Health Department Roundup

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Operating a restaurant without the proper permits? Forget it, it's Chinatown.
The inspections of the past few days have resulted in just a few more closures/citations than we've seen in recent weeks. Not sure what led to the benevolence, but it might be at an end. This is potentially bad news for restaurants, potentially good news for finicky restaurant patrons, and useful news for health inspection report writers looking for something to write about besides elementary schools and rest homes with really clean kitchens.

Chinatown karaoke joint Melody House (9889 Bellaire) only had one violation, but serving food without any kind of permit is enough to earn a citation. We're kind of curious what the fare was like here - could it possibly compete with some of the other authentic Asian restaurants in the sprawling 9889 strip center? We guess you have to stand out in this setting - Melody House isn't even the only karaoke bar in this complex. One time we drove by the other one - forget the name, but it's smaller, and located downstairs, facing Bellaire - and it appeared a bit less...family friendly. We saw two HPD cops walk inside the place, meet a couple of girls at the door and walk into the back. We didn't have enough cash on us to try to figure out what, if anything, goes on there besides private karaoke.

Saigon Buffet (11360 Bellaire), formerly Korea Garden Grille, got hit hard Friday. The actual service area escaped with a couple minor violations, but the kitchen was bad enough that inspectors temporarily shut the restaurant down. (The inspection was based on a complaint.) Violations included poorly designed or maintained equipment, dirty floors, a lack of 110-degree water, and, best of all, "food not protected from potential contamination by dust/dirt/unclean equipment (and/or) utensils/coughs/sneezes/insects rodents/flooding/drainage/drippage from condensation/overhead leakage/unnecessary handling/toxic materials." Yeah - coughs, sneezes and toxic materials. Looks like the fall of Saigon has begun. Get to the chopper.

We're adding Dollar Value Store (8388 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. S.) to the list of dollar stores that have been busted for selling food without the proper permits. We're still sort of confused about it, to be honest. It might be field trip time soon.

Blessed News of the Week:
If you want some hearty, authentic Italian ("eye-talian") food prepared in a mostly clean kitchen, Olive Garden at 10830 Northwest Fwy. has you covered. A recent inspection revealed raw food stored in improper containers and some equipment was slightly dirty, but those violations were corrected immediately. Frankly, we wouldn't care if they were using rat's milk for the parmesan. Those breadsticks! And those commercials!



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