Fried Pork Intestines and Other Taiwanese Specialties at Kiki Cafe

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All photos by Mai Pham
Crispy fried pork intestines at Kiki Cafe, a Taiwanese specialty
Last week, when a I took a friend to try authentic Taiwanese food at Kiki Café (9126 Bellaire Blvd at Ranchester, Tel: 713-772-8883), he took one look at the appetizer menu and said "I'm gonna have the fried pork intestines." I looked at him questioningly, thinking he was joking, while he grinned from ear to ear. "Gotta get the weirdest thing on the menu," he said without batting an eyelash.

Gosh, how I love eating with someone who's not afraid to try something new.

Kiki Café is one of those places where you order from the counter, and when I told the Taiwanese owner what my friend wanted to order, it was her turn to smile. "Really?" she asked excitedly. "We make it good for you, don't worry," she said, obviously tickled pink by the fact that the only non-Asian person in the restaurant would be willing to try this rather unusual dish.

When it came out, the golden yellow, crispy fried intestines had been sliced thinly, resembling fried beignets or donuts. The taste, when you bit into it, was mild but had a hint of Chinese spices, and the texture was extra light with a very slight hint of chewiness. It was kind of like a fried calamari, but much thinner and less rubbery in texture, more like fried air. It came with a sweet and salty sauce, similar to a hoisin. And it was pretty awesome, if you like that sort of thing. My friend sure did. "I love it," he proclaimed as he noshed enthusiastically on the intestines.

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Salt and pepper nuggets, one of the most popular dishes at Kiki Cafe
I stuck to the easier stuff, like the salt and pepper nuggets, a Taiwanese version of chicken nuggets, with a dusting of a red pepper powder to give it a slight kick. It was good, but my friend was unimpressed. "It's like something you can get in an American restaurant," he said, preferring to embrace the novelty of something foreign.

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Fried tofu with minced pork, just $2.25
I really enjoyed the large hunk of fried silken tofu topped with minced pork. Crispy on the outside, and meltingly soft on the inside, it was an ideal tofu-lover's dish. "It's okay but I'm used to firmer tofu," my friend said, to which I explained that this was a silken tofu and that was supposed to be more mushy.

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Pork belly rice plate, just $5.95 during lunch, comes with soup and iced jasmine green tea
In addition to the appetizers, we ordered two lunch specials, which came with free self-serve hot and sour soup, and iced Jasmine tea served in plastic bubble tea-type cups. My friend ordered the soy sauce braised pork belly rice plate, which came with bok choy, a hard boiled egg, pickled radish and cabbage. It's hard to get this dish wrong, so of course Kiki got it right. The well braised pork belly chunks were extremely tender and seeped in the braising juices, and "so good," according to my friend.

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Taiwanese noodle with minced pork lunch special, also just $5.95
My dish, a Taiwanese noodle with minced pork, was exactly what I wanted without even knowing it. I'd never tried this type of noodle before, and although the topping was the same topping I'd had on the fried tofu, this was probably my favorite of all the dishes. "I think I like your noodles the best," my friend told me as we surveyed the damage we'd done. The noodles were like a Japanese udon, thick and white, but not as smooth in appearance. The minced pork sauce coated the noodles to perfection, while the parboiled bean sprouts and chives gave some crunchy texture to the noodles.

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Kiki Cafe's interior. Patronage is primarily Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese and Chinese
Yes, we ordered a lot for a simple lunch, but that's part of the adventure when you go to an ethnic restaurant where you're not too familiar with the food. Usually, there are hits and misses while ordering, but at Kiki Cafe, everything was a hit, including the prices. Appetizers rang in at just $2.25-$4.50, while lunch specials were only $5.95-$7.95. And although I was prepared to pay cash, I was happy to find that despite the low prices, they even accept credit cards.



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Location Info

Kiki Cafe

9126 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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19 comments
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CheapEats InHouston
CheapEats InHouston

Great article Mai! You know this is one of my fave places in Little Asia for happy hour. Although it has been some months since I did a daytime happy hour in that area. I think KiKi may still offer small plates for under $4. Not sure if a complimentary coffee, tea, or other beverages are included anymore...it has been some time since my last visit. 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thx! Are you talking about your own "happy hour" because it's so cheap or because they had a "happy hour" in the restaurant?  They didn't tell me anything about that. You get the complimentary Jasmine tea during the weekday lunch specials. The prices are still so reasonable regardless! 

Sophi Z
Sophi Z

I've got a total jones for the salt and pepper nuggets at Kiki Cafe and I love the fried pork intestines too. I like to get them to go and sip rose before I make dinner. And the lunch specials at Kiki are also great, Soup and Jasmine tea with an entre for 5.95. Seriously.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

The salt n pepper nuggets were very popular. Almost every table I saw ordered them! Any other faves on the menu? Pork chop, maybe? I asked one of the people standing in line and she was the one who turned me onto the fried tofu. 

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

Thanks for the post, Mai. This place sounds awesome. Looking forward to trying it out. 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thanks, Ruthie! Always glad to spread the word about really great food. Hope you enjoy it! 

trisch
trisch

Thanks! I'll have to check this out soon. I was recently going through some old family photo albums and it gave me a real craving for some down-home Taiwanese cooking. That noodle dish needs to get into my belly!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I love that the food at Kiki's is very clean. Not too much grease. Just great quality, well-prepared food. The kitchen is manned by the owner and her daughter, so it's definitely down-home. Bon appetit!

Mark W
Mark W

Thanks, I'll be sure to check out this place sometime this weekend. Also, your friend since he's French/Latin American, he should be called as Jacque-Raul or Jorge-François.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I like Jorge-François. :) I don't think the lunch specials run during the weekend, but the entire menu is about $8 or less, so budget-wise you'll be in the same ballpark. I'm actually going back today to try out some more dishes!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

A  note to everyone: this place is closed on Wednesdays. Had to make do with some Dim Sum King, which was thoroughly disappointing. :(

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thanks for the suggestion Sophi!  I go to Ocean Palace all the time - it's great for large groups because the space is so big. Personally I like Fung's Kitchen better, but the wait there is usually quite long on weekends. HK Dim Sum is great mid-week when I get a dim sum craving and is light-years better than Dim Sum King.

Sophi Z
Sophi Z

Okay, I can totally sympathize. Have you ever been to Ocean Palace in Hong Kong City Mall? It's a trek but if you have to settle for dim sum, it's very good. And the trolley ladies are always near. It's a trek down Bellaire but well worth it.

Mark W
Mark W

Haha, someone did not do their homework during the first visitation and ended up with fast food dim sum.

Bruce R
Bruce R

You should give your friend a name.  If he's worried about revealing his identity then give him a code name.

That's right folks, we's usin' code names.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

LOL, when you said code name, "Thorvald" immediately popped into my mind, conjuring up an image of a big blond Nordic food warrior. My friend is French/Latin-American, and dark-haired, so I think I'll name him "Guy," so I can call him "my friend Guy" or "my Guy friend."

Sophi Z
Sophi Z

I love Thorvald as a code name I actually had a student named Thorvald once. He only wanted to go by Thor which he classically pronounced as "tore." I like Guy too especially if he pronounces it "ghee." Hee Hee.

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