April 28: Vieng Thai

Sundays are usually our errand day and today was like no other.  We have been searching for patio furniture for a while now.  With the weather warming up, I really wanted to start decorating our patio so that we could hang out there.  I was imagining reclining back in my chair with a nice glass of wine in my hand, my dog in my lap and listening to music flowing gently from the nice wireless speaker we got at the wedding.

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Well, it’s still a work in progress, but while we were out shopping, it was getting close to dinner time and we didn’t know where to eat.  I pulled out my trusty phone and settled on Vieng Thai.  It got really good reviews on Yelp so why not.  It was less than 2 miles away and most of the reviewers posted photos and the food looked really good.

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If you know Houston, Vieng Thai is located on Long Point in the ghetto part north of I-10 between Antoine and Silber.  As you can see from the photos I took, it’s not exactly a “fine dining” establishment.  Nonetheless, the outside has never deterred us from visiting.  We walked inside and was pleasantly surprised by the nice family atmosphere.  There weren’t that many people there but everyone who was there seemed really nice and the staff was even nicer.

After looking over the menu, we disregarded all the “tips” we saw on Yelp and ordered the Chicken Panang Curry and the Tofu Basil Delight. Chad also really wanted me to try the fish cakes here since that’s something very traditional in the Thai culture.

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The fish cakes were very good.  It reminded me a lot of the traditional Vietnamese fish cakes that we use with our rice noodle soup.  The Chicken Panang Curry was DELICIOUS.  I don’t know if I was just hungry or if it was the sauce (Chad would argue that it’s the sauce) but I have never had anything that tasty before in terms of curry.  As for Chad’s tofu, it was ok.  I’m not a fan of tofu and it was good, but I wouldn’t choose to eat it.  🙂 Chad said he liked it but he also adds “I have very low standards and I think everything is good.”  haha.  I’d recommend the Chicken Panang Curry.  I knew it was good when I almost finished and thought “ooh, I better let him eat some first before I eat it all.”  Once Chad had the first bite, his eyes lit up and he said, “Holy shit… that’s good!” hehe.  Yup, my dish is good.

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April 27: Bellaire Coffee Shop

Bellaire Coffee Shop is like a local institution.  This place has been around for ages and you can tell by the clientele when you walk in.  The establishment is dated, but kept up and every time we go there, we are probably the youngest by at least 30 years.  Sometimes, we’ll find other younger folks in the restaurant but most of the time, it’s the older folks who have been coming for years.  They all sit there and talk to each other and the owner knows most of them by name.  In fact, when one of his patrons passed away, he had a plaque made for the guy and fixed it to the counter chair that his patron used to sit at every weekend.  How cool is that? How can you not want to go to a place “Where friends meet to eat”??

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Anyway, here’s a photo of the owner.  I’m not sure he recognizes us yet but his waitress does.  The past few times we’ve been, we always sit at the bar but this time, it was packed so we sat in a booth.

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I think it’s so neat that he doesn’t act like an owner.  He stayed there and folded silverware the entire time we were eating.  I’ve heard that he’s really humble.

Chad and I don’t go to Bellaire Coffee Shop to try new things.  We’ve been enough times that we know what is REALLY good here.  Chad always orders the eggs and chili with grits and an english muffin and I order the beef hash with scrambled eggs, crispy hash browns and a biscuit. I know it might sound weird but eggs and chili with grits is super good!  You absolutely HAVE to try it out when you go.  When we first ordered it, I thought it was a weird combination but as I’ve said before, Chad is really brave so he’ll try anything and we were hooked after the first time he ordered it.  As for me, I don’t like beef hash but I tried it here and have loved it ever since.  I have never had beef hash anywhere else that I’ve like – just here!

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The great thing about Bellaire Coffee Shop is that it makes us feel really homey – like this is our little place on the weekends.  It also helps that the bill is unbelievably cheap!

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Seriously, $13.60 for all that plus 2 coffees.  You can’t beat that! Just remember that they only take cash.  Luckily, there’s an ATM/Bank next door.  hehe.

April 26: Taco Keto

I once tried to explain to my director that Chad and I often just go to random places to try out for fun and he said to me, “You two are brave.  I can’t just go into a restaurant that looks like that and try it out without a recommendation first from someone that I know.”

