Between the two of us, we have been to many Chinatowns around the United States (New York, California, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., etc) and even to the country of China. The Chinatown in Houston is very different than what’s in your typical metropolitan city. In Houston fashion and from our experience, Houston Chinatown is a long row of strip malls with all of your Asian needs. In other Chinatowns we have been to, normally there is more Asian inspired architecture and Asian people crowding the streets. It makes sense that Houston is not like this because of the excessive heat and the need to drive everywhere. Also note that we said “ASIAN NEEDS” – people often refer to this area as Asian town because of the melting pot of different Asian cultures. There isn’t just Chinese related food/activities here; there are Japanese, Mongolian, Korean, and Vietnamese inspired places as well.
Another thing we learned from our experience goes along with the old adage – “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. There are so many hole in the wall restaurants that you would never think twice about going into when you look at them from the outside. Thankfully we received some good recommendations from some Chinatown aficionados the night before we went. If this girl hadn’t given us these recommendations, there would have been no way that we would have stepped into some of these restaurants.
Below is the list of the places we went to and the order in which we went.
1st Stop: TEAHOUSE
Purely based off Yelp, we decided to go to Honey Bee Teahouse and Fast Food located off Bellaire Blvd and we were so happy we discovered this place!! Have you heard of bubble or boba tea? It’s tea or coffee with tapioca balls in it. Lindsay loves it but if you’re a texture person, I wouldn’t recommend it. The menu is very large so it can be overwhelming to order what you want! Carley ordered the green milk tea and Lindsay ordered the coffee ice milk drink with boba, caramel and coffee jelly (coffee jelly was awesome). There are a lot of add-ons to each drink that you can get. For example, many different types of jelly (which are just small cubes of flavor added into your drink) or flavored pudding. You can also pick your sweetness level which we would recommend getting 50% sweetness if you get any add-on’s.
We didn’t get a chance to try to bao but it looked delicious – next time 😉
2nd Stop: DIM SUM
Fung’s Kitchen – Rated one of the best Cantonese restaurants in Houston.
- Service – Let’s just note that we got here around 3:00pm – not your typical meal time. We didn’t realize their full-service dim sum was served from 10AM -3PM daily. Upon arrival, they promptly sat us and instantly a man with a cart arrived to our table. We were very overwhelmed and had no idea why this man was offering us food from this cart. Apparently, this is a typical dim sum occurrence. Unfortunately because we came at the end of the dim sum service, they had run out of the fried items and didn’t have their full menu. Now we know for next time, don’t get there late! Our waiter Rod was hysterical – making all sorts of jokes at us, but he was also very accommodating and helpful.
- Atmosphere – This place feels like a China ball room. When we first entered, the inside looked like it went for miles. They have a sliding wall that transformed the place and it’s beautifully ornamented with Chinese statues and other items.
- Food – We ordered steamed pork dumplings, steamed shrimp dumplings, Shanghai dumplings (Xiao long Bao), Chinese broccoli, vegetable dumplings, and pork egg rolls. Everything was very good; would definitely like to go back for a full dim sum experience and to try everything on the menu. They also have a different kitchen for regular menu items. Next time we go back we want to try their Peking duck – our waiter HIGHLY recommended it.
3rd Stop: MASSAGES
We can confidently say that one of the best massages we’ve had in Houston and maybe in our lives was for $25 at Oasis Massage . These people know what they are doing and the best part it’s only $25. Yes everyone, that’s not a typo, it was only $25. So this is the secret everyone… There are a few options when you walk into the place like “full body” or “back and shoulder” but everyone and we mean everyone get the basic “foot massage” for one hour for $25. You will not regret this decision. The secret is that you actually get a full body massage when you sign up for the foot massage but it’s half the price (there are so many things to bold in this paragraph, sorry we can’t help it). The foot massage includes your head/scalp, feet, calves, shoulders, neck, back, traps, maybe a little butt rubbing depending on your masseuse, and arms. The only major difference between this massage and your typical body massage is that you were fully clothed.
4th Stop: ROLLED ICE CREAM
Class 502 – Chinese rolled ice cream has been on our mind for weeks. This was a very unique experience. They have the ice cream in a science beaker, note this place is called Class 502 and is supposed to resemble a school. They pour the beaker of ice cream on this flat metal plate. The cream is then spread on the plate and becomes ice cream that they roll, put in a cup, and serve to their anxious customers. The ice cream was really good! The serving size was big enough to feed all 3 of us (we were also trying to save room for noodles and still full from the dim sum). It tasted like regular ice cream but the whole experience is definitely why it’s worth stopping by.
5th Stop: NOODLES/SOUP
Xiong Cafe – the prices are dirt cheap but the food was amazing. Lindsay made three meals out of her noodle dish!
- Service – The woman at the counter was so friendly and cute. She was very accommodating and helped us with our multitudes of questions in regards to what we should get, how spicy is something, etc. At this restaurant you order at the counter, take a number, and they bring you the food. The food came out shortly after we ordered. The dumplings our friend ordered came out later than the rest of our food, but it was not an issue.
- Atmosphere – Definitely don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This place looks like your average Chinese fast food restaurant. Nothing to brag about, but the food was awesome.
- Food – The three of us ordered the Beef [noodle] Soup, Steamed Vegetable dumplings, Spicy Vegetable Lo Mein, and the Dan Dan Noodles. All of the dishes were great. The beef noodle soup included falling apart beef, your choice of thick or thin noodles, a flavorful broth, and a mixture of spinach and green vegetables. It was delicious and would definitely get it again. The Dan Dan noodles had a peanut flavor and were very good as well. The spicy vegetable lo mein had a good kick to it, but wasn’t too spicy – which Carley likes (very low spice tolerance). Our friend added additional chili sauce to make it EXTRA spicy.
If you are looking for other places to check out, we have also been to some other restaurants in Chinatown that we would DEFINITELY recommend. We also listed some places that are on our list for the next time we go 🙂
- A few months ago we went to Confucius Seafood Restaurant and had the most amazing (not to mention cheap) fried lobster, amongst other things. It is a Cantonese style restaurant.
- If you like Shanghai dumplings (Xiao long Bao), we would definitely recommend going to One Dragon Restaurant for these soup-like dumplings.
- Malaysian food lovers we have two restaurants for you: Banana Leaf (recommended by our friend) and Mamak Malaysian Cuisine
- Shaved ice at Star Snow Ice
- Grab some wonton soup to go from Hong Kong Style Cafe and try their milk tea
- Karaoke at Yes KTV
- Go shopping on Harwin Drive – bargain shopping!!
Can’t wait for our next visit to Chinatown! We are definitely ready for another $25 “foot” massage…
Xo, The Tiny Two