A Guide to the Best of Houston’s Asiatown
Houston’s Asiatown is an eclectic, multicultural jumble of restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, retail centers, and much more, spanning over six square miles along and around Bellaire Boulevard. It’s the ultimate choose-your-own foodie adventure, from baked goods and rolled ice cream, to hot pot, barbecue, or dim sum. And that list is just an appetizer.
There are countless ways to experience Asiatown, whether you scout out hole-in-the-wall joints for one-of-a-kind meals, or skip the search entirely and head straight to the tried and true landmark institutions (and there are many). With several cultures, and even a few continents, represented among the area’s locally-owned restaurants and businesses, Asiatown is a fitting moniker for this incredibly diverse community. (Case in point: In Asiatown, you can get one of the best micheladas around, just steps away from a venerable hot pot restaurant.)
But the Asiatown we know and love today, in all its sprawling glory, is a relative newcomer to the city scene, finding new footing in 1983 on the stretch of Bellaire Boulevard from about Gessner Road to State Highway 6. Before then, Asiatown was an immigrant enclave in East Downtown, serving as a hub for Cantonese immigrants who experienced similar racial discrimination as neighboring Black and Hispanic communities. Established in the 1930s, the original Asiatown was a thriving community…until it wasn’t. The highway-locked neighborhood eventually outgrew its space, thus leading the Asian American community to the city’s far southwest corner. Today, traces of the once-vibrant community still remain, like the fading blue and red Kim Hung Market, or the massive, longstanding Kim Son restaurant.
Though the city’s diverse Asian American populations are spread throughout the Greater Houston region, Asiatown remains a cornerstone for stocking up on fresh, hard-to-find produce and international goods, eating a meal that tastes like home, or exploring a new culture by way of cuisine. It’s all here, hidden among unassuming retail centers and specialty supermarkets.
Best of Asiatown
Drink Like a Local
At Toukei Izakaya, the dishes and small plates are specifically created to complement the cocktails and whiskies. Try the Japanese whiskey flight for the full experience.
Creative cocktails abound at GiAu Bar n Bites, a Bellaire Boulevard outlet with mixes like basil smash, Thai chili lemonade, and a boozy milk tea. And when the season rolls around, you can have crawfish and cocktails.
Right in front of Happy Lamb Hot Pot on Bellaire Boulevard is La Crudería, a laid back and lively Mexican outpost known for having some of the best micheladas, ceviche, and quesabirria tacos in H-Town.
Eat Like a Local
Malaysian cuisine is an amalgam of Chinese, Indian, and Malay influences, all of which you can find at Banana Leaf. Crowd favorites include the roti canai, an Indian flatbread dish served alongside dipping sauces, and the chicken satay.
Mala Sichuan Bistro is a Houston favorite known for their braised basa fish filets, sauteed cumin beef, and, of course, spice.
For tasty broths, veggies, and meats aplenty, Happy Lamb Hot Pot is the go-to. Hot pot newbies and connoisseurs alike will find something to love at this all-you-can-eat mainstay.
What's not to love about Star Snow Ice and Teriyaki? Here, you'll find Taiwanese-style shaved ice, tapioca, pork chops, and chicken nuggets, all in a fast casual environment that will keep you coming back for more.
This Viet-Cajun restaurant is practically a monument to Houston's diversity. Here, Cajun delicacies and Southeast Asian flavors collide in dishes like Viet-Cajun blue crabs or crawfish, wok-fried noodles, and Muc Chien Gion, James Beard finalist chef Trong Nguyen's take on fried calamari.
This Hong Kong-style eatery is known for its heaping portions of dishes like chow fun and Singapore-style noodles. And don't miss out on the Hong Kong-style French toast.
Shop Like a Local
Think of Hong Kong City Mall as one of Asiatown's primary anchors. Since 1999, this Asian shopping center and food court has been a one-stop shop for everything from fresh meats and live seafood to bubble tea, pho, baked goods, and much more.