Case-in-point: Taco Keto

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We were actually supposed to try this taco truck out last week but my brother bailed on me because the puppy they were watching found a bingo dotter and well… let’s say the aftermath wasn’t pretty.  So, Chad and I decided to venture out and try it ourselves.  We knew the truck must have been legit when we had to drive to the GHETTO part of Houston to find it.  We knew it was definitely legit when we found it across from one of the oldest Kroger’s in town in a tiny spot between an old home that was painted orange and a run-down auto service shop.  Yup – this place must be good!

We had no idea what to order so I just went with what I knew would be good – tacos al pastor.  The owner then talked me into also trying the tacos de chicharron.  I’m not a chicharoon fan.  It’s basically little pieces of pork fat, but he did such a good job selling me on it that I figured why not. Chad is much more adventurous than me.  He decided to try the volcano burrito which was more like a monster burrito to me.

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One of the coolest things to me was the tortilla.  Apparently, they make their own tortillas there and it was not your usual flour or corn or even wheat tortillas.  Their tortillas were some sort of crispy orangey colored tortillas that dripped of fatty oils.  My tacos were served with some potatoes, onions and cilantro while Chad’s was just served with a jalapeno pepper.  I looked Taco Keto up on Yelp and sure enough – 4.5 stars with over 140 reviews.  Would the food live up to the hype? The eating experience definitely was:

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There were no chairs or tables to eat at so we pulled a towel out from the trunk of our car and ate our food on the trunk.  LOL.  It was quite an experience and the food definitely lived up to its reputation.

April 25: Fish City Grill

A few years ago, I got Chad to try his first massage at Massage Envy with me.  I don’t know why guys have a weird thing about people touching them.  Massages feel SO good and relaxing.  I managed to get him to join me for a couple’s massage and from then, he was hooked BUT he’d only go if I was with him so I signed him up for a membership and together, we both started getting monthly couple’s massages at Massage Envy.  At the time when we first started doing this, we’d always eat, get a massage and then walk over to Paciugo’s for some gelato but we stopped doing that and then after some more time, we eventually stopped getting our monthly massage.

Well, after the MS150, I knew we both needing a great stretch and muscle tension relief so I scheduled a couple’s massage for April 25th.  I had scheduled it early enough that we could do that first and then pick a place in the shopping center to eat at.  As we walked out of Massage Envy, we both glanced at Fish City Grill and knew we were hooked.  We hadn’t eaten there in a long time and I don’t even remember the last time we had their crawfish.

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If you haven’t been to Fish City Grill, one of the best things on the menu is the Fried Oyster Nachos.  I kid you not – this is probably the best way to eat oysters if you are anything like me and HATE the idea of eating raw oysters.  There’s something about the combination of the cayenne cilantro ranch sauce, the fried oyster and the pico that just come together so well.  I’ve had fried oysters at other places (even really fancy, expensive places) and I have yet to find one that beats Fish City Grill’s.

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Seriously, look at that!  My mouth is watering just staring at the photo.

Anyway, we proceeded to order 2 pounds of regular crawfish and 2 pounds of their spicy NITRO flavored crawfish. I didn’t know which was which because when they brought out the two platters, both looked like the nitro flavored to me and judging from how Chad was eating them, I have a feeling the cook messed up and made both of them nitro flavored.

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Obviously, we’ve have a ton of different flavored crawfish.  I wouldn’t say this one sucks by any means.  In fact, if you’re craving some ole fashioned cajun style, Fish City Grill is a good place to start.

April 24: Blue Fish at Bayou Place

We were supposed to meet Lee and Tina up at Sundance for a movie and since we paid for the tickets, they were going to pay for our food.  I kindly reminded Chad that we had already eaten there at the beginning of the month, but luckily, Lee and Tina were grilling up steaks at their house so we were on our own for food.  (I guess when they say “food,” they meant popcorn and snacks. haha.)

Even though we had just finished biking 150 miles over the weekend, I was ready to get back to working out so I suggested we run somewhere for dinner and then run to the theater and they can take us home after the movie.  We agreed on Blue Fish since it was right next to the theater and I mapped out our 3 mile run.  I know it’s not a long distance but we are starting over and building up our mileage right now.

