December 1, 2018

Vietnamese - Nam Giao Vietnamese Restaurant - A Real Houston Treasure - Slightly Under the Radar

One of the men's fitness and health magazines used to have a series called "eat this, not that" and I always thought it would be cool, when reviewing an ethnic restaurant to follow the same tack and recommend a group of dishes that a first time visitor could order with confidence.

A few days ago, my buddy, Will Springfield 
lucked into meeting a person who gave him a list of favorite Vietnamese restaurants and recommendations on their specialties.

Houston Vietnamese Restaurants Map - Some Favorites

Today saw a visit to Nam Giao on Wilcrest. Nam Gio specializes in the regional dishes of central Vietnam. I had been there a few years back and somehow, it fell off my radar even though I absolutely loved everything I had on the menu.

Here is the magic list that Will got:

So today, Will, Gary, Evren and I met up for a lunch. We went with the house specialties, as recommended on this list and by the lovely lady who attended out table. Here follow photos to whet your appetite. 

You will have a great meal here. Just let the staff guide you.

Here is what the table looked like after we four hungry guys finished with it:

And here are some fun shots of our lunch together:

Pizza - El Canton Pizzeria - Jalisco Style Thin Crust Pizza

March 2022: I have learned that El Canton on Mason Road has closed. But check out the commentary and links on this page.

In parts of Mexico, a super thin crust pizza has taken over as the local pizza style of choice. I used to joke that "they beat every air bubble out of the dough before it goes into the oven". It's an almost matzoh cracker like pizza crust.

But over time, I have actually come around to this pizza style and now I like it. Or at least, don't freak out when one is served to me in Mexico. The first time that I saw them pounding down the dough with a rolling pin, at a little restaurant on the west coast of Oaxaca, I probably was observed doing a slow motion "Nooooooooooooooooo". And truthfully, the pizza that night wasn't very good. But since then, I have had some terrific pizzas in CDMX, in Puebla and in Oaxaca along this theme and I now "get it".

El Canton does this style of pizza very well.

And about once a month, I crave it so badly that I make the trek out from our home in the Heights (Woodland Heights) to Mason Road for one. My favorite is the Sayulita (see menu). They feature specials throughout the week. The staff is very friendly.

On a recent visit, they brought foccaccia to my table and two house made salad dressings. Feeling adventurous I tried some of the house dressings on the focaccia and loved it ("hey, those are for the salads!"). I even tried my pizza with some and the combo worked, though it will probably get me blacklisted from whatever purist Italian pizza association that might learn of my indiscretion.

Anyway, here are some fun photos from my visit. I do highly recommend El Canton. Just go there knowing that a Jalisco pizza is different from what you may have had elsewhere.

But first, read this article by Mike Riccetti:
Pizza in America - A Brief History

Cheap Eats Houston - The Giant Shrimp Egg Rolls at Ambassador Chinese Restaurant on Richmond

I've posted elsewhere on the Ambassador. But I wanted to also do a shout out under my Cheap Eats category as two of these enormous egg rolls are a meal. About five dollars plus tax and tip. There's sweet sauce and Chinese mustard on the table for them.

Chinese - The Ambassador Chinese Restaurant - A Time Warp on Richmond Avenue

Let me tell you about my own personal favorite hangout. 

The Ambassador Chinese Restaurant is located on Richmond just next to the Rajun Cajun. 

There is no question that there are better Chinese restaurants in town. No argument here. But sometimes, it isn’t just about the food. And I promise you, for an all around fun experience you can't beat Ambassador. 

(Because sometimes, one just craves a simple but perfectly executed chicken chow mein with lots of vegetables!)

It is like taking a time machine back to the 50's. You walk in, and you'll hear Frank Sinatra playing through the stereo system. The waitresses are adorable. They have been serving customers there for years, and if you say something that gets them to give a nervous laugh, they will cover their mouth with their hands. It’s kind of like trying to get the guards at Buckingham Palace to crack a smile. But in a good way. They are real sweet-hearts. On some nights you might see a group of WWII veterans hanging out at their own table. Or ladies from the River Oaks crowd. Or hipsters. And old white guys like me.

The food is Cantonese and it is the Cantonese that used to be all that you could find in Houston when I was growing up in the 50's. 

The egg foo yung is crazy. When it comes out you will swear they brought you a giant chicken fried steak. 

The egg rolls are super sized, probably the biggest ones in town. 

The hot and sour soup is just perfect with the right amount of rice wine vinegar to white pepper. 