Experience a microcosm of Houston's Asiatown at Dun Huang Plaza, a destination for dim sum, Chinese baked goods, Japanese and Korean skincare products, foot massages, and desserts of all sorts.
At Viet Hoa International Foods prices on fresh produce are unmatched, as is the assortment of goods—including sauces, spices, and condiments—you can't find anywhere else.
Moshi Moshi Gifts & Stationery Co.
Lovers of paper goods, anime, and the world of Sanrio will be at home among Moshi Moshi's wide assortment of Japanese merch.
Hang Out Like a Local
For vibes, ethically-sourced coffee, delicious eats, and strong Wi-Fi, Blkdog Coffee is a no-brainer.
Kamalan Bakery's Taiwanese style breads and buns range from savory to sweet, full of flavor and whichever fillings your heart desires.
At the corner of Dun Huang Plaza is Cafe 101, a wide-ranging Asian fusion restaurant with a little bit of everything, whether you crave hot pot, kimchi fries, milk tea, or all of the above.
Don't discount 85°C Bakery Cafe for being a chain; there's a reason why their egg tarts, buns, and selection of drinks are sought after worldwide. The location in Asiatown is Houston's flagship locale, so take your time perusing the expansive menu and have a sip of coffee served at exactly 85°C, of course.
This relaxing tea room boasts a wide selection of high-quality loose leaf teas. Not sure what to order? The friendly staff can guide you based on any craving or even ailment you may have.
For Outdoor Enthusiasts
Located in the heart of Asiatown, this 175-acre greenspace features a 1.77-mile trail that wraps around a large detention pond. Arthur Storey Park has something for everyone, including walkers,joggers, kiddos, and even anglers.
Just south of Hong Kong City Mall is Boone Road Park, a spot for walks on the .9-mile trail, playground fun, and picnics and barbecues.
This small neighborhood park is a great place to get a walk in, join a game of basketball, or picnic at one of the many tables.
The newly-revamped Alief Neighborhood Center and Park is one of the premier community hubs around. The 38-acre park features a playground, public swimming pool, skatepark, walking paths, and multiple sports courts and fields. While you're here, check out the impressive new center, home to a public library, senior center, and Women, Infant, and Child Clinic.
For Art Lovers
Longevity mural at Sterling Plaza
Asiatown's first community mural, Longevity, (created in 2022 by artist Thomas Tran) is an ode to heritage and community health. This bright, multifaceted, two-story painting was truly a collaborative effort, completed by more than 200 community volunteers!
Vietnam War Memorial at Universal Shopping Center
This public piece of art sits in a part of Asiatown known as Little Saigon. Donated by the owner of Universal Shopping Center, the memorial is “a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to maintain the freedom of South Vietnam.”
This Gessner Road custom framing outpost is beloved by the community for the owner's attention to detail and the collection of Asian art on sale throughout the shop.
For Date Night
With themed rooms for intimate groups and large parties, the only choice you have to make at Happy Zone KTV is which song to pick. (Heads up: They have more than 300,000 tunes to choose from).
Longtime locals will get a heavy dose of nostalgia at Houston Funplex, an outlet with everything you can imagine from a Ferris wheel and roller skating to virtual reality games and a sports bar. All under one roof.
Open until 2 a.m., Black Ants Gaming Lab is the go-to spot for e-sports, computer, and console games. Into Fortnite or League of Legends? Hop in on one of the many tournaments.
Simplify the logistics by planning a food crawl at Bellaire Food Street, a strip center with Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and fusion eats. Grab a cup of coffee at Tom N Toms to refuel, and wrap up the progressive meal with popsicles at Popfancy Pops or Tiger Sugar.
Adjacent to Arthur Storey Park, Teo Chew Temple is a Buddhist temple open to visitors who want to admire the architecture and learn about the story behind this Asiatown treasure. Check out the temple guide to make the most of your visit.
This retail and wholesale nursery is a gold mine for all types of vibrant foliage, from bonsai trees and everyday house plants to exotic and rare varieties.
For massage therapy and foot reflexology, look no further than Oasis Massage Salon, an Asiatown staple for affordable, high-quality self-care.
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