Xiong's Cafe in Chinatown is a Bejing noodle house. When I asked for a classic Bejing noodle dish, the manager recommended L2, za jiang noodles, which the menu translates as pork lo mein with shredded cucumbers. The noodles were springy and perfectly cooked, but the ground pork mixture had a salty, funky flavor I didn't recognize.

Xiong's Cafe
9888 Bellaire Blvd
713-771-8448
www.xiongscafechinatown.com

Turns out za jiang noodles are seasoned with aromatic fermented soybean paste. The cold crunchy cucumber slivers were a great contrast in flavor, texture and temperature—and a welcome palate cleanser. With a cold beer, it was an interesting combination, but be forewarned, this is not your sweet-and-sour chicken sort of Chinese food. 

As for dumplings, the manager suggested D3, pan-fried pork dumplings. These are big, meaty dumplings made by folding dumpling wrappers over a sausage-shaped meat filling. They taste great but fall apart when you try to pick them up with chopsticks. I resorted to grabbing them with my fingers and dunking them in the excellent dipping sauce. 

While researching the Manchurian Dong Bei cooking style recently, I learned about the eight famous Chinese cooking styles. As you may remember, the "Great 8" are: Chuan (Sichuan), Jing (Bejing), Lu (Shandong), Su (Jiangsu), Hui (Anhui), Xiang (Hunan), Min (Fujian), and Yue (Cantonese).

Finding each style in Houston has proved a challenge. Xiong's Cafe covers the Jing, Mala Sichuan the Chuan, and I am guessing Sandong Noodle House is Lu. Fung's Kitchen is definitely Yue. And I know there are Hunan restaurants in Houston. But I am still puzzling over Su, Hui and Min. Any suggestions on where to find these styles of Chinese food in Space City?

 

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