After what couldn’t have been a better run, we raced to Blue Fish knowing we only had 40 minutes left until the movie started.  “Do you think we have enough time to order and eat?” “I don’t know.. Maybe we should just skip dinner.” “Naw, let’s just sit at the bar.  It’s faster service there.” SCORE! Two seats were available at the bar so we looked the menu over and ordered a small bowl of miso soup for me, a large carafe of hot sake (even though we just ran!), a caterpiller roll, a ginger dressing salad and a spicy tuna roll.  Nothing crazy. As we waited for our food, we stood up next to the bar and started stretching.  I know it sounds silly but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.  We should’ve been more adventurous in our food selections but I just didn’t care and we didn’t have enough time.  Unfortunately for us, I started having eater’s remorse when the gentleman next to us order the beef hot rock and I could smell it.  OH DAMN.  We decided the next time we go to Blue Fish, we HAD to have the hot rock.  It smelled so good and compared to Uchi’s hot rock, the slices of meat were much larger and likely more filling.  All in, I was still happy.  The caterpiller roll didn’t disappoint and the spicy tuna roll definitely had a kick to it, a really spicy kick.  The ginger dressing salad wasn’t that bad either.  I was pleasantly surprised and wondered if I should start ordering that more often.  It’s healthy and not your typical salad.

We managed to finish eating in record time and event spent a few minutes outside stretching in the parking lot before our movie started. Btw, we went to see Oblivion which I would HIGHLY recommend. 🙂

April 23: Carrie Underwood at the Toyota Center

Oh Mrs. Carrie Underwood, how I love you.  Carrie Underwood is so hot and she really seems so down to earth and humble.  She’s also super glammed out now compared to her American Idol days!

Tina and I got these tickets so many months ago and we kept saying we would dress up for it but time got away from us and in the end, we just didn’t do anything.  I don’t know if this would count as food from the “Toyota Center” because I had a personal pizza from Pappa John’s and let me tell you – when you’re hungry from a long day at the office, nothing tastes better than a pizza!

April 22: Minute Maid Park

It did it again to me! I clicked Post and the entire thing disappears.  I’m going to start saving a copy to my desktop now…

Anyhoo, one of the great things about working for Energy XXI is that we get to go to a lot of cool events that we would never otherwise attend.  Chad and I have been lucky enough to go to basketball games, baseball games and soccer games. We’ve been to many concerts and shows.  I haven’t gotten the chance to score some football tickets yet though.  hehe.

On Monday, we got a couple tickets to attend the Astros game that night.  It was our annual Foreman’s Meeting and the company is nice enough to schedule some social events for our foremen and their spouses.  The company had more than several suites booked with plenty of food and drinks.  Now, neither Chad nor I have been big fans of food at sporting events.  I think this may be because we used to work concession stands at A&M during the football games and Aramark just doesn’t have good food, but we were definitely proved wrong this night.

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From left to right: Jalepeno buffalo wings, chili cheese nachos, beef hot dog, sliced brisket philly sandwich on a pretzel bun, hamburger slider, another beef hot dog and chicken tenders.  The food was definitely good compared to your usual Aramark fare.  If all the food at sporting events were like this, I’d be down for paying the high prices!  I also got a photo with Orbit (is that our baseball team’s mascot’s name?).orbit

April 20-21 BP MS150

**I’m so frustrated! I wrote this nice entry about the MS150 weekend and when I clicked Post, it only posted the first paragraph!**

April 20 – 21 marked the BP MS150.  Both Chad and I participated in the Houston-to-Austin bike ride and I was team captain for my company’s 52 rider + 29 volunteer team.  It was crazy.  We reached our team off-site start at Waller Junior High and embarked on our two day bike riding journey. I didn’t take very many photos but here’s what I did take:

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This is Chad and I on day 1 of the ride.  We started so early from Waller, Texas that we reached the “lunch” breakpoint around 8:45 which was way too early for lunch so I just munched on some energy jelly beans and took off again on the route.  We finally rolled into La Grange at about 1:30pm so I sat and cheered on other riders.  It was so crazy seeing all these people come in.  What was even crazier was seeing the cyclists who just finished start on their long runs.  These were triathletes that were probably training for an ironman race or something.  Crazy people…

After some screaming and yelling, we were driven to The Falls Resort in New Ulm for the night.  I wasn’t hungry for lunch since I had been munching on junk food all day for the ride.  Dinner was provided by the hotel and consisted of chicken and beef fajitas.  Not impressed.  The only thing that was good from the meal was the nachos and the tres leches cake.  The meat was ok but the tortillas weren’t even warm so it was like eating it with stiff bread.  Maybe I was just too tired to enjoy the meal or maybe I was so cold from being outside with no jacket on.  Either way, the meal wasn’t that great.

