Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tiger Den (Bellaire/Chinatown)

Ramen.  It's the new hot, "it" food.  On Christmas Eve, whatelse would be the perfect meal?!  Well, we figured, Asian food might be our only option, so Tiger Den it is!  Actually, I was quite excited to try this new restaurant.  There are no reservations, you get there, sign in on the list, taped on the outside of the door and then you get called in.  We ended up seeing the owner outside, which I recognized her from Aka Sushi.  She is one of the owners and we chatted a little outside.  I told her I had read they researched by flying to San Francisco, NYC, China, etc.  She confirmed and shared a lot about her experiences.  She mentioned that it takes such a long time to cook the soups that they can only sell 300 bowls a day.  They're only opened for evening service.  She also mentioned that the effort to cook Ramen soup versus Pho soup takes such an exponentially longer time, but yet is only $0.05 cents more, she is not bitter, but she jokes about it.  She's cool.
We finally get in, we are sat at the community table, which I didn't mind. You also get to see what other people are eating.  We decided to go with the veggie starters.  We got the cucumber, eggplant, mushroom medley, oh and the chicken skewers, which our server suggested as top choices.  They were all really good.  My favorite was the eggplant...I still think about it today, it was so good.  The flavor was just good.  We both got the garlic black bean.  This is the first time I have ever eaten ramen at a restaurant, so I'm not sure what to compare it to.  But, compared to ramen from a package,'s definitely a higher quality.  I thought the soup and the veggies in it tasted good.  The pork was tender, but a little too fatty for me.  But, there weren't other options.  They all have the pork in the 4 different choices of ramen soups on the menu.  I heard the spicy miso was really good too.  The ramen is $8.00, not bad.
I would go back again.  It's a bit of a drive for me, but for that eggplant and the other veggie starters would be worth a drive, but it definitely wouldn't be an often occurrence.  It's definitely worth a try.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nara Restaurant (West Ave)

Nara is a new Korean and Japanese fusion restaurant in the West Ave shopping center off of Upper Kirby, in the old Katusya space.  I have been very interested in making a visit since I first heard about it.  But, you know wedding, honeymoon, and I completely forgot about it.  Well, since we've settled in, Matt and I have decided to implement date night and this past Friday was our first.  It was an automatic...Nara! 

So, if you didn't know, I'm Korean.  So, naturally, you would suspect I would be more critical of a Korean restaurant.  But, I have every intention of being open minded, but still, I am influenced by my experience of Korean food.  When you walk in, you can see the old Katsuya's presence, just a bit.   There's still the large open spaces, sushi bar in the center, and bar to the right of the door.  They have revamped and it does look great.  I decide I do not want to do any sushi since I have had Uptown sushi's sushi.  You know, since Nara is the same owner as Uptown Sushi, chef/owner Don Chang.  We mostly went with our sever suggestions, the Shiseto peppers, rice cake with oxtail, bibeembap, steamed buns with short ribs, steamed buns with chicken, mimi chicken salad, the kimchi, and the green tiramisu.  Our favorites were the rice cake with oxtail, bibeembap, and chicken salad.  I like the crispyness of the rice cake, sauce and the oxtail.  It had a nice texture and tasted great too.  The bibeembap, mixed rice with fried egg was pretty tasty too, and the mimi chicken salad just tasted light, I really liked the dressing on it, light soy based vinegar sauce.  The kimchi was bland, it just wasn't ripe enough.  But, if you aren't used to kimchi, you probably wouldn't notice.  The green tiramisu was pretty good too.

I thought the menu was a little slim and a lot of Uptown Sushi's presence on it. It was probably only the appetizers, salads, and main entrees that seemed new.  The staff has this Uchi-like presence about them, this team work style and explanation of foods type environment.  I heard people complaining about the portions of the dishes.  Our sever explained it was like a tapas style, small sharing plates.    We were stuffed by the end of dinner for two.  We ordered about 9 dishes and it came out to $140 including 2 glasses of wine, which isn't bad.  I think if you keep an open mind and keep in mind it's Korean/Japanese fusion, you'll have a nice experience.  Overall, we liked our visit and it was a great place for our first date night.

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Living Furniture (Rice Village)

I happen to be running some errands in the neighborhood and saw this neat little shop with a small workshop next to it off of Kirby in Rice Village.  I get a quick peek at some of their furniture through the window and decide I need to check this place out!  I have to say, I really loved it!  It was really neat shop.  A concept I have never seen before.  You know me, I love rustic meets contemporary.  On top of the fact that everything just looked cool and interesting, they are also very environmental conscious!
If I had seen this place a couple of months ago, I probably would have purchased our bed frame from here.  They do a lot of custom work.  I am looking for some night stands, so when I get some time, I am probably going to check out their services.  Isn't their warehouse/storefront cool?  I love it!  I'll post once I find out what the costs are like and if I get a finished product.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Southland Hardware

Ok, so this post may or may not be useful to you right now, but at some point it will be.  In the past, I have had several wall hangings end up tragically with cracked glass and never really knew what to do with them, especially if I still really liked the art.  I had one still hanging over my bed, it's one I really liked.  Well, I happen to be at Southland Hardware store and noticed they have this glass replacement station!  That is exactly what I needed!  I took my art there and got it replaced.  It was less than $10!  How awesome is that?  I know, pretty awesome, right?  Ok, that's it....happy glass replacing!

