Tonight's Chowhound dinner, perhaps the first in Houston of fans of this website, was a success. We met new friends, found a great new restaurant, and exchanged the names of some others.
We met at Taiwanese Cuisine, 9338 Bellaire Blvd (open 11a-930p, 713-773-0888). About 10 of us. I think Avi is the one who found the place. Great job, Avi.
Attending a chowhound's dinner is a relatively safe thing you can do with complete strangers that you met through the internet. First we had to identify each other at the restaurant. This was easy, as most of us weren't Taiwanese. The waiter, Tim, was very helpful in choosing the dishes. This is a self-serve restaurant, with no tipping, but Tim went ahead and served us, anyway.
Here are some of the dishes. I put a star (*) next to my personal favorites.
Marinated seaweed, marinated soybean sprout with green onion*, marinated cucumber, stir fried small dry fish with peanut roasted beef, marinated bean curd, roasted pork liver, roasted pork tongue. I didn't try the last two but most people really liked them.
That's what these are called, I don't know why. We did have some Chinese beer as well as sake that Avi brought, so I guess that made us drinkers.
Deep fried crispy intestine.
Yes we were getting hungry at this point so Tim brought a snack:
Oyster omelette. I enjoyed this.
We had a seafood soup served in a bamboo-shaped bowl. Later with the main course, and outstanding duck soup. One of the chowhounds, who is Vietnamese, told us you don't really eat the duck, since the flavor is pretty much cooked out of it. But the soup was outstanding, with a thick, smooth broth and thin noodles.
The first fish that Stu refers to was Fish with Toban-jan, or Chili bean sauce. It was good. Personally, I liked it, but like the crispy whole fish with bean curd, served at nearby Chinese Cafe, a little better. First of all, the one tonight was tilapia, which I believe is a farm-raised fish, and thus not as flavorful as the grouper which Chinese Cafe uses, when available.
We had two other fish dishes,l both of which were nice. Hot fish filet, and curry fish filet.
Oh yes, the funky bean curd. Funky because it's fermented. Most people at our table tried it, no one seemed to rave about it. The waiter had warned us it smelled terrible, and boy he wasn't kidding. It smelled fecal. Diners nearby told me it was a Taiwanese specialty, this fermented bean curd. We had it fried, with a special salt on the side. The other customers said once you tasted it, the smell went away. Okay.
There were a few more dishes. A stir fried veggie dish. An outstanding stir fried chicken with basil and sliced ginger dish. Others.
The cost, for 10 people was $88. The food was great, the company was great, the waiter was great. The tea is lousy, the bathroom is filthy, so what else is new. I will be back, probably try new dishes, and reorder the chicken with basil and ginger dish.