19 Essential Restaurants in Houston’s Asiatown (Eater) – Hongdae 33 Korean BBQ
19 Essential Restaurants in Houston’s Asiatown (Eater)
August 29, 2023
There’s no denying it: Houston’s Asiatown is one of the best in the country. What started out as a thriving community near East Downtown has blossomed into a pillar of Southwest Houston found around Bellaire Boulevard. The evolved and bustling neighborhood is home to a diverse population of residents and a dizzying array of Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, and Vietnamese restaurants.
As such, there are plenty of places to eat during your visit. But where do you start in one of Houston’s best dining areas? This map of the area’s 20 essential restaurants combines neighborhood favorites, chef-approved picks, and newcomers that are poised to continue Asiatown’s reign as one of the top places to dine in Houston.
Some notable places like Shabu Zone and Two Hands Corn Dogs have been rotated out to make room for other places to explore like Hongdae 33, Kim Son, and Shabu²
Hongdae 33 Korean BBQ
The owners of Duck N Bao recently opened this all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant in Asiatown’s Dun Huang Plaza. Priced at $33 per guest, guests are welcome to enjoy their choice of meats and seafood — all grilled in the center of the table — along with banchan during a 90-minute window. As a bonus, the restaurant features a menu of South Korean spirits like soju and makgeolli.
The crown jewel in restaurateur Mike Tran’s growing empire, Mein is one of the city’s best spots for Cantonese cuisine. The housemade noodles are a star of the menu, made from scratch daily and tossed in XO sauce or served with a variety of meats, veggies, garnishes, and broth on the side. The crispy duck leg, served with tender pancakes, is also a must.
9630 Clarewood Dr Ste A-131, Houston, TX
Dim Sum King
Dim Sum King has been in operation for over a decade and continues to provide Houstonians with dim sum dishes galore. Whether it’s the steamed shrimp dumplings, rice soup with pork blood, spareribs, chicken feet, or king crab shu mai, Dim Sum King offers an array of flavors and dumplings that don’t disappoint.
9160 Bellaire Blvd # B, Houston, TX 77036
Launched in 2007 with the goal to share some of the most riveting aspects of Korean cuisine, this national restaurant chain is a top spot for Korean BBQ in Asiatown. Head to the Asiatown location in a group and start with an appetizer, like warm tofu or kimchi and pork soup and an order of pan-fried or steamed dumplings. Then, dive into cuts of marinated barbecue beef, pork, and chicken that you grill in the middle of your table.
9140 Bellaire Blvd Suite B, Houston, TX 77036
House of Bowls
Indulge in Hong Kong-style Chinese cuisine at this popular Asiatown spot, where comforting bowls of congee and plates of beef chow fun are choice go-tos. Other highlights include the crispy fried chicken wings and dangerously decadent French toast, served with your choice of peanut butter and a sweetened condensed milk drizzle.
6650 Corporate Dr, Houston, TX
One Dragon Restaurant
For the best soup dumplings and crispy-bottomed bao in Asiatown, no place holds a candle to One Dragon Restaurant. A mom-and-pop shop with just 10 tables, the husband is the cook, while the wife runs the front of the house. Staff are friendly, and there’s always a wait during peak hours. Beyond the dumplings, highlights on this Shanghainese menu include braised pork belly, seasonal vegetable plates, and the crispy red bean dessert.
9310 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036
Mala Sichuan Bistro
Bring a crowd and order one of the excellently-priced group meals at this James Beard-nominated Sichuan eatery, which comes with a variety of house favorites like water boiled fish, cumin beef, pot-roasted tilapia, and a selection of appetizers. For solo diners, the mapo tofu and red oil dumplings are not to be missed. Beyond its Asiatown outpost, Mala has four other locations in and around the city.
9348 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX
Northern Pasta is one of the go-to places in the city for hand-pulled noodles. The care and attention that is placed on the noodles give added flavor and texture to dishes like oil-splashed noodles, Liang Pi cold noodles, and a variety of dumplings. The restaurant also offer a Chinese hamburger with seasoned pork and crisp vegetables.