The Good Dog Hot Dog Visit II

I cannot tell a lie...I actually visited again before the wedding, this time I had the real dog!  It's all Matt's fault!  He said he read something where it had opened with great reviews and he really wanted to go visit...grr...I was trying to be "good"!  I didn't put up much of a fight, though.  I'll tell you, it's not a place you want to go if you're watching your girlish figure.  We ordered a salad to try to balance the meal...the salad...probably worse than the dogs!  We also got the homemade chips, ugh!  Really, I didn't like anything other than the dogs.  The girl who took our order said she loved the new curry dog, I didn't care for it so much.  The guac dog is still my favorite!  You should go visit, it's really the best dogs I've ever had.  In the meantime, I'm going to try to stay away from Studewood.  Happy eating!

Good Dog Hot Dog Open!

I'm excited to report, The Good Dog Hot Dog is finally open!  I don't know about you, but I have been waiting anxiously.  On my first visit, which was before the wedding, I was still trying to be "good", but I really wanted to visit, so I took Jay, his first time, and decided to get a tofu hot dog.  It's actually ok, but I prefer the real dog.  It's one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I love the guac dog, sooo good.  If you haven't tried TGDHD, you must, must, must!  Look at these delicious dogs! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

London - Day Seven

Today is the final day of our honeymoon vacation and we decided to spend it in London.  We were pleasantly surprised to see Bruno not only had a basket of snacks and wine waiting in our room, but also had our room upgraded!  What a very thoughtful gift and it really set the tone of our day.

We started our day in London traveling here and about mid afternoon headed out to The Only Running Foot Man Pub and ordered the best fish and chips I've ever had.  We then visited Buckingham Palace, soon after we walked to Harrods which was highly recommended by Bruno.  I had to see what all the fuss was about...and wow, it's like a little city!  Anything you want, it's there.  I took a few shots of the food mall, but it isn't a good reflection of the enormity of Harrods by any means.  It was quite an experience and it really got me in the Christmas mood.

After that huge eye orgasm, we headed over to Covent Gardens next to our hotel, walked around the cool shops and market area, it was really cold tonight and we dropped in Dishoom, an Indian restaurant.  Wow, great food again!  Fyi,  I did research on all these restaurants before we went and they all had high ratings.  I just could not bear another sub par meal.  So, I'm happily stuffed tonight  again and am sure I have gained 10 pounds! 

Well, our vacation is over and we are headed back tomorrow morning.  I'm actually looking forward to getting back to Houston and getting back to normal life.  It's been a long, cold, fun, inspiring, fattening, super enjoyable trip.  We had a great time in Paris and I found the Parisians to be so nice and friendly, although we always made an effort in French first by asking "pallez vous anglais?" (do you speak English).  And we all know the Brits are just cool people.  We had a fabulous honeymoon in Europe, just fabulous!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day Six & Final Day in Paris

It's our last day here and also happens to be my birthday.  This morning, I come out of the bathroom and realize my husband has made more of an effort than he's been pretending to.  It's exactly what I have been wanting, a Garmin watch!  Also, he made plans for a package of dinner at the Eiffel tower, show at the Moulin Rouge, and a cruise on the river, but they sent us a note today that they had no availability and so we decided just to have a low key day and get lost in Paris.

We always start the day off by stopping off at Starbucks before our long walk to breakfast.  We also like to see what name they'll write on his coffee cup. This time they got it exactly right.  We then walked 1.5 miles to Bob's Kitchen and realized we did not walk into a breakfast place, but a vegan lunchie type place.  It was actually charming, small, simple, kind of modern, but I was a bit hesitant and Matt was disappointed.  But, we decided to go ahead and stay and we went with our server's suggestions, veggie stew with tomato sauce and mine, pad thai.  We were both very surprised at how flavorful and light our meals were.  It's interesting how healthy our food looks, but really they were both so tasty and good.  We also had him bring us 2 desserts, and the chocolate cookie was amazing!  I mean besides the fact that it was a chocolate cookie in a vegan restaurant, I mean the cookie was just stinking good.  We were both pleasantly surprised about all the food.  We enjoyed our entire experience very much.

We continued our walk out of China town and into some shopping area, crossed the bridge, revisited our lock on the bridge, just to see if we could find it again, and we did.  We roamed the streets of Paris and later headed to Josselin Creperie and had the best crepes I've ever had in my life!  We ended up sitting next to a couple who once lived in Houston and who's daughter still does and actually lives off of Washington corridor like we do....small world.  They recommended we go to Gambino's and order any pizza, so we did...several hours later, that is.  Although, it does feel like all we do here in Paris is eat.  In between we roamed the streets some more, ran into Louis Vuitton where Matt purchased me a very nice and unexpected Christmas present.  By the way, it is true, LVs are a bit cheaper in Paris and there is no tax!

Gambino's was a great recommendation.  We loved the atmosphere and the food.  We walked home and ended our final day in Paris.  We had a great time here and we're off to London tomorrow.  Last picture below sums up how I felt about my trip in Paris.  Au revoir, Paris!  Hope to see you again one day!