Openings and Closings: Hongdae 33 is Open, Mandito’s Next Week (Houston Press)

August 29, 2023

Hongdae 33 Korean BBQ, 9889 Bellaire Boulevard, opened this week in Chinatown’s Dun Huang Plaza. The all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue hotspot is the newest venture from restaurateurs Grace and Leo Xia, the couple behind Duck N Bao, which has two locations; one in Memorial and another in Cypress.

The pair are both immigrants from China and had dreams of owning a Korean barbecue restaurant after enjoying the experience in Las Vegas. That was put on the back burner as they launched their dim sum concept Duck N Bao in 2019. It quickly became a favorite spot for its Peking duck and soup dumplings.

Grace and Leo Xia make a dream come true.
Photo by Jenn Duncan

Now their vision for a modern Korean barbecue restaurant has come to fruition and they named it after one of the vibrant nightlife districts, Hongdae, in Seoul, Korea. The party atmosphere is reflected in the bright neon lights, dance-y soundtrack and full bar program. It’s also open until 2 a.m. for late night diners and drinkers.

The 33 was added to the name because the number three is considered to be lucky in Chinese culture and it also happens to be the age of one of its owners, Leo.

The glowing cocktails match the neon lights.
Photo by Jenn Duncan

The tables and booths are outfitted with tabletop gas grills and tablemates can select meat, seafood and other specialties for cooking themselves. For grilling, there are USDA Prime meats such as galbi, brisket, beef or pork bulgogi, flat-iron steak, pork belly, pork jowl and chicken. Seafood choices include garlic butter shrimp, spicy baby octopus and spicy ika squid. There are also premium options such as American wagyu beef from R-C Ranch, short rib, NY strip and ribeye. Vegetables and tofu are included as well.

A little touch of Seoul comes to Houston.
Photo by Jenn Duncan

The couple used the same designer from Beijing that is responsible for their Duck N Bao restaurants, with principles of Hanok influencing the custom design elements including kiwa roof tiles for a faux clay roof over the bar and Dae-Deul-Bo wooden crossbeams overhead. Combined with the neon lighting, it’s an energetic and lively atmosphere.

The food pyramid in a “World Famous Burrito Bowl”.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Mandito’s Tex-Mex, 5101 Bellaire Boulevard, opens April 13. The much-anticipated new restaurant comes from Palacios Murphy Hospitality Group, the group behind the longtime Tex-Mex icon Armando’s plus Lulu’s, Popi Burger and Hotel Lulu. Mandito’s means “little Armando” in Spanish which was owner Armando Palacios’ nickname as a child

The new restaurant offers elevated Tex-Mex cuisine with a casual and welcoming backdrop of bright colors, hand-painted turquoise straw light fixtures on the ceiling and color-blocked booths. Designed by New York-based architect Rocco DiLeo, the interior is a blend of old and modern Tex-Mex aesthetic, taking a maximalist approach with repurposed antique wooden shutters and custom prints by graphic designer and artist Sarah Shoemake. The outdoor patio has seating for 42 guests and is climate-controlled which means it is always margarita weather.

Tacos al Carbon are a must at any Tex-Mex restaurant.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

The menu is one of from-scratch Tex-Mex staples such as cheese enchiladas, fajitas and nachos. Its “World Famous Burrito Bowl” offers a lower carb option while vegans will be pleased to find plant-based choices such as the Tex-Mex Kale Salad, Kale & Mushroom Tacos and “Beyond Beef” Crispy Tacos.

In addition to its margaritas and cocktails, there is an extensive agave program curated by beverage consultant Courtney Greenleaf Torren. It offers agave spirits such as raicilla and bacanora along with mezcals and tequilas from various states and regions of Mexico.

The new restaurant will also offer a digital waitlist so patrons can enter their details on their smart phones ahead of time.