And yes, there's even a great typo on the menu (Human beef instead of Hunan beef). 

If you have an opportunity to talk to the owner, she is an absolute delight and will share wonderful stories about the Ambassador over the years. 

Yep, for me, it's the Ambassador. I recommend staying with the tried and true Cantonese dishes: sweet and sour pork, egg rolls, egg foo yung, a chicken with vegetables stir fry and on the side a big bowl of egg drop soup or (not Cantonese) hot and sour.

Ambassador Chinese Website

Some photos for you:

The giant, shrimp eggrolls.

Louisiana! (I See An Awesome Road Trip to Our Neighboring State in Your Future)

Some of the best day trips and two day trips out of Houston are to Louisiana. Boasting over 400 festivals a year, Lousiana is so much more than New Orleans. I love excursions to the Cajun country. Here are links to several parishes with information on events, dining, et. al. for you courtesy of the Lousiana Office of Tourism. Lake Charles, for example, is not that far away. Most of these parishes are within 4-5 hours drive time, which for us Texans, is nuthin'.

Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana

Ascension Parish, Lousiana
Contact: Tracy Browning at

Lake Charles
Contact: William Precht at

Houma, Lousiana
Contact: Joni Duet at

St. Tammany Parish (aka - Louisiana North Shore)
Contact: Tanya Leader at

Cajun Country - Lafourche and More

Abbeville - And Shucks Restaurant

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Contact: Christy Chachere Lohman at


Now... We can't forget New Orleans. French Market Coffee has been in business in New Orleans for more than 120 years, starting in 1890 as a small business between two families that sold their coffee in the French market. They have created a walking tour that brings you to a few historic spots in the French Quarter that have a history of serving French Market Coffee.

French Market Coffee Walking Tour

My fellow Houston blogger friend, Mila, writes about her road trip to New Orleans here:
Mila's Road Trip to New Orleans

New Orleans Restaurant Recommendations -
Recently, a member of the Facebook Group, Houston Foodie Friends, requested recommendations for New Orleans. Here follows a short list of the responses. Further information can be found by doing your web search.

Elizabeth’s Restaurant – Breakfast and Brunch (Praline Bacon)
GW Fins Seafood Restaurant – 808 Bienville Street
Palace Café Cajun and Creole Restaurant– 605 Canal Street
Mother’s Cajun and Creole Restaurant – Cafeteria Style (Baked Ham)
Acme Oyster House – 724 Iberville Street
Arnaud’s and the French 75 Bar – 813 Bienville Street
Crawfish Monica – 698 Saint George Avenue
Daisy Duke’s Restaurant – 121 Chartres (Late Night Meals)
Mr. B’s Bistro – Royal Street (BBQ Shrimp)
Bistro Daisy – 5831 Magazine Street
Angelo Brocato – (Gelato)
Coquette New Orleans – 2800 Magazine Street
Manchu Food Store – 1413 N Claiborne Street (Fried Chicken Wings)
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Bevi Seafood – 236 N Carrollton Avenue
Herbsaint Restaurant – 701 St. Charles Avenue
Deanies Restaurant
Cane and Table Restaurant
The Original Pierre Maspero’s Cajun and Creole Restaurant
Jacques-Imo’s Cajun and Creole Restaurant – 8328 Oak Street
August Restaurant – 301 Tchoupitoulas Street (Tasting Menu)
Restaurant R’evolution – 777 Bienville Street
Cochon Butcher – 930 Tchoupitoulas Street
Luke Restaurant – 333 St. Charles Avenue
Crawfish King – 2106 Idaho Avenue in Kenner, Louisiana

New Orleans - Recommendations for the 11 "best" restaurants for fried chicken in New Orleans
by Brett Anderson at for The Times-Picayune

Cafe 615 Home of Da Wabbit, 615 Kepler Street
Come Back Inn, 8016 W. Metairie Avenue (in Metairie)
Crabby Jack's, 428 Jefferson Highway
Dooky Chase's, 2301 Orleans Avenue
High Hat Cafe, 4500 Freret Street
Li'l Dizzy's, 1500 Esplanade Avenue
Marjie's Grill, 320 S. Broad Street,
Neyow's Creole Cafe, 3332 Bienville Street
The Original Fiorella's Cafe, 5325 Franklin Avenue
Rosedale, 801 Rosedale Drive
Willie Mae's Scotch House, 2401 St. Ann Street

BOUDIN: Sources for Boudin in Louisiana