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Poke, according to some of the pundits out there, is “the trending food” in Houston right now.  Sigh.  While something trending can be a good thing if it gets folks to break out of their old habits and try something new, just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good.  However, if anyone is making good food, it will speak for itself with proof of concept being in the eating and so on.  Thankfully in my Westchase ‘hood, there is a Poke place that’s been open a little over a month called North Shore Poke Co.  that has been building an audience very well due to a great product.  Full disclosure: it is part of a 4 location chain based out of Huntington Beach, California and is producing a dish that originated in Hawaii.  But first a little background:

North Shore Poke Company is a family-run business entirely dedicated to creating mind-blowing good Hawaiian poke that opened in March 2012 in Huntington Beach, CA. Just one block shy of Main Street. It was while serving in the Coast Guard Chef Shawn Gole caught the Poke bug and wondered why even Hawaiian restaurants on the mainland were overlooking this tasty fish offering. Shawn teamed up with his father and pastry chef sister, Melissa Gole-Vasquez to bring a Poke fix to Orange County.  Since then, four other locations have made landfall, with the first in Houston opening in February of 2017!  

But for the uninitiated, let’s talk about what Poke is first.  Per Hawaii Magazine: The word poke (pronounced poh-keh) is Hawaiian, meaning “to slice or cut crosswise into pieces.” The basic poke mixture of cubed raw ahi (tuna), salty seaweed, and crunchy sweet onions.  The poke first eaten by native Hawaiians was a simple mixture of raw fish, Hawaiian salt, seaweed and chopped kukui nuts (called inamona in Hawaiian). Post-colonial contact, that basic recipe got a bit more interesting with the introduction of onions and, sometimes, tomatoes to the mix. Go to most fish markets in Hawaii today and you’ll find a wide selection of poke—from tako (octopus) with ginger and garlic to tofu in shoyu with watercress and tomato. We’ve seen poke recipes with raw crab, cooked shrimp, clams, smoked salmon, pipi kaula (dried and smoked beef), even seared ribeye steak. There are now hundreds of poke recipes in Hawaii for every kind of taste.  So, think of typical sushi ingredients, served more as a salad, in a bowl, on a base of steamed rice or greens such as cucumber.  The Menu at North Shore features what would be considered standard sushi ingredients for mixing in your Poke bowl.

We visited North Short Poke Co. over a couple of different days to try a few different items on their menu.  We found the fish to be fresh, we found the food to be full of flavour and the staff to be friendly.  In the photos on the left, you see two of their Latin Inspired Poke Dishes:  the Waimea style Poke Nachos (Waimea Style Salmon Poke Over Tortilla Chips. Topped with House Hot Sauce & Furikake).  This is a cool yet spicy crunchy sushi nacho treat!  As my daughter Helena is a Fish Taco fan, she went for the Fish Tacos (Waimea style salmon poke, Sunset, or Pipeline Poke. Topped w/ Cabbage on Corn Tortilla).  This Echos the trip to San Diego long ago where I first tried fish tacos, but with a different twist–a sushi style salmon hit with some spice.  Grades: A and A+ respectively.


On one of the other visits, we hit up some different styles of poke bowls in the proper sense.  The photos show clockwise from the top:  A Pipeline Bowl with Avocado added (Mix of Ahi Tuna and Salmon, Sushi Nori seasoning, Pipeline sauce, Avocado, Mangoes over steamed Jasmine rice); Jason’s built it yourself bowl with Salmon, Soy Sauce, Sushi Nori seasoning, with steamed Jasmine rice; and a Waimeia Bowl (Salmon, Waimeia spicy mayo sauce, Nori Seasoning, Macadamia nuts, onions).  The main commonality we found was good, cool fresh sushi grade fish, great seasoning and fresh steamed rice.  The Waimea sauce is creamy yet spicy, full of umami.  The Spicy soy in the Pipeline is like a robust brewed vineagar with a little heat.  Everyone enjoyed what they ordered that is for sure!  Grades: A+, A and A+ respectively.  



I’ll be checking out a number of other new and established Houston area Poke joints over the next several weeks.  North Shore being in my local neighborhood and having a great product has already set a good precedent.  As my pal Jack Long has said “It is good to live in Houston if you love to eat a diverse batch of food!”


