HOUSTON’S SOUTH & SOUTH EAST ASIAN CUISINE SCENE
As the most diverse metropolitan area in the United States, Houston is a mosaic of different culinary cultures, some thriving as pockets of authentic traditional cuisine, while others fuse with one another in a myriad of unexpected and delightful ways. As world-renown chef and food personality Anthony Bourdain put it in a recent episode of “Parts Unknown,” Houston has become “a wonderland of the strange and diverse.”
This quarter, our newsletter highlights a few of Houston’s thriving South and South East Asian restaurants, and learns from the entrepreneurs who helped bring these delectable dishes to our city.
Located in an unassuming strip center, Singapore Café is a cozy restaurant with a warm atmosphere. Although its Chinese eggplant, Malaysian curry and Indonesian sambal are all individually delicious, the true charm of this mom and pop joint is the fusion of flavors from the region. Singapore, like Houston, is famous for being an international hub with a diverse population. As a result, its cuisine is a unique blend of culinary traditions from Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Thailand and India – a blend that Houstonians can now enjoy with the help of Singapore Café.
Recently reviewed by Anthony Bourdain himself, Himalaya is another jewel in Houston’s international foodie crown. Owned and operated by Kaiser Lashkari – a former resident of our sister city Karachi, Pakistan – Himalaya serves authentic Pakistani food to its patrons.
Over a plate of warm biryani, Mr. Lashkari might tell you he was not always a cook. When he was in his third year of medical school in Pakistan, he decided to move to the United States and study hospitality and restaurant management at the University of Houston instead. Fortunately for Houston, he brought some of Pakistan’s renowned culinary traditions with him.
Although there are many delightful South and South East Asian restaurants in Houston, the last place we’ll be looking at this quarter is a chain restaurant from South India called Saravana Bhavan. While the humble cuisine of South India may not have garnered as much attention in the United States as North Indian curries, elsewhere its reputation is booming. The chain Saravana Bhavan can be found in 19 international locations worldwide, spanning as far as Australia, the Netherlands, and South Africa. Though the restaurant has gone global, we have it on good authority that Saravana Bhavan hasn’t sacrificed its authenticity along the way.