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Amid the polished allure of Krispy Kreme, local chains like Shipley’s and newfangled gourmet donut shops like Hugs & Donuts in the Heights, there’s a local mom-and-pop store in Montrose with a seriously underrated reputation: Christy’s Donuts and Kolaches.
Montrose might as well be a coffee shop neighborhood. A new place called Campesino Coffee House recently opened on Waugh Drive two weeks ago. It’s a faded brick house outlined with streaks of bright turquoise and fuchsia that’s been refurbished into a quiet, mellow java nook with numerous rooms. Small tables, booths, a counter and plenty of comfy sofas organize the large space, creating a bit of a maze along with the vintage, quirky decor. For those wanting to camp out for a day of studying, never fear — there is a multitude of outlets.
Crowds flocked to last Saturday’s opening of a new Halal Guys restaurant on Farnham Street. The New-York based food-stand chain has long been a favorite for late night meals. On my first visit to the New York, I was impressed with the massive gyro platters slathered in thick tahini. So when I headed over to the Halal Guys in Upper Kirby, I hoped for the same flavors and quantity as my first time.
Bieber fever is real. I experienced it firsthand at the album release show he hosted in Houston on Nov. 19, an event where he attempted to have a heart-to-heart with thousands of screaming girls at the Toyota Center. I had made a rather impulsive decision by buying a ticket to see him, but in my defense, I believed that he has matured immensely since his days of long, shaggy hair and high-pitched vocals, and I just wanted to see this transformation myself.
Julie Ren leads an extraordinary double life as a pre-med biochemistry major and an aspiring fashion model. Her fledgling interest in modeling evolved into a passion and now Ren, a Sid Richardson College junior walks the runways sporting fashion by the most notable designers in Houston. She recently debuted an edgy, sleek bob as a hair model at a hair show called “World’s Fair,” and sauntered down the runway for various designers during Houston Fashion Week.
Dessert trends are sweeping across the country, igniting in places like New York City where tourists and natives pour into restaurants serving innovative yet simple sweets. I was curious to understand what keeps these fads alive, and my point of interest was ice cream rolls. Before I went to New York City for midterm recess, I had heard through Buzzfeed and word of mouth about this newfangled dessert. Would it be better than the famed cronut? Or would it fail to live up to its hype?
The goal was to spend 12 hours in a coffee shop, an idea inspired by a man who spent a whopping 24 hours in Portland’s Southeast Grind. I sat in Montrose’s Siphon Coffee to observe my surroundings — the people, the atmosphere, conversations, my own dwindling attention span — for the sake of understanding why these places are so popular and what a coffee shop’s day looks like. So, here’s a play-by-play review of my enlightening experience:
It’s 2 a.m., my eyes are fatigued after staring at hydrocarbon structures for the past 12 hours and my stomach whines in hunger. What rises to the occasion? Beloved Shin ramen. Nothing is more blissful than the crinkling sound right before the iconic red package bursts open. Ever since it evolved from the traditional East Asian noodle dish to the widely available product sold today, Shin has become quite the collegiate favorite. College students adore Shin because it’s a comfort food staple that is simple, easy and delicious. It consistently delivers quality and quantity. But what about the newfangled rise of gourmet ramen? Restaurants are popping up all over America and serving a taste of Japan’s famous noodles. Customers can enjoy steaming, large bowls of handcrafted ramen in sleek, vibrant nooks that defi nitely surpass eating instant Shin in a dingy dorm room. However, classy ramen usually costs around $11 to $12 while a pack of Shin is cheaper than a dollar — yet people are still fl ocking to these noodle destinations in droves. What makes gourmet ramen so popular? I recall the very fi rst moment I faced o with a fancy bowl of ramen. It looked stunning, with thin noodles bobbing amid a light pork broth with pork belly, bean sprouts and green onion adorning the top. It was a scrumptious, hearty meal created with plenty of meticulous detail. Since then, I have scarfed down many more bowls and come to believe that ramen has gained such a delectable reputation because it manages to blend versatility with simplicity. The dish basically consists of noodles in a soup or broth, which are topped with a couple slices of meat and a sprinkle of vegetables. Yet there are multiple kinds of broths, noodles, meats and toppings, like the infamous soft boiled egg. The possibilities are endless. More components can be added and some can be removed. I’ve been to numerous ramen restaurants and come to expect staring contests with the menu. Will it be spicy miso or low-sodium chicken? Braised pork or seafood? With the horde of options, ramen manages to cater to every customer’s taste. Gourmet ramen doesn’t just stick to the curly, wavy noodles like Shin does; there are thick noodles, thin noodles and even ones that resemble spaghetti. Noodle style changes from restaurant to restaurant, and many places boast ornate noodle-making machines. There are ramen bars in Japan that serve noodles almost the size of udon while the noodles at Jinya Ramen Bar here in Houston are vermicelli-thin. Broths, on the other hand, are judged based on their degrees of savoriness and spiciness, hints of dashi (the base for miso) and thickness. Some ramen spots serve soups with a disconcerting fi lm of oil on top, but Kukai Izakaya in Portland presents a sublime concoction that is tinged with the right amount of salt and tonkotsu richness. To be honest, I always leave a ramen restaurant satisfi ed even if I do not end up loving that particular place, because certain components of the meal are still stellar if others fall fl at. That’s the beauty of ramen. Since every restaurant’s take on these noodles di ers, a wide audience can be reached. Japan may look at ramen as a common staple, like how Americans view hamburgers, but America is catching on to ramen’s marvelous versatility and ability to please many people’s palates. Check out some of Houston’s popular ramen places, such as Tiger Den, Ninja Ramen, Samurai Noodle and the aforementioned Jinya to dis
When Kung Fu Tea opened a new location in Montrose, the people rejoiced. It’s no question boba is beloved among Rice University students, but it hasn’t always been so easy to find. There are stellar options in the heart of Chinatown, but not everyone can just drive there for a late-night run. Teahouse is close, but exceedingly average in comparison. Until Kung Fu’s arrival, most students had to turn to boba sales that occur in the Rice Memorial Center to satisfy cravings.
I visited Hong Kong this past winter break, a bustling hubbub of activity. I would step out into the streets and hear Cantonese chatter everywhere. I dodged red taxis that veered past and surrendered to the mercy of the hordes of people cramming the trains. Nevertheless, if there is anything that stuck with me most, it was the culinary experience — Hong Kong is a true haven of stellar cuisine. Even the McDonald’s boast sleek, sophisticated cafes with latte art and macarons. If you are looking to study abroad in Asia or you just catch a whiff of wanderlust, Hong Kong is a wonderful place to explore some of the finest and most unusual eats in the world.