A comfortable outdoor patio awaits gatherings of friends.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway

Padre’s Wine Shop + Bar, 3522 White Oak, opens in the Heights April 12. The new gathering spot comes from Padre’s Wine owner William Farley who named the shop in honor of his late father, Mike Farley. The father and son duo shared a love of wine and Padre was the moniker bestowed upon Mike Farley from family, friends and even strangers. Meant to be a bottle shop by day and speakeasy wine bar by night, it offers a selection of boutique wines and a small food menu of paninis, charcuterie boards and light bites.

Owner William Farley and General Manager Nick Nguyen have a focused passion for a creative wine list.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway

Farley has General Manager Nick Nguyen helping him to provide a unique wine experience for the Houston community. Nguyen brings an impressive resume from hospitality groups such as The Riel Group, Musaafer and Kata Robata. Farley and Nguyen have similar visions for the wine retail offerings including a wider and more diverse South American list. The duo also plan to showcase boutique, family-owned wineries that emphasize sustainability and environmental responsibility.

The casual vibe is still modern and chic.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway

The wines are available by the bottle along with a rotating selection of more than 20 options by the glass. Bottle choices range from the low $20s to pricey collectibles.

Texas artists shine next to boutique wine.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway

The 4,000 square-foot space was designed by Dick Clark and Associates, an architecture and design firm out of Austin. The firm used natural colors and textures to create a laid-back, yet chic atmosphere for its half retail and half bar/patio combination. Guests will find a taste of the art-centric Marfa vibe with works by artists Lee Crum and Jose Maria Cundin.

The main entrance is through the bottle shop until 8 p.m. After that, guests may enter the wine bar through the speakeasy-style walkway off the patio.

Customers can pick up some tasty pork bao at the new Dinette Bakery.
Photo by Michael Ma

Dinette Bakery, 1018 N. Shepherd has opened adjacent to its sister restaurant, Dinette, the Vietnamese eatery from Jason Andaya and Ray Chan which opened in July 2022. The bakery, which was teased at the time, offers Vietnamese pastries such as banh pate so (puff pastry pie), in flavors of Chicken Lemongrass, vegetarian Taro Curry, and pho brisket. There’s also milkbread baked buns, scones, Vietnamese sticky rice balls and sweets such as a Pandan choux puff and Milkbread Pandan + Toasted Coconut Cinnamon Roll.

Mung bean sesame balls are on the menu.
Photo by Michael Ma

In addition to its new bakery, Dinette has recently launched its daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is offering all house cocktails for $7 along with a $5 happy hour food menu that includes Vietnamese hushpuppies, pork rinds with honey fish sauce, taro chips and mung bean rice cakes. There’s also a reverse happy hour Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the bar only.

Plans are in the works for a weekend brunch soon.

Chris Kinjo and Miguel Alvarez are celebrating their culinary friendship with a new restaurant.
Photo by Alex Montoya

MF Lobster & Ceviche and Annam are both coming this year to Autry Park, 3711 Autry Park Drive. The two new concepts come from acclaimed restaurateur and sushi master Chris Kinjo of MF Sushi in the Museum District.

MF Lobster & Ceviche is located in a 2,200 square-foot round pod structure situated in the green park space at Autry Park amid mature oak trees. Designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, the round pod space will offer an eight-seat bar, dining for 65 guests plus an outdoor patio with a wood deck and seating for an additional 30 diners.

Floor to ceiling windows, Western red cedar and a circular structure make for a unique dining space.
Photo by Alex Montoya

The Maine lobster-centric restaurant is a partnership between Kinjo and his culinary partner of 23 years, Chef Miguel Alvarez. The menu will showcase Alvarez’s talent with dishes such as lobster bao, lobster tacos and lobster ravioli with handmade pasta. There will also be a number of ceviche options that depend on seasonality and availability including lobster, scallops, halibut, shrimp and swordfish.

