Top 10 Restaurants in Chinatown
7. Saigon Pagolac
Photo by Groovehouse Bo 7 mon, or beef seven ways, at Saigon Pagolac.
This is where the Asian community goes for "Vietnamese fajitas," beef seven ways and crispy, whole-fried catfish. At Saigon Pagolac, you cook your own tenderloin slices on a miniature black cast-iron skillet heated by a butane-fired tabletop cooker. The steak is served with chopped vegetables and exotic herbs that exude flavors of mint, licorice, cinnamon and pepper. And if you're a pescatarian, you'll want to order an entire one of Saigon Pagolac's crunchy-skinned, nearly caramelized catfish for yourself.
6. Pho Ga Dakao
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Pho ga with everything at Pho Ga Dakao.
Pho Ga Dakao is on the sleepier end of Chinatown, but that doesn't stop this pho ga (chicken soup) joint from being packed every day of the week. It's open late on the weekends and even for breakfast -- any time is a good time for the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup, after all. Stick with the pho ga here; 11 different combinations are available, but the "Dakao chicken rice noodle soup special" with everything (including hearts, gizzards, livers and tripe) is the most flavorful and one of the most popular orders. Slurping up the chicken-based soup, you'll see the base for the matzah ball pho that Eatsie Boys Cafe is currently serving to great acclaim.
5. Fu Fu Cafe
Photo by Troy Fields You can get your soup in a bowl or in a dumpling at Fu Fu Cafe.
Robb Walsh said it best back in 2007, when the Houston Press gave Fu Fu Cafe the Best of Houston® award for Best Dumplings:
Fu Fu's awesome soup dumplings appear on the menu disguised as "A26 Steam Pork Bun (4) $2.50." The only way to appreciate the true genius of the soup dumpling is to burst the whole thing in your mouth. That way, the soup combines with the soft dough and the loose meatball to form a wonderfully slurpy bite of soup, meat and dough. By all means try them, but remember they come to the table extremely hot. Wait until they cool! Fu Fu's Beijing-style pan-fried pork dumplings are long rectangles with open ends that look like miniature hot dogs. Fresh out of the pan, when the thick dough is crispy on the bottom and noodle-soft on the top, these are sensational. But if you are looking for something else in a dough wrapper, Fu Fu Café has ten other varieties to choose from, including chicken dumplings, pan-fried pork buns and mushroom dumplings.
Fu Fu is also another late-night dining favorite; it's open until 4 a.m. on the weekends and 2 a.m. the rest of the week.
4. Sushi Miyagi
Photo by Troy Fields Miyagi presents a platter of his sashimi at Sushi Miyagi.
Don't be fooled by appearances: Sushi Miyagi, though nondescript from the outside, hosts an amazing, authentically Japanese restaurant inside. Miyagi, the sushi chef and owner, has honed his craft over 30 years and serves up both traditional Japanese dishes like stellar agedashi tofu as well as more American treats like giant hand rolls. The sashimi here is similarly wonderful, with fresh fish flown in twice a week. And lunch specials -- which extend even to Saturday -- are a great time to get your Japanese fix without blowing the bank. Just don't expect a quick meal; Miyagi and his elderly wife are the only employees here, so be prepared take your time.