First Pho Noodle Soup Experience
How could I have gone so long without sampling Pho Noodle Soup? My daughter Heidi insisted and she did quite a bit of research to find the best authentic spot in Houston.
As most know, Houston has endless options for any kind of Asian food. On the corner of Wilcrest and Beechnut there are 4 shopping centers offering much more than food. But when it comes to pho, I will roughly estimate there were 20 Pho Restaurant options at this one corner!
Heidi made sure the restaurant choice offered spring rolls as well as pho. No better combination than wrapping cool lettuce and cilantro around hot and crispy spring rolls. The fish sauce is a good addition, if you don't sniff.
3 bonus points for spring rolls!
Mountain of Greens!
Heidi looks like she just saw a bug in her noodles. Really I think that was just a "hurry up and take the picture" pose. She was excited about her (non-pho)dish, which was more noodles and less broth. 3 bonus points for being able to personalize your dish with mint, jalapenos, lime, basil, bean sprouts and numerous sauces. Heidi gave the hoisin a thumbs up!
What is Pho? (and how do you say it?)
Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that goes back to Hanoi in the 1920's. I found the whole experience amusing. Soup and chopsticks! I could have used a bib! But that is a good way to remember how to pronounce pho. There's a lot of fun or even a lot of funny that goes into eating Pho...pronounced more like Phu. Now if you make the mistake of saying Pho as in "fee fi fo fum", then thump yourself on the head and say, "Duh...it's Phu..."
Sort of at first. But this steamy dish became a lot more appetizing after I
"personalized" it with herbs and veggies. Then I stirred the noodles up from the bottom and things got exciting. The "well done meat" was very tender and the broth was tasty on its own.
I'll give Que Huong 5 points for food!
Que Huong was busier than this when we first entered. There were families crowding around shared dishes and pots of food. There were a few lone eaters, slurping down huge bowls of noodles as if they were racing back to work. We seemed to be the only first timers in this mostly Asian crowd. Our server didn't speak enough English to be too helpful, but she was very pleasant.
The decor was casual-festive. A few white lights on the potted palm, a couple golden Buddhas and a lively tank of goldfish. The raised area in the back had a colorful wall mural and TV. I asked our server if that area was for special entertainment. She nodded, but I'm not sure she knew what I asked.
2 bonus points for a comfortable, lively atmosphere.
So I failed a little in the People Encounter area. I have no pictures posing with owners or customers. Too busy enjoying my time with Heidi and Don (our photographer) and our GIGANTIC bowls of noodles. Let's just add 10 bonus points for enjoying a new kind of food experience with very special people!
Total of 23 Points for Que Huong!
Lunch in Austin?
There's no end to the food options in Austin! I love it when my kids, (Who know a lot about Austin) introduce me to a place that's new and different. Every place in Austin tries to be different, but Easy Tiger is different, without trying too hard.
Heidi was our guide to this unique combination of beer garden and bakery. Scott who was an anthropology student at UT not long ago, filled us in on some of the urban changes in this quieter section of 6th Street.
This is not the funky, fun, partying end of 6th Street. There are some abandoned buildings and a few homeless people, but the people of Austin are giving this area and new restaurant a chance!
Beside Waller Creek
Improvements are underway to make this creek, running beside Easy Tiger, more appealing. In the future this could be like San Antonio's Riverwalk! Even though there's just a trickle of water now, the terraced beer garden beside the creek looks pretty intriguing.
At night, I'm told this place comes to life with live music, big blowing fans, strings of lights (illuminating trees and some odd rock formations) AND ping pong balls popping across a few tables... and sometimes into Waller creek! 5 bonus points for great use of outdoor space!
Upstairs Bakery...with Windows
When you enter from the street, there's a fun warehouse feel. I love a place that let's you peek at the kitchen.
Big glass windows allow you to watch the breads being prepared. Or you can sit on one of the metal stools and read all the words on the glass, if you prefer. My favorite words of Easy Tiger Wisdom, "Slow down. Stay a while." 5 bonus points for windows that provide viewing or reading!
Mostly, I like peering through the glass and watching the bread being made.
A Bread Wall!
I also love the nice display of bread, on the wall.
There's a nice old fashioned display of baked sweets on the counter. Above that the wooden racks hold the fresh breads and pretzels on the wall.
We headed downstairs to a basement dining area, that had more of a brewery feel. Our guide Heidi, helped us pick out a Cheese Board Sampler.
Fresh rye and multigrain breads with an assortment of Anotnelli's cheeses, served with fruit mustard. (pear and fennel seed...the seeds POP with each bite!) Then our pretzel with beer cheese, which was a mix of lager, sharp cheddar and garlic. Very yummy. Great sausage in a pretzel roll with a curious corn relish!
And There's More!
The Meat Board! Corned beef and pastrami with sauerkraut and house-made mustard! The meat looked a bit fatty (I'm picky) but it melted in the mouth. 5 points for the great breads, meats and cheese. 5 bonus points for a cool place that bakes their own bread...serves craft beers along with a variety of meats and cheeses and even offers old time menu items like okra and black eyed peas!
Back in Time
I found this incredibly wonderful wallpaper, on the way to the restroom. It took me way back in time. I'm not talking about the fact that this was very funky, retro stuff. I'm talking about when I was about 8 years old and I appointed myself as the family member who would rate restrooms when our fam of 6 went out to eat.
I was always eager to return from my restroom visit to report my numbers for bathroom decor, cleanliness and sometimes excitement...if something funny or weird occured in the restroom. I still remember bursting with a favorable review of a bathroom in Des Moines, Iowa. "The wallpaper is velvety!" From that point on I gave the highest points to restaurants with fuzzy, touchable wallpaper. So 10 bonus points for Easy Tiger's great pink hallway, with those fuzzy silhouettes!
TOTAL of 30 POINTS for EASY TIGER!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.