I've made my feelings about lines very clear. That meant the hours before the Astros parade on Friday was the perfect time to visit Ramen Tatsu-Ya, which is usually overwhelmed by diners by 11:30 a.m. The owners took me through their classic tonkotsu, whose broth is unusually smoky thanks to the addition of blackened garlic oil; the spicy soybean paste (bolstered by the addition of Parmesan, the power ingredient of the season at ramen eateries) of the Miso Hot; and a new coconut broth dotted with squash instead of meat.
It was all good, very good. Soups were uniformly rich and silky, with well-chosen mix-ins from braised-then-seared cha siu pork belly to corn to pickled ginger. But as much as I liked it, something else turned my head. Everyone in Houston has a fried Brussels sprout dish, and usually, I'm indifferent to it. Not this time, and that was even before I knew the halved brassicas are called Sweet & Sour Yodas.
Unlike most of the city's sluttier Brussels dishes, these veggies don't rely on bacon or bonito flakes for cheap thrills. The crispy critters are just a mess of tiny cabbages and thin slices of garlic in a sticky sauce of tangy, fruity apricot vinegar and curry spices. The odd combination, and the fact that it's a bit greasy, smacks of some of the most sophisticated, most eclectic hangover food I can imagine.
To make it more of a meal, the Aikawa brothers, executive chef Tatsu and director of operations Shion, and co-owner Tako Matsumoto, have added a very good version of marinated-and-fried chicken karaage. Or there are menchi katsu (breaded beef patty) sliders, or juicy gyoza, for a protein kick. But whatever you do, forget about the Yodas do not.