North Shore Poke Co. is located in Westchase at:

11195 Westheimer Rd 
Near Westhimer/Wilcrest
Houston, TX  77042
281 888-1946

Open 7 Days a week
11:30 am-9pm

Eat Happy, Y’all!!! 
吃得开心!!!
Ai, Pōmaikaʻi, o oukou a pau!!!
Hank
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Ramen has always been a staple of college students as an inexpensive, flavourful and filling meal.  The higher end version, still reasonably priced, has been available at many an Asian restaurant over the years.  The highest end version of this wonderful noodle dish is usually fully loaded with meat, veggies, soft boiled eggs, and a plethora of seasonings in marrow broths, curries and all kinds of sauces.  Since the opening of Tiger Den on Bellaire a few years ago, Houston has had a number of the higher end Ramen restaurants open up and enjoy some success due to the city’s appetite for all kinds of different foods, Ramen included.  Agu-a Ramen Bistro which has become a staple in Hawaii since 2013 made its first jump to the mainland, bypassing California and the West Coast and landing with both feet in the Houston area.  Here’s a bit more about them from their website.

“A harmony of aroma and complex flavors is affirmation of my love for the art of ramen.
Steeped deep within the noodles, is a reverence for life and the Japanese culture.
However, these bowls of passion can only reach perfection,
if I succeed in passing on their secrets to future generations.”— Chef Hisashi Uehara

We don’t just love ramen, we live ramen! Not long ago, a group of savvy business partners sat together enjoying a beer and doodling ideas on their cocktail napkins. In 2013, their collective dream of a high-end ramen house became reality when AGU a Ramen Bistro opened with fanfare at its first location at the Saint Louis Alumni Association in Honoloulu. A recipe for instant success, more AGU locations sprang up on Oahu over the next couple of years.

Hisashi Uehara, Executive Chef and Owner, named his premier ramen bistros, “AGU” which means “fellowship” or “best friends” in Miyako, his native Okinawa dialect. Every day, more than 1,560 pounds of pork bones are slowly boiled at an extremely high heat for over 24 hours in order to create AGU’s signature, creamy yet hearty, tonkotsu broth. The resulting enticing rich flavor speaks of the love that goes into every bowl. Tonkotsu Ramen is considered by many to be the “king of ramen”.

All of the soups and dishes served at AGU are made with only the freshest, exceptional ingredients. The rich, clear chicken broth is made using organic, cage-free Jidori chicken that has been raised on a vegetarian diet. Our noodles are made fresh daily from a special house recipe. However good ingredients are not enough to create AGU’s specialty soups and dishes. Our chefs are dedicated to preparing each item with perfection, patience and a little extra Aloha! Our ramen cannot be rushed!

Karaage Fried Chicken

Delicious Tonkatsu Ramen in thick broth with all the trimmings or a nice Jidori Ramen are a welcome bowl of comfort to me and my kiddos.  On a recent day off from school the three of us headed to the location at 9310 Westheimer Rd near Chuy’s.  This is one of 3 locations already open in the greater Houston area with plans for 3 more opening this quarter of 2017.  Agu’s Menu includes all levels of Ramen and ingredients from the very basic Shoyu Ramen to the sublime Innovative Hot Mess and plenty of variations in between.  They also have a good variety of small plates/sides, including Spicy Kim Chi, Gyoza Dumplings, Kicked up Fries and Karaage (a special moist and crunchy fried chicken, picture on the right.)  We came hungry and tried a few things!

We went with two variations on the Tonkatsu Ramen–one with Miso, the other a Spicy Kotteri Ramen, as well as Karaage Fried Chicken.  The Spicy Kotteri Ramen is made with bonito-infused shoyu tare with a choice of spice level (hot but not blistering for me) and
topped with fresh house made pork char siu, aji tamago*, crunchy menma, fried garlic chips, fresh negi & sesame seed.  I elected to add a Jidori soft boiled egg for good measure.  This Ramen was prepared and served piping hot and had a great, savoury scent from the pork, the broth, the onions, peppers, spices, sesame and other wonderful ingredients.  A nice garnish of fresh green onions and half a soft boiled egg crowned this lovely bowl of noodles and it proved to be very photogenic on this sunny day.  When it came to the eating, there was no disappointment.  The broth was rich, had a nice oily marrow essence to it and it teemed with chewy, satisfying ramen noodles.  A Bit of Heat hit at the end, clearing out the ol’ sinuses. Everything delivered as advertised, no disappointments!