9256 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036
This beloved OG Asiatown restaurant does a little bit of everything. Want Chinese barbecue? Roast duck, roast pork, soy sauce chicken, and char siu can be eaten in or taken to go. Want live seafood? The tanks house everything from live king crab to spot prawns and fresh fish. Hot pot and stir fry, fried rice, and noodles are also on offer. The key here is to order multiple dishes and enjoy them family style.
9788 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036
Hai Cang Harbor
Since 2013, this Asiatown establishment has been offering its take on Chinese and Vietnamese seafood, with dishes like peppercorn Dungeness crab — as visually appealing as is is delicious. The black pepper lobster, crab fried rice, king crab, and walnut shrimp are more than enough to satisfy a seafood lover, but if looking for a different form of protein, try the Peking duck with a side of snow peas.
11768 Bellaire Blvd #2452, Houston, TX 77072
Tao Rice Roll
With three locations in Sugar Land, Plano, and Houston, this Taiwanese breakfast spot has earned rave reviews for its rice rolls and savory crepes filled with fix-ins like kimchi, egg, seafood, bacon, sausage, and more. Try their soy milk that’s offered sweet or salted.
9889 Bellaire Blvd E207, Houston, TX 77036
Crawfish & Noodles
Viet-Cajun crawfish is a Houston staple, and this Asiatown restaurant offers up one of the city’s best takes. Mudbugs are big and juicy, the seasoning is spicy, and there’s plenty of beer to cool down with. If crustaceans aren’t your thing, there are a variety of noodle and rice dishes, plus hot pots and curried goat on offer.
11360 Bellaire Blvd Ste 990, Houston, TX
Belly up to one of Houston’s best bowls of pho at this chef-endorsed pho spot. A loyal crowd of regulars, including lauded chef Justin Yu, swear by its noodle soup as one of the best lunches in town and an ideal hangover cure. If the pho craving strikes late, head to its sister shop Pho Binh By Night for noodles from 4 p.m. to midnight.
18027 Bellaire Blvd Suite #116, Houston, TX
For traditional pull cart service and delicate dumplings, head to this dim sum haven known for its truffle shu mai, tofu pork rolls with oyster sauce, and delicious, steamed mushroom and chicken bao. Be warned — this place gets packed with lines winding outside of the building, but service is usually swift.
11215 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77072
Find traditional Malaysian cuisine in a fast-casual setting at Banana Leaf. The Penang assam laksa, or hot and sour noodles in fish broth are worth writing home about, as is the restaurant’s housemade roti with curry dipping sauce.
9889 Bellaire Blvd #311, Houston, TX
Alpha Bakery & Deli
Arguably the most popular banh mi spot in Hong Kong Mall 4, Alpha Bakery is a budget-friendly lunch destination. Traditional oblong bread rolls are smeared with house-made pate and mayo, filled to the brim with proteins like grilled pork or shu mai meatballs, then topped with pickled carrots, daikon, jalapeno, cucumber, cilantro, and a few dashes of Maggi. Try thethit nguoi cold cut, which is the most popular.
11209 Bellaire Blvd # C-02, Houston, TX 77072
Spotlighted on David Chang’sHouston episode of Ugly Delicious, this modest family-run restaurant specializes in Central Vietnamese cuisine. People fall head over heels for the steamed rice cake saucers called banh beo chen and the chewy glutinous shrimp dumplings (banh quai vac).Regional specialties likebun bo hue (spicy lemongrass beef noodle soup) and mi quang (turmeric noodles with pork and shrimp) are also solid picks.
6938 Wilcrest Dr, Houston, TX 77072
Known for its iconic all-you-can-eat buffet, Kim Son is one of the city’s essential Vietnamese restaurants and should be on every Houstonian’s dining bucket list. Find an array of dim sum, grilled meats, fried foods, noodle bowls, jelly drinks, teas, desserts, and more. Come hungry — going back for seconds (and thirds) is encouraged.
10603 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77072
As its name playfully suggests, this restaurant puts the spotlight on Japanese-style hot pot, aka shabu shabu. Choose from proteins like sirloin bavette, filet mignon, pork belly, and prime ribeye and watch your meat cook in boiling hot bowls of broth that are available in 6-, 8-, or 14-ounce sizes. Add fish balls with roe or a whole egg to amp up your pot.