Since Covid-19 isn't going away any time soon and restaurants continue to stress alternative options to dining in, we'll bring you each week a roundup of takeout dinners recently enjoyed by dining editor Timothy Malcolm.
I'm forever on a search for the best ramen in Houston, and Tamashi easily ranks near the top as its bowls are pound-for-pound stunners. Recently when I needed a lift, I picked up an order of Tonkotsu Mild. It wasn't long before I was lapping up the creamy pork broth that needed nothing extra. The fresh fish cake was packed with flavor, the chashu was mouthwatering, and the meal was finished in about 15 minutes. Next time out, I'll be heading for the miso hot with a side of chicken karrage.
There's nothing that mantoo can't fix. These steamed, angular dumplings pocketed with ground beef, onions, and herbs, and covered in garlic yogurt sauce and spicy meat sauce, are immediate remedies for whatever ails you. If ordering them from this Afghan restaurant in Sharpstown, chances are you'll devour them quickly, so add the lamb curry—a fall-off-the-bone hunk of lamb drenched in spicy curry sauce—for extra comfort. Order online, and you'll have a choice of either rice or naan, and while the former is what comes with the lamb curry in the restaurant, the latter scoops up all that shredded lamb and curry sauce really well.
Porchetta & Sandwiches
Another Houston chef has pivoted to serving sandwiches for lunchtime crowds. Ben McPherson, who runs the superb BOH Pasta & Pizza at Bravery Chef Hall, started this pop-up of sorts last week. The top specialty is the porchetta sandwich: slow-roasted pork loin, chopped fine, paired with arugula, caper aioli, and salsa verde on a ciabatta roll. The flavor is on point, reminiscent of Philadelphia's famous roast pork with broccoli rabe sandwiches. Other offerings here include a chicken Parmesan sandwich and a BLT.
I have some new neighbors who know their Turkish cuisine, and they've told me multiple times that Istanbul Grill is pretty dang close to being halfway across the world. I concur, especially after grabbing some of that soothing and lemony mercimek (red lentil soup) and brick-oven-baked lahmacun (ground lamb and vegetables embedded in a thin pizza-style crust). If I had time I would've sat at the restaurant's pitch-perfect covered patio while watching Rice Village buzz along, but I had to keep moving ... really just to tell my new neighbors about my latest experience.
I hadn't visited Rene Hidalgo's little corner of the world in more than year, so I was excited to walk into the shop on a Sunday morning to find a line of people clamoring for chilaquiles, migas, and breakfast tacos. I wolfed down my tacos (one chorizo, one bacon), which surprisingly—in a good way—resembled cooked omelets rolled inside tortillas and were quite light. Knowing that Tamales Don Pepe makes a mean blue corn tortilla, I asked Hidalgo if one of my tacos could be wrapped in it, but he recommended to keep them in flour. "They'll fall apart if you're getting to-go." He was right, I knew that, and I'm glad he said it. He was looking out for me. Thanks, Rene.