Where to Eat at Katy Asian Town Center — By a Resident
Guest writer Thomas Nguyen is a co-founder of South African restaurants Peli Peli and Peli Peli Kitchen. A graduate of Mayde Creek High School, Thomas and his family have lived in Katy since 1979. These days, he resides in Cinco Ranch with his wife, Kristine, and beloved pug, Tyson.
Here’s a frequent comment I get from surprised Houstonians when I bring up Katy Asian Town center: “There’s a Chinatown in Katy?”
Really, it’s fair for those who don’t know to be a little floored by this revelation. It used to be that, in order to get quality Asian cuisine, Katy and West Houston residents would have to drive to “Chinatown”, a six-square mile area roughly bounded by Fondren, Beechnut, State Highway 6 and Westpark.
Thanks to the existence of Katy Asian Town, that’s no longer the case. Located at 23119 Colonial Parkway (the northeast corner of Interstate I-10 and Grand Parkway 99), the multi-use shopping center anchored by H Mart — a vast, 40,000-square-foot location of the Asian supermarket chain — opened in September 2018. The center includes everything from well-known eateries, such as Mala Sichuan and Beard Papa’s (known for its decadent cream puffs), to local Chinatown favorites such as Phanh Ky Asian Noodle House and Gong Cha. Michelin-starred, Hong Kong-based dim sum chain, Tim Ho Wan, is soon opening next door at the Katy Grand Development.
You will likely find me and the Mrs. at any one of the restaurants at Katy Asian Town almost every single weekend. Listed below are my personal favorites including specific dishes you should consider.
Phat Eatery: Owner Alex Au-Yeung and his Malaysian eatery have received a lot of media attention this past year, landing on the “Best Of 2018” restaurant lists at the Houston Chronicle, KPRC and Houston Food Finder, as well as Eric Sandler’s inaugural Top 100 Restaurants list for CultureMap Houston. The two standout items, for me at least, are the Roti Canai and the Kangkung Belacan. The Roti Canai is literally just roti (a flaky flatbread) served with a curry dip. It’s so simple, yet it packs amazing texture and flavor. The Kangkung belacan is a vegetarian dish, and yet you don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate its standout flavor. The dish is a spicy, stir-fried water spinach, but it’s the belacan (shrimp paste) that packs a potent pop of flavor. Good news for fans: Phat Eatery’s expansion to the space next door should be completed by January 2020, and that means shorter wait times for tables.
Eight Turn Crepe: With a wafer crunch both inside the crepe and on the top, the Créme Brûlée Crepe is the highlight of the menu. The crème brûlée itself is excellent and the crepe has a slight sweetness. If you are a fan of having crepes separately, you will enjoy this version, which is made with 100% gluten-free rice flour. Jennifer Bui and her husband, Long Nguyen, are franchisees of the New York-based company.
Hoodadak: If you haven’t had Korean fried chicken before, the major differences between it and the style developed in the United States have to do with it being fried twice, yet still keeping the crust delicate and the meat juicy. Korean fried chicken also has a variety of spices and a glaze. Find Hoodadak’s second outpost in inside of the H Mart Supermarket. (The original is at 1645 Winding Hollow, also in Katy.) The recommended flavors are the sweet & spicy and the honey.
Sul Bing Su: While nearby SomiSomi is known for their taiyaki (soft serve in ornate fish-shaped cones), Sul Bing Su not only offers its own version of taiyaki, but also offers Korean-inspired shaved ice. Consider the Berry Yogurt, which is berries, shaved ice, ice cream and condensed milk. Sul Bing Su isn’t shy with the condensed milk, resulting in a well-balanced mix of all four components.
Yummy Crawfish & Seafood: While Viet-cajun crawfish joints are popping up all over town, one of the few places to get Viet-Cajun crawfish in Katy is Yummy Crawfish & Seafood. The Yummy House Delight flavor, made with buttery Cajun sauce mixed with a signature spice blend, is a must-try. Order the sauce in a separate ramekin so that you can dip your crawfish into it. Owners Tyler Tran and Kevin Dong note that live crawfish is available by mid-October, but the best sizes and shell textures are available starting in mid-January.
85C Bakery Café, 23330 Grand Circle: While technically not at Katy Asian Town, this hugely popular Taiwanese bakery and coffee shop is just across the street at the Katy Grand development. With over 1,000 locations worldwide, this place is like a Willy Wonka factory for savory and sweet baked goods. Walk in, grab a tray, then fill it with as many treats as you are in the mood for. Whatever you order though, make sure you get the egg tarts. 85C is known for its egg tarts and with good reason. These are super-flaky and have just the right amount of sweetness in the custard. Coffee lovers should try the sea salt coffee, which has a touch of salty-sweet goodness that is surprisingly great.