellent flavor sans ‘spicy sauce’ but even better with. I was warned this was extra hot but the reality is that its amusingly warm, like IMG_1766Tabasco. Savory soy, garlic  and hot pepper flavours permeate the fish and tofu. With a small dollop of steamed rice this was a welcomed addition to our lunch and paired well with near freezing temperatures outside.

Its difficult to judge service, in general, when you are in a 14-person group. However, the service was good, aside from not being able to answer the question about what fish was used in the Spicy Whole Fish. While the Peking Duck was ordered in advance (and must be due to cooking time), the dishes came out in quick succession after 15 minutes. There were some incidents of having to ask for water, utensils, etc. more than once, but I attribute that to being sequestered in separate room.

Very reasonable. 2 Peking Ducks, 7 ‘other dishes’ and one Duck Soup – $16/person

I like Peking Cuisine and for those looking for a more authentic Chinese culinary experience in Houston, you should definitely give it a go.

Lunch: 8 Feb 2014

Peking Cuisine | 8332 I-59 S | HTX 77074

Fu Fu

Houston is not known for good Chinese food. Partially this is the result of having a relatively small Chinese community, however its also partially due to the local perspective on what constitutes good Chinese food. Sorry, Houstonians, but Pei Wei does not make the cut for me.

Luckily our work-lunch crew has several Chinese and Taiwanese natives, which has afforded us access to the best Chinese food Houston has to offer. While the selection of restaurants is small, if you have been spoiled by great Chinese in places like NYC and San Francisco, there is hope for you in Houston.

Saying goodbye to a co-worker is a good reason for a lunch outing. While we will miss her, we were excited for her new work adventure and to try Fu Fu, her favourite restaurant. As our expert for 12 Fu Fu virgins, we were grateful to have her order everything for us. In Chinese.

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Fu Fu is located waay out near Beltway 8 in what is known as Chinatown-West, a sparkly, new development where you can find just about anything Chinese, Vietnamese and other Asian flavour. You’ll notice in the area, that even the apartment complexes have signage in Chinese. Fu Fu is a small restaurant catering mostly to the Chinese community. Its well-appointed, clean and very busy but quite relaxing. No musical distractions. No hurry up and out. Plenty of patience when answering questions.

All wins. I wont go over each of the 14 dishes our large group consumed but the highlights for me were

Salt Shrimp. Whole shrimp coated in a very light casing dusted with salt then flash fried. Pick off the head, grab the tail then enjoy, shell and all. I liked the simplicity of flavours, no need to disguise the shrimp, they were fresh, juicy and cooked to perfection.

Sizzling Chicken. I’m not exactly sure how this is made but it seems thin strips of chicken mixed with a batter similar to that used in General Tso’s, fried,  placed on a hot plate then drizzled with a sauce that was initially hot (jalapeno) then faded to garlic and soy. I was a little reluctant to try this dish since it resembled General Tso’s and I’m not a fan of the sickly sweet sauce that accompanies that dish, but, pleasantly, that was not the case.

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Service is very professional and efficient. Since Fu Fu is a more authentic Chinese restaurant their offerings differ from other Chinese venues in Houston, which prompted many questions. They answered them all very patiently. Our order for 14 people – 14 family style dishes with a few green onion pancakes and egg rolls was up in 25 minutes. All apps came out at once. A 15-minute pause. Then all dishes came out at once.

7 apps, 14 dishes, 8 hot teas – $17 a person, tip included. This is actually very reasonable considering we had many seafood options including Lobster Fried Rice.

While I’m not a fan of driving waay out to the Beltway for anything, I will definitely make a trip back to Fu Fu. And I’ll probably spend some time investigating the many grocery and specialty stores I noted in the area.

Lunch: 17 January 2014

Fu Fu Restaurant | 9889 Bellaire Blvd. | HTX 77036

Bao Z Dumplings

I  heard downtown Houston had a tunnel system that connected all of the skyscrapers together as well as the some of the performing arts building on the West side. Well, its true, about 7 miles of underground tunnels exist and within those tunnels is what might be Houston’s best dumpling. Jury is still out but today’s excursion to Bao Z Dumpling was at least encouraging.

To get to Bao Z, just go to the Lamar St side of First City Tower at Fannin St, enter, take the big escalator to right down to the basement and viola, you have just entered the tunnel system. At the bottom, turn right and you will see the surprisingly long line in front of Boa Z.

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You’re in the basement of a skyscraper at a kiosk in what is loosely a food court, what do you think? Grab your dumplings and either head outside to one of the shady parks or try to wedge into one of the few tables spread out in that part of the tunnel system.

I’ve been spoiled by Chinese in NYC and San Francisco so I’m usually disappointed with Chinese elsewhere. However, these are good dumplings, particularly the pan-fried pork variety. The filling for the pork dumpling is relatively simple – pork,  lightly spiced. The casing is firm, holding itself together through my spastic chopstick maneuvers but not thick nor too chewy. The one sauce which is basically soy, vinegar with a varying amount of chili flake comes in three strengths: regular, spicy and “I dare you”

There are other items on the menu besides dumplings, like the requisite Chinese soups and a green onion pancake but who cares? The dumplings come in 4 flavors: chicken, pork, shrimp and veg. You can get them steamed or pan-fried. You can get them in a 6-pack, 12-pack or 18-pack. When you order a 12-pak you can mix 2 flavors, an 18-pack buys you 3 flavors. A 12-pack of steamed chicken dumplings has 300 calories, according to their menu.

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The line is long but the ordering process is NYC efficient. From the time I entered the line, there were about 15 people ahead of me, until the time I received my 12-pack was 15 minutes.

12-pack of pork/chicken dumplings – $6
12-pack of pork/chicken dumpling plus a hot&sour soup and a medium drink – $7.50

A special note about operating hours – like most everything in the downtown Houston tunnel system, Bao Z is only open for lunch M-F, 11a-3p.

The downtown Houston oil crowd might think they have a lock-down on Bao Z but us kids from the Medical Center are coming back and we’re bringing our friends.

Lunch: 24 July 2013

Bao Z Dumplings | 1001 Fannin, Underground | Houston, TX 77002