There Will Be Feasting at Indian Wok

Categories: Restaurant News

indian_wok.jpg
Phaedra Cook
You'll have a hard time seeing this from the 249 feeder road near 1960. Look for the It'z entertainment facility.
When I started questing for great restaurant finds in the Northwest Houston area, high on my priority list was a great Indian lunch buffet. I was used to being able to hit one up inside the Loop at least once every few weeks. The first place I found was a loser, but I struck gold on the second one.

Unless you're familiar with Indo-Chinese fare, Indian Wok's name sounds like one of those dreaded places that do more than one cuisine, and do neither expertly. Do not fear, though. Just think of it as fusion cuisine. You might not know there is a type of wok used in Indian cuisine called a karahi (many variants on this spelling exist).

The food here reminds me of the excellent home-style cooking that a family friend would sometimes invite us over to share. The lunch buffet is $9.99 on weekdays, and a placard under advertised their Grand Weekend Dinner Buffet on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Not many places offer a dinnertime buffet, so this is great to know.

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Phaedra Cook
It's easy to have a family feast at Indian Wok
Indian Wok seems rather small, mostly because they have a big, private, dining room that takes up about a third of the joint. It's also not real attractive inside. Oh, they've tried to spruce it up with better tile and chandeliers, but it still is a strip center location and really looks like it.

Indian Wok is in the same center as the oddly-named "family entertainment" place called "It'z" near the Aerodrome. I never see clientele from It'z come here to eat. It's a shame, because once you've been here a few times, the staff recognizes you on sight. I like those kinds of places.

The lunch buffet is good, but it is the dinner entrees that always make me really happy. They are served in individual bowls so that you can go with several people and share them family-style. The rice is dotted with interesting spices that you may want to avoid, like whole cloves and bay leaves. I am always happy when I see curry leaves in my food, and I eat those up.

They do not hold back on the spice level, and while that thrills my palate, those who don't like hotter items should ask for some guidance. (Chicken Tikka Masala is a good introductory dish if you just want to dip your toe in the water.)

We recently ordered Malabar Fish Curry, which was good and a little tangy, but we've had better at other Houston Indian restaurants. There are better dishes to have here.

If you do like spice and eat meat, get the Lamb Varutha Curry. It is cooked Chettinad style. The cuisine from this region has the hallmark of being pungent and spicy. Everything seems just right about this dish; it's not too hot, and incredibly flavorful without being overwhelming. The portion is right as well, as I usually have some left over.

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Phaedra Cook
Bright-red Manchurian cauliflower gets much of its color from ketchup
The Manchurian cauliflower is bright-red, and believe it or not, most recipes I found use ketchup to get this color. The flavor, though, is nothing like it once it's been seasoned with coriander, ginger and other spices. It's a can't-miss dish, and one that would be appreciated by vegetarians.

The naan (especially the garlic naan) are always good. Like most naan, eat it when it is fresh and hot, or it will toughen as it cools. Still, we ate every slice, even those last pieces.

So, if you're in the area, don't be put off by the lackluster location. This is a hole in the wall that you want to go into.



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Location Info

Indian Wok

18351 Highway 249, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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10 comments
Donovan
Donovan

Have you tried Salt & Chilli 12403 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77014 or Kabob Korner 12228 Antoine Dr. Houston, TX 77066

There's also an Indian restaurant in the Kroger's shopping center at Cypresswood @249 

Corey
Corey

This is the same restaurant that used to be in the Conn's parking lot next to Willowbrook. And while their Vindaloo is quite good, and the buffet before it gets totally destroyed is also quite good, but has always been extremely dirty and poorly kept. Hopefully with a new location they will place more emphasis on keeping it clean, and when I say greasy spoon, I mean you *used* to get a greasy spoon literally. Don't even ask me about their previous locations bathrooms, and normally Indian food is eaten with your hands?!? Yikes..

Corey
Corey

That's Dhakshin (sp?) that place in the Krogers shopping center gave me nasty food poisoning from the buffet..

phaedracook
phaedracook

Thanks for passing that information along. I'm always on the hunt...

I have been to the one in the Kroger's shopping center. I went there for the lunch buffet once and I just wasn't impressed. It's not that it was bad; it was just there.

I will have to track down Salt & Chilli. I love the name, too. Those are two of my favorite things. 

phaedracook
phaedracook

 While I can't say the place is "shiny," I haven't noticed any grime and have NEVER received dirty silverware. If I had, this review would read very differently. Gross.

Corey
Corey

Oh and Karahi (Or Kahari Gohst) is  Pakistani, FYI.. :)

phaedracook
phaedracook

You're digging deep for that one, and I salute you. :) Typical definition: "The actual meaning of korai, karai or karahi is an Indian cooking pot made from cast iron, very similar to a wok. Origins are from the Pakistani Frontier region."

Corey
Corey

 I'm a Klein kid, now a resident of downtown, but still love my NW Houston food scene..

phaedracook
phaedracook

Thank you for the recommendation of La Zeeza! I will definitely check it out. Zeeza is a great name for a cat. I've never considered naming my pets after restaurants before. I could get new tags made, though.

Corey
Corey

 I make it at home, along with pasande often. Next time you're in the area swing down to Fm1960 and falling creek, try the original location of La Zeeza.  Excellent Indo/Pak food, and if they have pasande that day you're in for a treat. I loved that place so much I named my orange cat zeeza..

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