Miso Tonkatsu Ramen

The Miso Tonkatsu ramen has a traditional rich & hearty broth full of robust flavors, with a unique blend of miso and an additional topping of sweet corn. It also includes the fresh house made pork char siu, aji tamago*, crunchy menma, fresh negi & sesame seeds.  The kids wanted a Jidori egg in the mix as well–always a good call.  This ramen was less spicy, more smooth and salty–more to the kids tastes.  The sesame seeds add a bit of a nutty essence to the mix and add a layer of texture to the umami and the other sensations.  The two of them ate the full contents of their bowls with glee.  And the Karaage fried chicken is crunchy outside, moist inside, has a great flavour much like the salt and pepper wings from House of Bowls.  Had I not already eaten a substantial bowl of Ramen, I might have craved waffles with that Karaage chicken.

Report Card for Agu Ramen on Westheimer:
Food:

     Spicy Kotteri Ramen: A+
     Miso Ramen: A
     Karaage Fried Chicken: A
Service:
     Speed: A
     Friendliness: A
Cleanliness:  
     Dining area: A+
     Bar: A
Atmosphere: 
     High End Ramen Bistro/Bar: A

Overall Grade: A

Agu Ramen has 3 open Houston locations now, with 3 more to open 1st Quarter 2017.  We went to the location at:

9310 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77063
(832) 582-5530

Hours:
7 Days a Week
11 AM til 10 PM

Eat Happy, Y’all!!!
吃得开心!!!
あなたは幸せに食べる!!!
Hank

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State Fare 947 Gessner b190, Houston, TX 77024 http://statefarehouston.com I had a two hour lunch/brunch media tasting at State Fare and barely made a dent in their 65+ item menu! Their brunch will be available every Saturday and Sunday starting this weekend from 10 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. New brunch items include Avocado Street Corn […]

The post State Fare Tantalizes with Larger than Life Brunch Items appeared first on Girl Eats World.

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Honey Art Cafe 3516 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77098 http://www.honeyartcafe.com/ I was scrolling through instagram and a friend in Houston posted a beautiful photo of the newly opened Honey Art Cafe. It was so pretty I made it my first priority when I came into Houston last weekend. I tried to beat the sunset […]

The post Honey Art Cafe Inspires Houston With Colors And Art appeared first on Girl Eats World.

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Liberty Kitchen in Austin Now!

On September 18, 2015 By

507 Pressler Ste 700 Austin, TX 78703 (512) 840-1330 http://libertykitchenatx.com Last week I had the pleasure of dining with my friend South Austin Foodie at Liberty Kitchen at a media tasting. I’m a big fan of light. Natural light, starlight, twinkle light. I want to go back to Liberty Kitchen at night to see their […]

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Fat Cat Creamery, a Houston ice cream parlor, is one of […]

The post Fat Cat Creamery – Houston Ice Cream appeared first on Hungry in Houston.

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I’m a fan of BBQ but I’ve never been that i […]

The post Roegels Barbecue Co. – Good BBQ in Houston appeared first on Hungry in Houston.

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Howdy folks. I’m just going to come right out and […]

The post Oxheart Houston Restaurant Review appeared first on Hungry in Houston.

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I want to love Underbelly, I really do. But they make i […]

The post Underbelly Houston Restaurant Review appeared first on Hungry in Houston.

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Dear Readers, this is a heads up:  Although this website will always be primarily about food, sometimes it will be about Lifestyle and Experiences.  Y’all have already seen my takes on Top Golf Houston, which has great food/beverage as well as is a SUPERIOR driving range, and the Alamo Drafthouse, which offers a wonderful movie experience alongside great craft beer and food.  This awesome, fun, over the top adventure I’m writing about, I do not recommend eating a heavy meal before experiencing.  However, it is located near many great Houston dining venues, and offers an experience like no other places in our area at this point.  I’m talking about iFly Houston: an Indoor Skydiving Wind tunnel that is extreme fun for the whole family!  I was fortunate enough to get two great flight instructors:  Mark Keller and Boo Dacious who were VERY PATIENT with me.  This was some kind of fun!