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We have the best most supported team EVER.  For our team of 52 riders and 25 volunteers, we had 5 big passenger vans plus 3 trucks to haul our supplies and our bikes.

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Here were are sometime on day 2 going from La Grange to Austin.

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They shut the route when a rider got hurt so that EMS could get to them.  The line of riders waiting stretched forever!  Chad and I arrived at the lunch breakpoint around 10 or so and lunch on day 2 was from Jason’s Deli.  I had considered biking to the Whataburger but in an effort to speed up, I decided against it.  I munched on my sandwich, rested a bit and then we both took off for Austin.  We got into town by 12:20, the fastest time we’ve ever made.

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All I could think of was OMG, I just want to go home and lucky enough, we had enough riders to fill in the first two shuttles to go home so we got to leave very soon after we finished.  This is a photo of the line of cars trying to leave Austin to go home.

April 19 Canyon Creek Cafe

Wow, I am like SO behind in posts!  Part of it is because we participated in the BP MS150 Houston-to-Austin bike ride over the weekend and after something like that, I wasn’t about to sit around and try to make some posts about food!

So, as part of the MS150, I’m the team captain for my company’s Team Rusty Spokes.  We had our annual team dinner at Canyon Creek Cafe – mostly to go over last minute details and pick up everyone’s luggage for the weekend.  It’s hard to review this place because if I were just going there to hang out with some friends, I think it’d be a great place but for a team meeting, I don’t think I’ll have it there again.  Parking is such a hassle and how am I supposed to make announcements with the music blaring loudly? Plus, we barely had enough space for everyone even though I specifically gave them a 60 person headcount and explain that this was for a meeting.  (smh) Oh wells.

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The food that was served was not part of their regular menu.  I worked with their events manager to come up with a special menu for our event and we settled on vegetarian lasagna, meat lasagna with grilled shrimp and chicken on the side, breadsticks and salad.  I don’t think there was even a dessert.  I only tried the meat lasagna and breadsticks and it was actually pretty good, a bit on the dry side, but good nonetheless.  I had a bite of the shrimp and it was pretty dry so I didn’t bother to continue.  Chad ate the vegetarian lasagna and he said it was pretty good so I’ll take his word for it but maybe you shouldn’t.  Chad thinks anything is good.  hehe.  Overall, for a meal before a long 77 mile bike ride, it did what it needed to do – CARB LOAD.

I’ll have to try this place out when I’m not there for a meeting. I know they have Sunday brunch too so maybe we’ll try that this Sunday… that would mean I’d have to eat someplace else for dinner if I’m going to blog about it!

April 18 Pappas BBQ

Pappas isn’t some place we just decide to go eat at.  In fact, I think I’ve only eaten at a Pappas restaurant twice in my entire life.  I think Chad has eaten there a few more times than I have.  Last night, we finished prepping our stuff for the upcoming MS150 bike ride so we were trying to decide what to eat for dinner.  Having eaten out every night, neither of us had a craving for anything so I decided to dig into our trusty bank of gift cards and one of the cards in there was for Pappas with a total of $7.72 left.

The last time we went to Pappas BBQ a few months back, we ordered the Texas Sized Dinner which was supposed to feed 2-3 people.  Chad didn’t think it was that much food.  After all, the meal consisted of 1/2 lb each of three meats, 3 sides and some bread.  BOY were we wrong.  I think that was meant to feed 2-3 Texas sized people, not 2-3 Asian people.  We had so much food leftover, we could have fed another 2 people!

This time around, we weren’t going to make that mistake and I guesstimated that our $7.72 giftcard would likely pay for half of our meal.  Upon arriving, we ordered the Mixed Platter which had beef, ham, sausage, ribs and pulled pork along with 2 sides so we got corn and mac ‘n cheese along with an extra side of fries. Once all the food was on our tray, we knew we made the right decision.  How one person eats all this food on their own is beyond me!  Our total for the meal was about $16!

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For the price, we got so much food and it was mostly all good.  I think the two items that were surprisingly good were:

1. The fries.  Holy moly.  They were fresh out of the deep fryer and whatever seasoning they used was delish!  I’m not a fan of fresh cut fries because they always come out soggy but I don’t know how they make these.  I couldn’t stop popping them!

2. The ribs.  Ribs are always such a hit or miss with me.  These ribs had both the crunchy side for those that like their meat a little crispy AND the fall off the bone side for people like me.

Everything else was par.  Nothing too exciting or crazy.