A delightful opportunity to sample sizzling tepanyaki, an excellent mala sichuan pepper noodle soup. terrific spicy dumplings with a group of friends.
John Nechman writes: "Out with my guys, trying out a new ramen joint in the Bellaire Asian District, Toyori (9889 Bellaire). As you would expect in the BAD, leading the delegation was the Mayor of Bellaire himself, Michael Shum, who pretty much knows every person who lives and breathes in this area; and with us were the founder of Houston’s best chocolates, Xocolla, Tony Najjar, looking fit enough to eat; Thomas L Tang, the owner of Houston’s best ramen joint Samurai Noodle (1801 Durham); the inimitable Jay P. Francis; and Tony’s very fit trainer, Triet.
We dined on much of the menu, from caramelized cauliflower to shrimp tempura to ika gesso karaage (deep fried squid tentacles). The latter had excellent texture though Thomas was able to point out flaws in the fry. The best of the appetizers were plump, juicy steamed dumplings in a Sichuan style chili oil.
For entrees, only Jay and I went with ramen, and both of us were pleased. My tonkotsu black garlic was savory and full of minced garlic—a very satisfying bowl. Most of the table ordered the restaurant’s impressive sizzling plates. I sampled the rib-eye steak plate and the short rib steak—definitely go with the former. The steak was delicious and flavorful, whereby the ribs were disappointingly tough. They come with flavored noodles, a side of veggies, a fried egg, and your choice of sauce. Pescatarian Tony and Triet ordered the fried fish plate, and both left little for Mr. Manners.
The sizzling plates are massive and at around $17, are an excellent deal. The ramen won’t cause you to reshuffle your favorites list, but it is very good—but if you haven’t been to Thomas Tang’s Samurai yet, you haven’t yet been to the best place in town. An extra word for the “Butter Beer,” a non-alcoholic concoction similar to cream soda and topped with an indecent amount of whipped cream—sort of like a root beer float that’s melted. I’d order it again.
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