For some reason I expected Mak Chin’s (in Houston, Texas) to serve Vietnamese food, so imagine my disappointment when we sat down, looked at the menu and discovered there was not even one Vietnamese dish listed. I wanted to leave immediately – anyone with a craving knows you can’t substitute – but my husband thought we should stay since we drove in the rain to get there. Yes, break out your violins.
Mak Chin’s did not really serve one type of cuisine but rather a fusion of Asian delights – though none of which were authentic Vietnamese. Most people go to Mak Chin’s to kick back, have a nibble and some alcohol after work; however, the quality of the food stood tall and proud on its own.
Mak Chin’s has evolved over the years and apparently, its table service is much preferred over the previous method where customers would order at the cashier and wait for their food to be served at the table – similar to Pei Wei. With the revision, came increased prices – not to mention the need to add a tip – but better food quality also tagged along so it was all worth it.
Upon entering on a Tuesday night, we noticed the restaurant was empty. It wasn’t the best sign but then again it was raining and it was after 7:30 PM. We sat at a table where one side of the seating was a soft booth and the other was a regular chair – I choose the comfortable booth seat. Almost immediately we were given tall glasses of ice water with lemon – something Americans take for granted but few know that this is not the norm in other countries. The prices were steep so I assumed the portions were large and suggested we share – thank goodness for my accommodating husband that has similar food tastes.
I ordered the vegetable dumplings for my appetizer ($3.50) while my husband ordered the only soup on the menu: hot and sour ($4). He practically gulped all of his soup in record time (while I was just finishing my first dumping) when I noticed his sad puppy-dog eyes looking at me as if he hadn’t been fed in months. He went with his usual line, “Are you going to eat all of your dumplings?” Ladies, that’s code for “I want some of your food, give it to me!” Despite my being just as hungry as he was, I obliged – isn’t that what marriage is all about? Sharing your lives, your house, your dreams, and your dumplings?
My husband is not normally a fan of dumplings – something about being too healthy – but for some reason (hunger, I presume) he was head over heels in love with the vegetable dumpling he ate at Mak Chin’s. The dumplings were served with hot mustard, minced ginger, minced green pepper, and soy sauce with scallions. The accompaniments added the perfect zing to an otherwise bland appetizer.
For our main course we split the Singapore noodles, to which we added chicken (for my husband) and shrimp (for me). We did split this dish 50-50 and despite my not being a curry powder admirer, I truly savored every bite of my noodles. I tasted something sweet mixed in with the curry which I suspected was cinnamon – who knew you could have cinnamon with dinner? I thought this spice was solely reserved for breakfast and desserts but I’m glad it snuck out of the cabinet past its bed time to make a splash in our entrée. For $16 (with the added chicken and shrimp) I think the value was about average but not spectacular for Houston’s inner loop.
After dinner we walked back to the bathrooms which are positioned all the way in the back past the bar area. The lounge consists of a bunch of different funky chairs and tables so each party could have their privacy while still feeling like they were part of Mak Chin’s. There is also an outdoor area for both drinks and meals, but sadly the rain prevented us from eating outside.
The bathrooms had sophisticated, sexy red and gold wallpaper along with modern sinks, and rich wooden doors. No free mints, toothpicks or even business cards were offered, but there were a plethora of advertising magazines – you know the kind that parade around as a health and fitness magazine, but are really just a place plastic surgery ads call home.
Mak Chin’s is a wonderful addition to the Heights; I hope it can tread water during these hard times but I know our stomachs will definitely be helping the economy. If you’re ever in the Houston area, stop by Mak Chin’s located at 1511 Shepherd Drive, Houston, Texas, 77007. Their phone number is 713-861-9888.