So many restaurants, so little time… well, actually, there are 35 days of Houston Restaurant Weeks, so one could theoretically have at least 70 meals if one restricts the outings to lunch and dinner. But with 277 establishments participating in the charitable program, you get my point.
I’m making the rounds of Houston Restaurant Weeks menus this week, and had some great mushrooms and tofu at Ginger & Fork, a Chinese restaurant in The Heights that has a fine bar program. Mary Li, the owner, has visited many of the world’s best bars, and her cocktail list is a thoughtful one to boot. (I had The Economist during my visit, and it’s a good choice: Tanqueray 10 Gin, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Cuesta Pale Cream, Dolin Genepy, Amère Nouevelle. Order it before your Restaurant Weeks meal and you’ll not regret doing so.)
Ginger & Fork is offering brunch, lunch, and dinner menus during Houston Restaurant Weeks ($22, $20, and $45, respectively), and you’re lucky, because the restaurant’s wood ear mushrooms are on all three. These thin, delicate fungi are served chilled with carrots and celery, and if you have one forkful you’ll have 10.
Pair them with the spicy tofu cubes and experience a tantalizing and satisfying combination of flavors, temperatures, and textures.
There’s a Hong Kong-style egg dish on the menu here, scrambled eggs with shrimp, and it’s rich and fragrant and full of fresh-tasting shrimp, and there’s also Cha Siu Bao, buns filled with barbecue pork. I had my fair share of these in Hong Kong, and the ones at Ginger & Fork are worthy of the name, dense but still soft.
If you want beef, go for the filet mignonettes — filet mignon cut into small cubes and stir-fried with a black pepper sauce and mushrooms. Use your chopsticks for this dish, because otherwise you’ll be tempted to use a spoon and it will be gone before you fully appreciate the complexity of it.
Two words next: Chow Fun. Do not go to Ginger & Fork without tasting the Chow Fun Beef. It’s one of the best things I’ve eaten this summer. Rice noodles retain their consistency despite being bathed in a savory soy sauce full of beef and bean sprouts. Each and every bite is moving.
Desserts include an exemplary Asian bread pudding with pears and a brandy caramel sauce, a Goji berry gelatin (great for vegans), and, the star of the final course, Mary’s Ginger Parfait. Served in a small glass, it’s a melange of tastes and mouth feels, including spice, sweet, and creaminess.
Tip: Go to Ginger & Fork for happy hour (Tuesday through Friday from 2:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.) and get the Cha Siu sliders, the Yu Choy Greens, and drink well.)
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