A shopping center tucked off Bellaire Blvd. just inside Beltway 8 hosts a particularly intriguing restaurant row:
Within feet of Fu Fu Cafe are something like 7 or 8 eateries offering a bewildering range of options in just a single shopping strip. The gelato shop is right next to a bakery that sells French desserts, Chinese pastries and rice cakes that look like guerilla hand grenades. A restaurant a few doors down serves Braised Lion Head, a Shanghai pork meatball specialty cooked with Napa cabbage I have never come across and have yet to sample (no, itâ€™s not made with real lion meat, I checked). Noodle House 88, which Robb Walsh swears serves some of the best Indonesian food in the country, is in the very same strip. If Indonesian food doesnâ€™t suit you, you can order sushi from the same menu. A new dim sum place opened just days ago and already looks packed.
But some of these food establishments aren’t so accessible for newcomers, warns the author of the Tasty Bits blog:
Tucked in at the end of the strip Paradise Cafe looks almost impenetrable to a non-Chinese American. Other than the name and descriptive signs such as “noodles” and “soups”, the only real clue as to what is inside is a magazine article pasted in the window showing a chef pulling noodles by hand. I got a blank stare when I asked for a to go menu, making me even more curious. For all I know the article could have been about the importance of keeping a tidy kitchen, but the promise of hand made noodles was too much to ignore, so I made it my mission to figure out what was behind the iron curtain.
Keep reading for Tasty Bits’ lowdown on Paradise Cafe noodles!
Paradise Cafe, as viewed by Tasty Bits:
Inside, the restaurant looks more like a smoothie shop than anything else, with the entire menu on the wall dedicated to drinks. Smoothies, coffee, juices, fruit cocktails, tapioca drinks. The whole spread. Expecting to finally find some answers about the food at Paradise Cafe on the menu, instead all I found were more questions
Those noodles were dao xiao mian . . . weren’t they? Tasty Bits’ conclusion:
Paradise Cafe is an interesting place. Dishes are cooked with care, the ingredients are fresh, noodles seem to be hand made and the menu looks delightfully offbeat. I think Iâ€™ll play the field for at least a few more visits to see if anything else pops out. If nothing else, I now know where to get some of the best chopped noodles in town.
Photos: Flickr user mgovshteyn