Dining out in Houston, Texas is not all steak, texmex, and barbeque, though Houston has a variety of goof places to eat those traditional kinds of Texas cuisine. Here are some nontraditional eating places in Houston.
Khyber Grill North Indian Cuisine
To my mind, Khyber Grill has some of the best tandoori (Indian style barbeque) west of New Delhi. Tandoori consists of chunks of chicken, lamb, or seafood stuck on skewers and roasted in a deep oven made of clay. The garlic spiced Chicken Afghani if a personal favorite, though the Chicken Tikka, and the lamb is also tasty. Khyber Grill also offers a variety of curry dishes, some vegetarian dishes, and naan (the succulent Indian bread cooked in the tandoori oven), and a shake like drink called lassi, which is made from yogurt.
Hans Mongolianand Kublai Khans
Hans Mongolian and Kublai Khans are the two Mongolian barbeque places in Houston. Hans Mongolian is in Clear Lake, about five minutes from the Johnson Space Center, and Kublai Khans is in northwest Houston. Each place approaches Mongolian barbeque (which is neither Mongolian or barbeque) in its own, distinct manner.
At Hans Mongolian, after a few Chinese style appetizers, one goes into a cafeteria style line to fill a bowl up with various meats, vegetables, spices, and sauces. Then one hands the bowl to a chef who stir fries the contents on a large griddle that is supposed to be in the shape of a Mongol shield, and then serves it up.
The system at Kublai Khan’s is more complicated. One writes on a plastic card with a magic market what sort of noodles, bread, etc one wants, then gets into line to fill up various bowls with meats, spices, herbs, oils, vegetables, and sauces, which are then combined and stir fried. The variety of food is much greater at Kublai Khan’s, but both places are excellent eateries.
Niko Nikos is one of the oldest and best Greek restaurants in Houston. It started as a walk up window with some picnic tables. It is now a bustling, cafeteria style eatery that serves up gyros, kababs, Mousaka, pistachio (a kind of Greek lasagna), and a variety of combo dishes sea food, sandwiches, appetizers, and other delights for the palette.
Houston has a large Vietnamese community and it is reflected in some of the excellent Vietnamese restaurants in the city. One of the best is Mais, which serves a variety of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. A personal favorite is pho tai, a soup consisting of slices beef, rice noodles, and a side of spring rolls wrapped in lettuce and dipped on fish sauce. There is also a large variety of chicken, beef, pork, sea food, and vegetarian dishes.
Sources: The Finest North Indian Food in East Texas, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, March 6th, 2006
Hans Mongolian Wok, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, March 10th, 2006