It’s recommended that you make a booking in advance.  This location is VERY BUSY–many Houston Skydivers have been waiting for a place like iFly to set up for a LONG TIME and they are in there training for freefall!  Some of them do all kinds of formations, poses, positions and are clearly having a blast while doing so.  I was a newbie, so I had to take a little time to watch an instructional video and be coached.  I also had to make sure that I cleared the restrictions.   Most of these make sense given how fast the air moves in this wind tunnel.  The other thing is that you need to learn proper hand, foot and body position, be sure to hip your chin up, relax you body and of course BREATHE!  Again, I was very fortunate to have two experienced instructors and skydivers who clearly enjoy what they do.  These fellas worked with KPRC’s Ruben Galvan and KHOU’s Ron Trevino & Darby Douglas.  I was especially glad they’d worked with Darby as he and I are both a bit on the hefty side, but within the weight restrictions.  Mark & Boo told me that the heftier fellas often do very well because being front heavy helps you get into a proper position with arms and legs up more naturally.  Ahem… okay then!  Because the wind tunnel is noisy, you’ll have ear plugs on so communication is done with hand signals like with SCUBA diving.

Some company info per their website:

iFLY Houston is the third indoor skydiving facility in Texas and uses the most advanced wind tunnel technology in the world! It’s a 14ft climate-controlled and re-circulating vertical tunnel with 1600 horsepower. In addition to serving up fun to the general public, it also serves as a great training facility for skydivers coming from drop-zones all over Texas. It’s safe for kids, challenging for adults, exciting for teens, and realistic for skydivers. No experience necessary, and we provide all gear and instruction! Get the thrill and feeling of skydiving without having to jump out of an airplane. No parachutes are required, and you can learn to fly in a safe and controlled environment.

Flyers should wear a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.  Sneakers need to be fastened securely.  Other items need to be locked up in the proved lockers.  Sorry, no cell phone selfies allowed in the Wind Tunnel!  Boo & Steve also made it very clear that this place is called iFly, NOT iHOLD!  They want you to be able to fly and only grab onto you for necessary stabilization.  It takes some experience to get your “air legs” and I for one was anxious to give this a try.  I used to enjoy watching skydiving formations on ABC’s Wide World of Sports when I was a kid and actual solo skydiving is on my bucket list.  However, because of having kids who need their dad around, I am delaying the plane jump until they’re grown up.  A facility like iFly Houston can give you that kind of experience without the risk of your going splat and turning into road pizza.

After about 30 minutes of instruction and a great tour of the facility,Mark & Boo said I was ready to try it out.  One of my videos is on the left.  As you can see, the experience is fun, kind of interesting and the wind tunnel is loud.  It is NOT like swimming in water at all.  It is very much like being caught in a tornado or feeling like you are in Free Fall.  The wind is noisy, but amazingly it holds you aloft when you’re in the correct body position, even a hefty fella like myself.  Also, the flight staff are very friendly and are true professionals.  They made the experience a good deal of fun, and as you can see from the video, a very UPLIFTING experience!

Mark Keller and Boo Dacious
Awesome Flight Instructors! 

But wait, that is not all!  Here’s a few other things you might want to know about iFly:

All their instructors have several hundred hours of training, both as experienced skydivers as well as with the wind tunnel.

Many companies do team building exercises at iFly–they have a boardroom style meeting area, with computers and WiFi Hookups, large projection TV to do presentations as well.

Birthday Parties can be booked with your own catered food brought in.  They have great group rates for your events.

They also do educational programs that are great for science classes–ESPECIALLY PHYSICS!!

They also are starting a kids’ club for after school on Monday for those who want to learn the ways of skydiving in a safe environment close to Terra Firma as well.

And of course, there are many great restaurants close by such as Jonathan’s the Rub, The Burger Shack Grill, Russo’s, FreeB!rd’s and many, many more!  Again, I recommend saving the food for AFTER YOU FLY!

Report Card for iFly Houston Memorial: 

Book your flight soon!!!


Service:
     Staff Knowledge: A++ 
     Staff Friendliness: A++
     Patience with Clients: A++

Facility:
     Cleanliness: A++
     Equipment: A++
     Design (Modern, Flight, Space Age): A++

Experience:
     Excitement: A+++++
     Challenge: A++
     Education: A+

Value:
     2 Solo Flights for about 2 minutes each, plus 2 Videos costs $90 plus tax.
     EXCELLENT VALUE!  A+!!!

Overall Grade:   A+++  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

iFly Houston is located at:
9540 Katy Fwy
Houston, TX 77055
281 942 4359

Hours of Operation
Mon-Thu: 10 AM to 10 PM
Fri: 9 AM to 11 PM
Sat: 10 AM to 11 PM
Sun: 9 AM to 10 PM

I want to thank Mark Keller and Boo Dacious for their patience in training this fella on the basics of flying.  I will be doing this again soon!

Fly Happy, Y’all!!!
飞得开心!
Hank

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