Dinner Date at 369 Oriental Bistro
It was a very wet and rainy Saturday, so my boo (his name is Abel) and I spent much of our Saturday inside. It was a great change of pace from what we usually do on weekends, which usually end up being as full as our weekdays. We were thrilled to not have anywhere we needed to be or to be cooking food for anyone. While we greatly enjoy hosting friends and family, sometimes we absolutely need a break - some time to recharge and enjoy one another's company.
So we ventured out around 4 PM into the River Oaks/Montrose area of Houston. This part of town is known for a variety of things, one among them being all the great places to eat. We had no idea where we would be eating dinner, but we knew for sure we would not be cooking.
On Westheimer Road there is a strip mall where we love to visit Half Price Books and sometimes pick up a six-pack of craft beer we've never tried before at the Specs right next door. After leaving Half Price Books, we intended to leave the area but decided we'd pick up some beer at Specs. We were discussing where we'd be eating or picking up food from when we realized we'd just parked in front of an inconspicuous Asian restaurant we never knew was there. I suggested we just eat here and I'm so happy we did. In short, what a pleasant surprise this tiny little bistro turned out to be.
To start off, I loved the atmosphere. When we walked in it was completely empty, but the soft glow of the yellow lights immediately made me want to stay. The menu is large and has a great selection of offerings, everything from steamed dumplings to beef udon soup.
We ordered the steamed pork dumplings to start. I decided to try the Thai chicken and shrimp served with pineapple and stringed green beans tossed in a spicy Thai chili sauce. Abel ordered Four Delights of Kung Pao which featured sliced beef, chicken, shrimp, and scallops sauteed in a spicy sauce, along with red and green sliced bell peppers, peanuts, baby corn, and water chestnuts.
The dumplings took about 15 minutes to arrive, but they were worth the wait. I could tell they had been freshly made. The dough was thick but not so much that it took away from the pork stuffing. They were double the size of dumplings that you can tell have been frozen and steamed to-order. Delicious.
Our food arrived soon after and each entree was served on its own plate accompanied by a small bowl of white rice. My plate was delicious. So much so that I hardly touched my rice! The chicken was cut thinly and cooked so that it was juicy and easy to bite into. The shrimp was my favorite part. They were cooked perfectly and had a buttery flavor to them. The sauce was not spicy and very lightly coated everything on the plate. I added much of the chili sauce they brought us with the dumplings to my dish as I prefer to cry while I eat. I really liked that the green beans were cooked to the point of being soft. I am not much of a fan of crunchy veggies. Abel's Kung Pao dish was also very tasty. I especially enjoyed the sliced beef in his dish and the sauce as it was much thicker than the sauce on my plate.
Overall, we enjoyed the atmosphere, and the fresh and flavorful food. However, next time we will likely share a plate so we can order more dumplings!
Also, I loved the little tea pot the soy sauce was served in and the minature salt and pepper shakers.