Where the Chefs Eat: David Cordua, Jonathan Jones, Randy Rucker

Categories: Chef Chat

Thumbnail image for tuna at concepcion.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Tuna crudo by Jonathan Jones of Concepcion, one of Randy Rucker's go-to spots
This week, we check in with three chefs who worked together five years ago: David Cordua, Jonathan Jones, and Randy Rucker. In 2007, Cordua set up a test kitchen to create new dishes for Americas in The Woodlands. Rucker was hired as executive chef of R & D. Jones was hired as executive chef of Americas in The Woodlands, and Cordua was in charge of brand development. The three chefs collaborated during a period marked by what Cordua describes as "boundless creativity."

Let's learn more about their individual, personal tastes when they share their picks for this week's Where the Chefs Eat.

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Photo by Mai Pham
David Cordua of Cordua Restaurant Group
David Cordua
Executive Chef, Cordua Restaurant Group

Standard go-to: Garson on Sundays, great comfortable Persian restaurant on Hillcroft... for their chicken barg, or anything grilled for that matter, basmati rice and sangak bread.

Cheap Eats: Fu Fu Cafe on Bellaire on Mondays. Hot pot cleanses the sins of the weekend. You can do a combo of spicy and regular broth and leave with a wonderful mouth-numbing pepper burn. Don't leave without trying a soup dumpling but remember to let it cool a bit before popping the whole dumpling in our mouth.

Comfort food: Pizza is my comfort. I do a Regina Margherita with an egg at Piola in Midtown...they usually stay open late most nights too.


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Photo by Mai Pham
Jonathan Jones of Concepcion
Jonathan Jones
Executive Chef at Concepcion

Standard go-to: Bon Ga on Long Point. It's the best Korean food I've had in the city. I always get the noodles, or jap chae, and the potato pancakes with squid and pork or kim chi. They have cold noodle soups that are beautiful, and the spicy beef and noodle one is excellent as well. They have Korean barbecue, but I never get it because the other dishes are so good.

Cheap eats: I always get Vietnamese food. I like Thien An Sandwiches in Midtown. The hours are not that regular -- they open early and close early -- but that works out well for me, and their banh xeo is my favorite, super thin and crispy. Teahouse next to Pho Saigon on Milam is another restaurant I go to often. I get the fried taro cake, the wonton noodle soup, the banh mi "dac biet" special with a fried egg.

Late night: Pho Binh by night -- I go there for their pho with bone marrow. I also frequent Tacos Del Julio. They have many locations, but I usually go to the one on Westheimer at Fountainview, which is near my house. It's open until midnight weekdays, and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 3 a.m. I like to get their tacos "tlaquepaque," which are beef tacos covered with a black burnt chili sauce. I like things extra spicy, and that sauce is a like a double or triple burn.


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Photo by Kimberly Park
Randy Rucker of the upcoming Briar and Bramble
Randy Rucker
Chef/Owner of Briar and Bramble (coming this fall)

Standard go-to : Most certainly, it would be Paulie's and Kata Robata, but I have had fantastic meals at Uchi Houston and Concepcion of late.  I don't ever get a chance to look at a menu before they start throwing food at me, but I think Hori-san's chawanmushi [at Kata Robata] is the sexiest dish in town. The texture is incredible, and no matter what he slides in there, it's always a pleasant surprise.  I remember watching Hori-san make a consommé of blowfish bones and skins and being completely amazed at its clarity and more importantly its flavor. JJ's (Jonathan Jones of Concepcion) pozole is always incredible.  I have always said I think JJ makes the best-tasting food in town. 'Ole boy knows how to make "food" taste good.  He does very well with cebiches and tiraditos no matter the seafood involved.  I recently had the braised goat at Concepcion and found "my skirt had been blown up"...

Cheap eats: Most recently (while in Tomball), I have been eating at Phở Thanh Long.


If you missed our previous posts, click below to see more of Where the Chefs Eat:



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Location Info

Americas

21 Waterway Ave., Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Garson

2926 Hillcroft St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Fu Fu Cafe

9889 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Piola

3201 Louisiana St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bon Ga Korean Restaurant

9861 Long Point Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Thien An - CLOSED

2905 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pho Saigon Noodle House

2808 Milam St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tacos Del Julio

5887 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Paulie's

1834 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

3600 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Uchi

904 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Concepcion - CLOSED

819 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pho Thanh Long

21542 State Highway 249, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

PL Teahouse

2808 Milam St., Houston, TX

Category: General

My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
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Chuck
Chuck

Nice elaboration about the "sexiness" of the chawanmushi...I really, really want to watch you eat this dish.

Finestra22
Finestra22

That's true. A few months back he was the owner and chef at a Museum District restaurant that closed before it opened.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

If he sounds like he's trying too hard, it may be my fault. His initial response was literally one or two very curt sentences, so I asked him to inject some personality into his response to make it less dry -- I guess he succeeded.  As for "sexy," what is it about this word that gets people all riled up? I once wrote about Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, calling it "sexy," and the Twitterati had a similar, sort of negative reaction to the word. I think sexy is an apt word to describe the chawanmushi because it encompasses more than the texture. There's also the slightly musky aroma and the response when you eat it. Yes, is incredibly delicate, smooth, silky, but my reaction every time I eat it is practically orgasmic. Hori-san's most recent version, the foie gras and duck chawanmushi, is seriously very, very sexy.

Chuck
Chuck

Haven't tried it, but if you mean a smooth, silky, flan like texture, well then nice. Sexy can mean so many different things to so many different people; a very ambiguous word to describe food. Seems like trying too hard to sound different. Was he flirting with you during this little interview y'all had? Judging by the length of your response, maybe it worked. The skirt blown up thing, yea, yea, I know how he meant it, like I said, trying too hard. As far as blowfish goes, I can't seem to win the lottery, but I would be just lucky enough to be one of the few to wake up dead from eating it.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

It is quite common for chefs to be working on a restaurant project long before it opens and for their name(s) to be associated with said project during the course of its development.  

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Have you tried Hori-san's chawanmushi? It is umbelieveably smooth and yes, sexy. As for the blowfish, I've partaken not once, but twice, and I'm still here to write about it.  Kata Robata is one of 16 restaurants in the entire country licensed to serve tora-fugu (blowfish). The license is granted by a national governing organization that maintains strict standards in order to protect the public. The death rate by tora-fugu is extremely low, and usually happens outside of a restaurant setting, when people who are not properly trained in technique try to eat it on their own. As for the "skirt blown up" it's just a figure of speech; it indicates excitement and is just another way of saying that he really liked it.

Chuck
Chuck

I think Rucker's interview sounds weird, talking about the sexiest dish and his skirt getting blown up...was he lit already? Another thing, I'm a pretty adventurous eater but I'm not taking a chance with blowfish. If the chef does it wrong, then you die while he shrugs his shoulders and says he's sorry.

Guest
Guest

Why is Rucker named as chef/owner of a restaurant that doesn't even exist?  I guess "chef that no one will hire" has a bad ring to it.

Corey
Corey

Thein an's been closed a month or so; suspect they ventured back to SE Asia. I sure miss their bun..

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