Monday, July 07, 2008

Chinatown Crawl Part 2 - Sichuan Cuisine, Jungle Cafe

After soup dumplings and other dishes at three restaurants, the Chinatown crawl was beginning to slow to a crawl. We needed a lift.

Chinatown coffee

Somehow, we stumbled into a gourmet food store that sold vacuum-packed duck tongue. They also had this coffee-making contraption:

The proprietor explained that she about to open a coffee store on the south side of Bellaire. Her coffee had steeped overnight. She gave us free (!) samples.

It was amazing. A simple cold, espresso-sized cup of coffee held some of the richest and smoothest coffee I have ever tasted. It was a strong, concentrated coffee without any acidity or bitterness.

I can't wait for her new cold-press coffee store when it opens in Chinatown.

Feasting at Sichuan Cuisine

After our pause from eating, and a little lift, we were ready for more food. When Jenny took us to Sichuan Cuisine, we lost our dumpling focus. We had to try some of the famously spicy food.

Jenny procured us a few plates of cold appetizers. These included sliced beef and mow, pork nose and pork ear:

The nose had been smoked, presumably in something like hickory wood. It had a nice, barbecue flavor. The ear was a little stranger, with a rubbery texture and an odd flavor. Even an adventurous eater as She eats could not handle it. I could stomach it, but I much preferred the snout.

Soon, we had a spicy plate of kung pao duck tongue with green onions and jalapenos:

I was surprised that duck tongue contains such a large bone. But the little tongues were delicious and spicy.

At that point, the dishes started flying out of the kitchen and spinning around our lazy susan:

We had boiled sliced fish in spicy sauce, congquin chicken, fried tofu, double-cooked pork, green beans with ground pork, and tea-smoked duck.

Many of the dish involved sichuan peppercorns. To my tongue, these are not so much spicy as taste-bud deadening. By the time I finally tried a soup dumpling, my taste buds were toast. My guess is that these soup dumplings would come in a close second to Fu Fu.

From pig nose to duck tongue to wierd peppercorns, Sichuan Cuisine is one of the strangest wonders of the Houston food scene. I need to go back to fully appreciate it.

On this Sunday, after three previous restaurants, it was a blur -- much like the 16th wine you try at a wine tasting. I had lost all discernment.

Cake at Jungle Cafe

Just as Charlie Bucket and his father surreptitiously left Willy Wonka and the group to try fizzy lifting drinks, Anonymous Child and I wandered away from the rest of the group to try Jungle Cafe, which Misha recently reviewed.

Jungle serves perhaps the prettiest and most artistic little cakes in Houston. This is the lemon/chocolate cake that Anonymous Child ordered. She loved it.

I only managed to get a small bite.

But by that point, I could not have eaten even a wafer-thin mint.


Misha said...

I am at Sichuan Cuisine at least once a month, if not more. No better way to each Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Those duck tongues were seriously awesome. I can't stop talking about how good they were, and my friends and family are totally sick of hearing it now! :)

The pig's ears however... Yeah.

I can't wait for that coffee shop to open. That is going to be a really neat, different experience. Not to mention the fact that her coffee was amazing.

Anonymous said...

great end to the chinatown run!
i am not the biggest fan of sichuan food but i appreciate what Sichuan Cuisine brings to Houston- they do spicy the right way! :)

i'm glad jungle cafe is still around- i love their mango cake- their creations remind me of those cute french patisseries.

neverfull said...

i've been trying to figure out what mow is. i've googled it with no luck. maybe one of your readers will know?

fyi, duck tongues weren't cooked kung pao style (no peanuts). just stirfried with green onions and jalapenos.

i liked the pig ears but i grew up eating them. maybe randy's pig ears will be better on thursday?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way...Mr Creosote? You rock. :)

tram said...

everyone (including my family) raves about the mango cake from Jungle. i don't think it's THAT good. the best part is the mango; the cake is nothing special.

but the napoleons from Maureen's Bakery in Sugarland? MMMM! better than paris. =)

Anonymous said...

Such a delight to find a fun Houston food blogger because I'm always looking for new places to try out and want to find out as much info on a new place before I eat there.

I heart food!

Anywho, not sure if you knew about this and I thought about you and your blog since Houston's restaurant week is coming up in another month. I figured I would pass the info on to you so when the time comes, you can eat your heart out, give more awesome reviews and also benefiting a good cause.

take care!

Fulmer said...

I hope we will see more of Anonymous Child at future crawls/events. She's a total delight. Cold pressed coffee?!? Sooo good!

Anonymous said...

Dear all,

The Cafe La Tea now is opened and we do have the ice drip coffee in the store. I am here to invite you to come again to check out our wonderful coffee and desserts.

Our address: 9102 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77036
Thank you for loving our product!

Cafe La Tea

Anonymous said...

For addition, here is the web site for Cafe La Tea. Once again please come check out the store.

Cafe La Tea

Elliott Broidy said...

It looks superb.