I was invited to do some book events in Houston. I had a really good time talking with people about my book -- and doing serious research at Underbelly 1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77006 -- the easy to miss place across the street from the El Real Tex Mex neon sign. Underbelly was rocking at 6:30 P.M. with standing room only except for my reserved table. It sounds like a pig-centric place, but it's not, it's global cuisine executed with local ingredients. Chef Chris Sheperd calls it new American Creole cuisine.
To test the kitchen's talents in diverse cuisines I ordered: Korean Braised Goat & Dumplings, Burrata with Heirloom tomatoes and Fava Bean Salad, Crispy Local Vegetables with Caramelized Fish Sauce, Warm Sourdough Bread, Roasted Garlic and Roasted Leek Butter, Seared Pork Tenderloin Bibimap, Rice, Pickled & Raw Vegetables, Kung Pao Lamb and Vinegar Pie.
The meal was memorable and the talent is excessive. A few notes for your visit:
- The Scoville Heat Rating on the Korean Goat is north of 250,000, perfect for chile heads.
- I am going to learn to make Burrata the way they do it at Underbelly. The flavor and texture was amazing. The platter was a still life and everything on it was freshly picked, delicious and lightly handled as it should be, but the Burrata stole the show. Order two of these for a crowd.
- Caramelized fish sauce makes anything taste good. Gilding in this example with vegetables this perfect.
- You could skip the sourdough bread and just eat the butter, but the bread is quite good and it's a big chunk for sharing.
- Bibimap was new to me as I can't pass up Korean BBQ when it's offered. I liked it but I do not know if this is a spectacular example.
- No matter Chinese or whatever seasoning, you would have known this little lamb grew up on a really nice farm.
- Next time I'll try some of the Gulf fish or shrimp choices.
- After sampling several reds by the glass, the Miner Family Merlot was a good all round choice for this tasting.
It's so exciting to be out and about and eating things I've never had before!
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