Saturday, August 13, 2011

Where’s my travel show?

My best road trips have a theme, like the one to Arkansas where I found a single Goldfish cracker under not one, but two different hotel beds. What are the odds?

This trip it was new cars. Paper plates rustled in the Texas wind in numbers like I’d never seen. That must be good news for the economy.

I spent my dollars in restaurants, and didn’t regret it.

I don’t know how it happened, but I’ve become an Anthony Bourdain fan from Travel Channel’s “No Reservations.” He’s eaten intestines from around the globe, and I want some, too. In Houston, I made do with octopus from the Yori Yori Korean Soft Tofu & Grill.

It’s in the 99 Ranch Market near Katy, a grocery store that is nearly all noodles, exotic produce and all things Asian. The grill featured stone bowls set in wooden squares with hot, hot, hot food in the bowl. I moved vegetables and octopus around to reveal what looked like bright yellow sauce resting on rice. It was apparently a cracked egg, that soon cooked up into the food. Some crazy rice paper rolls that were sweet like dessert sealed the deal.

At 9:30 p.m. this market was packed with families and the bakery in particular was doing amazing business with two-for-one deals. Customers got a tray lined with paper and grabbed tongs to select beautiful, colorful pastries. Even thought the confections were moving fast, it seems the laden tables were like the loaves and fishes, and never go bare.

Phone it in

Because I love finding places on my own, I’m not sure how much I liked that Urban Spoon, something you can get on a smart phone, helped me find 369 Oriental Bistro by a favorite book store on Westheimer in Houston. Regulars give it great reviews and I enjoyed every bite. I didn’t get to try the crispy spicy asparagus appetizers that are much discussed.

Triple Delight

Kim Son restaurant, just about across from the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, is a family favorite. There, Triple Delight is a dish with Vietnamese Fajitas, Honey-Glazed Shrimp and Chicken. The phrase also represented the three delighted diners – me, my mother and my husband – who left a table with nary a grain of rice left. We shared dishes including Sugar Cane Shrimp, which was a paste molded around a soft “stick” of sugar cane which you could kind of munch and get some sweet juice. A bowl of warm water was placed at my side with no explanation, so we wondered if it was for cleaning up. Alas, we saw diners at the next table using the water to soften rice paper and roll their own spring rolls tableside. I make those at home, in the kitchen, so I didn’t figure that out. Mini faux pas aside, we can’t wait to get back to Kim Son.

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