Dec 12, Houston Chinatown

Dec 12, 2019

Our big adventure for the day was to go to the Houston Chinatown.  We took an easy morning and didn’t leave the Cracker Barrel until almost 11 AM.  The Houston Chinatown is nothing like the Chinatown in San Francisco as there is nothing scenic or touristy about it at all.  It consists of a group of strip malls and small open shopping centers full of Chinese supermarkets, restaurants and stores.  It may not have been a great tourist destination but it was perfect for us.

We pulled into a random strip shopping center called Dynasty Plaza and quickly found a good spot for lunch.  It was a very bare bones cafeteria place, sort of like a Panda Express but stripped down, mom and pop style.  While the decorations were lacking it was full of Asian people and had a two meat, two vegetable plate of authentic Chinese food for $5.75.  The restaurant was so authentic and so local it didn’t even have an English name and was really like some cheap, working class hole in the wall restaurant you would find in mainland China and lunch for the three of us was under $15.

After lunch we went to a nearby dessert café named Sweet Memes Dessert and Tea.  Unlike the place we had lunch this little café was completely Instagram worthy with Christmas decorations, large stuffed animals at the seats and colorful drinks with cute names.  We asked what their best thing was and they recommended the strawberry soufflé ($5.75) so that is what we ordered.  It turned out to be a couple of super fluffy egg pancakes covered in strawberry sauce.  It was not too sweet but super soft, and quite delicious.  We hung out at the café for over an hour.  We played a little Jenga, then Holly read a book about tea, Olivia played with her Lego’s and I took a short nap in the lap of a giant teddy bear.

Eventually we left the café and walked to the large shopping center next door where we checked out the restaurants there, stopped at a small Chinese bookstore and even a small gun store.  Then we got some groceries at the H-Mart supermarket a Korean supermarket.  As we left the supermarket instead of carrying all the bags back to Rover, I went and drove Rover to the supermarket.  We generally park in the far end of parking lots where there are less cars and we can take two spaces.  Rover can fit into a single space but it is generally just easier to park in two spots. Seconds after I parked in two spaces the mall security car pulls up next to us.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to hassle me for taking up two spaces but there were no cars parked within 8 or 9 parking spaces of me.  Turns out the guard was just bored and interested in our motorhome so I chatted with him for a few minutes while Holly put the groceries away and it was no problem. 

We wanted to have dinner in Chinatown so Holly just did some schoolwork with Olivia until dinnertime.  We went to Gao’s Kabob restaurant for some Chinese BBQ Kabob’s.  This was a bit of a trendy upscale kabob restaurant and had spicy Sichuan kabobs made from pork, chicken and beef as well as some more unusual items like green bean kabobs.  I thought the kabobs were sweeter than the ones in China and so I liked them even better than the standard, spicy/savory Chinese Kabobs.  We also a bowel of Chinese cold Dan Dan noodles.  It turned out to be a rather pricey meal at over $60 for the three of us with no leftovers.

Dinner at Gao’s Kabobs.
Chinese Dan Dan Style noodles
The Kabab’s at Gao’s came in a number of different styles.
There were even Chicken wing Kabobs.
Chinese Kabob’s are different from Western Kabobs in that there is less meat.
One unusual item that we had never had were BBQ’ed pig’s toes. A little chewy but good.

Olivia had a very small stuffed cat toy and she had named Cassie and decided a few weeks ago that Cassie’s birthday was December 12th.  Olivia had been keeping track of the days and wanted to have a small birthday party for Cassie so we went to the 85 degrees bakery to get a cupcake for Cassie.  Instead of a cupcake, Olivia chose a strawberry mousse dessert and I got a few extra pastries for the next day breakfast and snacks.  The bakery staff were nice enough to give us a free candle and Olivia had fun singing happy birthday to her stuffed animal. 

Birthday party for Olivia’s stuffed cat, Cassie at 85 Degrees bakery.
Cassie got a bite too.

As we left the bakery, I got a bubble milk tea to go so our total bill was about $15 at the bakery.  We got back into Rover and headed to another Cracker Barrel to spend the night.  As we drove I reflected that even though it was a rather expensive day with almost $100 spent on restaurants it was a pretty good day. This was the advantage of long term travel. If we were just on vacation, we would have never spent a full day just hanging out at a couple of nondescript shopping centers.  We got to experience a truly local part of Houston that most visitors never see.






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