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.
Talk about bad luck: DFW-based chef Tim Love opened the Houston location of his popular temple to ... well, wood ... at Levy Park not even a week before the virus shut everything down. But the restaurateur, who was one of several members of the food industry (including Houston's Tilman Fertitta) who met with President Donald Trump in May to discuss issues facing restaurants, was able to get some of his dining rooms back up and running by early May.
Woodshed focuses on all the things you can cook by burning wood, as in smoked meat and fish, and pots of paella, gumbo, and jambalaya. For lunch I recommend the butcher's sandwich, combining chopped brisket, pulled pork, and sausage with fresh and crunchy coleslaw, pickles, and tangy mustard, all on a nice soft bun. An order of ranchero-style hen and cheddar tacos was just a bit too greasy and could've used a fresh vegetable element, but I appreciated that the Woodshed staff packed the tortillas separately (rolled in aluminum foil) from the filling. I'll head back to Woodshed for some bigger plates in due time.
One of the concepts working out of the Blodgett Food Hall in the Third Ward, Saigon Hustle comes from Cassie Ghaffar, a Vietnamese American whose mother immigrated to America during the Vietnam War in 1975. Like at many Vietnamese street-food spots in town, you'll find banh mi sandwiches and vermicelli bowls, plus some appetizers and a robust selection of rolls (the crepe roll with pork and shrimp is a favorite). I got a pretty delicious char-grilled BBQ ribeye banh mi with chicken liver pate and fresh vegetables in a sharp roll, plus the curious ABC beef soup. This is a pho-based alphabet soup with ground beef, and it's really tasty. I could drink the salty-sweet broth as it is.
I lived just a couple blocks north of Ramen Okidoki about seven years ago, when the concept was based in Astoria, Queens, New York. But I hadn't tried it until just recently, after Okidoki packed up and moved to Houston in early 2019, parking on Bellaire Boulevard, west of Asia Town. My tonkotsu was about average, with the broth a little too garlicky and the pork chashu a little too tough. Better was the ultra-creamy udon pasta with mentaiko (pollock roe) and k-yu don, a rice bowl with juicy chopped beef, seaweed, and scallions. It also has Korean fried chicken stalwart Lims Chicken on the menu, so there will be a next time.