14 Must-Try Asian Restaurants in Houston
While Houston has plenty of award-winning chefs and restaurants, diners keep special places in their hearts for mom-and-pop shops. These independently owned businesses often offer a whole lot of value for the money, too. Give us your thirsty, your hungry, your huddled-masses yearning to eat good food — there is room for “all things food” here in our great Bayou City.
Some of Houston’s best Asian restaurants especially fit the mom-and-pop-shop definition. Here are 14 essential examples of those restaurants with must-try dishes in Houston, organized by neighborhood.
Two Bowls Bun Bo Hue, 13080 Bellaire: Drive a bit further west on Bellaire and you’ll find the most satisfying bowl of Bun Bo Hue in Houston. The menu is simple: Bun Bo Hue and egg rolls. The stock for this lemongrass-infused soup is made with beef and pork bones for a rich, fatty stock. Included are rice noodles, slices of beef, beef tendon, cha lua (Vietnamese steamed pork), tender trotter and huyet (pig blood cubes). The soup is garnished with fresh Thai basil, thinly sliced red cabbage, sprouts and a lime wedge. The young ladies behind Two Bowls competed in the annual Banh Mi Cookoff a few years back and walked away with the top prize for their take on a Bun Bo Hue Dip Sandwich.
Whether you call it Chinatown, Asiatown or even just “Bellaire,” the area surrounding Bellaire and Beltway 8 has the highest concentration by far of remarkable and affordable Asian cuisine.
Anna Thai Food (inside Hong Kong City Mall), 11201 Bellaire: Anna Thai offers one of the most authentic menus of its kind in Houston. The tiny food stand is inside the food court section of the Hong Kong City Mall. It is packed at lunch time and since the arrival of Uber Eats and DoorDash, business really flourished beyond the daily regulars. All dishes are served in to-go packaging — and remember to order a bottle of water along with your meal because you’ll need it! Try the Larb Salad with minced chicken tossed in roasted rice powder, red onions, mint, cilantro and a spicy lime dressing that has quite a kick. The Pad Thai and Pad Kra Pow (minced pork stir-fried with long beans, holy basil and peppers) are delicious as well. The adventurous eater may wish to order from the designated “Thai Style” menu to try dishes not found on Americanized menus. There is also a little market with Thai goodies and snacks at the front counter.
Banh Cuon Thien Thanh, 11210 Bellaire: For over 20 years, Thien Thanh has been cranking out steamed rice flour crepes stuffed with minced pork and wood-ear mushrooms. Banh Cuon is one of those delicate dishes that seems so simple, yet takes years of honing skills for perfect execution. Order the Banh Cuon Thit with Cha Lua, the most basic version made with pork and mushrooms served with a side of steamed pork ham. The Bun Cha Hanoi is also a great choice, with loads of fresh Vietnamese herbs, vermicelli and a chargrilled pork meatball in a savory broth. The Cha Ca Thanh Long (turmeric dill fish) on a sizzling plate is a unique Vietnamese dish that can only be found in a few places in Chinatown. Before you go, hit the ATM: Thien Thanh is cash only.
Cajun Kitchen, 6938 Wilcrest: Viet-Cajun crawfish has been all the rage over the past few years, and Cajun Kitchen serves up a top-notch version with its Kitchen Special blend of herbs, spices and citrus in the boil. Chef-owner John Nguyen often sources from other regions of the country during the off-season to ensure his guests always have fresh and not frozen crawfish. The menu offers a variety of other seafood too: king crab, blue crab, jumbo shrimp and mussels are also available to be tossed in any of the house sauces. Order the chargrilled Oysters Vietnam and thank us later.
Crown Seafood Restaurant, 10796 Bellaire: Despite its name, Crown Seafood offers much more than just fish and shellfish. Dim Sum reigns supreme here, and it is reliable and affordably priced all day, everyday. Pick up plates of Char Siu Bao (steamed bbq pork buns), Siu Mai (pork shrimp open-faced dumplings), Har Gow (crystal shrimp dumplings) and Cheung Fun (steamed rice flour rolls). Its crowning achievement is the Fried Egg Roll. The unexpected filling of meat, black fungus and other ingredients is almost gravy-like. It’s incredibly delicious, hot and crispy!
FuFu Café, 9889 Bellaire: Located in Dun Huang Plaza and squeezed between two other Chinese joints, FuFu serves consistently good food that leaves you happy and full. You may have to raise a hand once in awhile for a re-fill but the restaurant is clean and the pork pan-fried dumplings are delicious. Family Style dining is the best way to eat here. Order the Hot Spicy Chicken with dried chili peppers and fresh jalapenos sautéed with chicken breast, the Salt-Toasted Pork Ribs that are just the right balance of salt and spice and the Sizzling Black Bean with Mixed Seafood is full of squid, shrimp, fish and crabmeat. There’s ample parking in the shared lot, and many cool dessert and tea shops are just a quick walk down the sidewalk.
Mein, 9630 Clarewood: Mein, the name of which means “noodle”, does much more than that and does it very well. Chef-restaurateur Mike Tran has conquered the Bellaire food scene with offerings ranging from Korean (Ohn Eatery) and Thai (Night Market Thai), to ramen (Tiger Den), udon (Ishin) and even coffee (BLKDog Coffee). Mein offers one of the best Cantonese menus in Houston. Groups of all sizes flock to this restaurant for delicious, family-style meals that include what the menu calls “everyday food” such as Char Siu BBQ Pork, Mapo Tofu and Crispy Duck. The House Wonton Noodle Soup is the one must-have item on the extensive menu. Its blend of Chinese and Vietnamese components and flavors is what makes it a truly special bowl.
The Blind Goat (inside Bravery Chef Hall), 409 Travis: This Vietnamese gastropub, helmed by Masterchef Season 3 winner Christine Ha, is taking chances. It’s paying off as it earned a recent three-star nod from award-winning Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook, which is sure to draw droves of curious diners. Unique items include Vietnamese Pork Belly Pizza, a local street favorite in Saigon. It features generous hunks of tender pork belly, egg, pickled carrots and daikon and a housemade sate mayo. There is also Beef Carpaccio: paper-thin slivers of beef that are hand-torched and then tossed in a spicy citrus sauce (that packs a helluva punch) along with fresh herbs, corn nuts and peanuts. Ha’s famous Rubbish Apple Pie is an absolute must-order with its caramel sauce brilliantly spiked with not-your-average-apple-pie spices.
Huynh Restaurant, 912 St. Emanuel: For over a decade, Huynh has delighted guests with a traditional Vietnamese menu that includes pho, hu tieu, bun and plenty of appetizers and extras. It’s hard to recommend one place that does everything well, but Huynh is an exception. Cindy Dang and her family make it a point to keep things authentic and simple. The menu rarely if ever changes, and the offerings are what you’d typically find in fully fledged Vietnamese restaurants (as opposed to pho-specific restaurants). The traditional rice paper Egg Rolls are dainty and delicious, the nuoc mam sauce is just right and proteins for vermicelli bowls are seasoned perfectly, with presentations that are thoughtful and welcoming. The Bo Luc Lac is just the way it should be, with the beef at medium rare. The pho broth is consistently on-point, aromatic and satisfying. The true star at Huynh is the Goi Vit (duck salad) with crunchy shredded red and green cabbage, pickled onions, Vietnamese herbs and strips of duck meat drizzled with a tangy ginger sauce.
Samurai Noodle, 1801 Durham and 24025 Katy Fwy (in Katy): Owner Thomas Tang is passionate about his ramen, and it shows in every single one of his bowls. Noodles are made onsite and guests can view the process through a window at the Heights location. The Tonkotsu is made with deep, rich pork broth and served with thin, firm straight noodles topped with scallions and pork belly. For a more adventurous experience, try the Tsukemen, in which ramen noodles are served alongside a bowl of broth, allowing guests to taste each glorious component separately. The Kinoto Shouyu is a beautiful bowl of ramen presented with king trumpet, beech and button mushrooms sautéed with butter and topped with negi (green onions) and a slice of pork belly. A personal favorite has always been the Garlic Hakata Noodles, served without broth and accompanied by a side of shredded chicken and topped with housemade chili oil sate. True ramen lovers will appreciate the texture, bite and snap of these noodles.
Phat Eatery (at Katy Asian Town Center), 23119 Colonial Parkway: Phat Eatery opened in the Katy Asian Town Center development in 2018 and has since won many accolades and awards, making it a fan favorite amongst foodies. Owner Alex Au-Yeung wanted a casual, hip, Malaysian street stand-inspired restaurant with an authentic menu that still left room for creativity. Try the Hainese Chicken & Rice, which is beautifully presented and served with a small pot of fragrant ginger-infused jasmine rice, or the Sizzling Tofu, which is made in-house daily. The combination of soft, silky egg tofu, crispy outer skin and savory sauce is an exquisite juxtaposition of textures and flavors. Phat stands out for more than just the food, too, because the management and staff are incredibly attentive and accommodating. That high level of service, along with the food, makes each visit to the restaurant a memorable experience.
Roostar Vietnamese Grill, 1411 Gessner and 5551 Richmond (Galleria): Owner-operators Ronnie and Linda Nguyen represent the next generation of restaurateurs. Their keen eye for branding, building a culture and simply making good, affordable food is unarguable, as is their spirit and steadfast commitment to guest service. That being said, their food is also legit. The Gogi Chopped Ribeye Banh Mi and Grilled Pork Banh Mi, made with bread sourced locally from Slow Dough Bakery, are favorites, along with the Alphabet Beef Noodle Soup. Roostar is also a very popular caterer. The second location in the Galleria area also offers local craft brews on tap.
KIN, (inside Politan Row food hall), 2445 Times: Chef Evelyn Garcia’s Southeast Asian inspired menu is succinct and succulent, offering a well-curated selection of curries, appetizers and small bites inside Houston’s latest chef-driven food hall, Politan Row. The former Chopped winner has a gift for curries and sauces and serves one of the tastiest Chu-Chee Thai curries in the city, made with poached shrimp, bok choy and fresh kaffir lime leaves. The flavors are simple, yet bold. Other menu standouts include the BBQ Brisket Roti, served with a generous mound of braised brisket and drizzled with housemade Asian barbeque sauce and turmeric aioli, and the spicy Mango Papaya Salad, hand-tossed and prepared to order. Garcia is also committed to sourcing ingredients from local farmers and purveyors for her dishes.
Hu’s Cooking, 2502 West Holcombe: There is not a shortage of Szechuan options in the city. However, Hu’s Cooking is a unique find for its West University neighborhood. The restaurant declares itself “fusion Chinese”, but the menu leans more towards Szechuan. Quintessential dishes include Spicy Fried Chicken (with epic amounts of dried chili peppers), Sautéed Cumin Lamb and a fabulous rendition of the traditional Dan Dan noodle. If you’re up for something different yet equally delicious, try the Eggplant stir-fried in a savory caramel sauce or the Fried Intestine with Chili Pepper that makes for a crispy snack.