Lang Nguyen and Chris Kinjo are serious about their new restaurant.
Photo by Alex Montoya

The second concept from Kinjo is Annam, a Vietnamese and French-inspired restaurant serving tapas that draws on the cuisines of both countries. It harkens back to a time when Vietnam was known as “Annam”. This concept is done in partnership with Dung “Lang” Nguyen, Kinjo’s managing partner of ten years.

Annam’s menu will feature globally-sourced ingredients such as yellow fin tuna and sea bass. The 3,000 square foot restaurant and wine bar is located on the ground floor of Hanover Autry Park high-rise. It will have 56 seats in the dining area, a 16-seat bar and a covered patio.

The Uptown Park location has a European feel.
Photo by sweetgreen

Sweetgreen, 1141 Uptown Park Boulevard, opened April 4 in Uptown Park. It’s the 7th Houston location for the locally-based restaurant concept. The 2,981 square foot location has space for 19 guests inside and 20 on the outdoor patio.

Known for its fast-casual service and health-forward menu, sweetgreen celebrated its opening day by donating a meal in kind for every meal purchased to Brighter Bites, an organization that provides meals and nutrition education to underserved elementary school students and their families.

Its popular salads and bowls offer a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. The March release of the Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl hit a snag when the fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill sent a cease and desist notice asking sweetgreen to drop the “Chipotle” from its dish’s name. It then filed a complaint April 4 accusing sweetgreen of trademark infringement, trademark dilution and deceptive trade practice, according to NPR.

On April 6, it was reported that sweetgreen agreed to rename the menu item to resolve the lawsuit. It will now be called the Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl, according to CNBC.

Shipley Do-nuts, 2999 S. Richey, opened April 3 in South Houston. While its signature hot glazed donut was its original best seller, it does serve a number of other doughnut flavors, as well as cinnamon rolls, twists, glazed and sprinkled donut holes and kolaches. And always a decent cup of coffee.

The home-grown doughnut franchise was founded in Houston in 1936 by Lawrence Shipley Sr. for the wholesale market at 1417 Crockett. In the 1940s it went into the retail market. Now, there are more than 350 stores in 10 states. It remained in the family, with Lawrence W. Shipley III as president, until 2021 when it was sold to Austin’s Peak Rock Capital. It has since been on a steamroll of expansions, including a number of new states.

Karbach released its Mexican-style lager this past January.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Karbach Brewing Co., 2032 Karbach, is hoping to open its Karbach Pizzeria in fall 2023, according to a source who said, “but don’t quote me on that.” It is part of a plan to offer pizzas, garlic knots and casual fare at the new pizzeria with an eye to serving more elevated cuisine at its current adjacent restaurant. With its brewhouse, catering facilities, biergarten, restaurant and Swag Shoppe, the source said the aim is to make it a ‘Karblock’.

While many of its beers can be found in bars, restaurants and stores across Houston and the rest of Texas, its F.U.N. (Fucking Unbelievable Nectar) series of beers is available only at the brewery itself, on tap. The brew campaign allows employees at Karbach to get involved with the creative process and this month it has released Fortune Patch, a blackberry kettle sour from Innovation Brewer Tim Spencer. National Beer Day is April 7 for those who want to celebrate with a new brew.

Karbach is also hosting its 2023 Love Street Music Fest April 15 with Austin-based rock band Spoon headlining. Jukebox the Ghost and Mind Shrine will also perform. General Admission and VIP tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.

Urban South Brewery, 1201 Oliver, will celebrate its third anniversary April 8 beginning at noon. There will be new beers dropped including a triple IPA and a slushy sour. There will also be tarot card reading by Ancestral Hottie Tarot Readings. It’s a family-friendly do with face painting, balloon art, a dunk tank, and a huge carousel bounce house. A variety of vendors will be popping up, too.

It’s offering its Anniversary Party Package ($60) for pre-sale to be picked up April 8, beginning at 11 a.m. It is only available for pre-order. It includes one can of each collaboration beer for a total of 8 brews. It also contains an anniversary logo glass and one wristband, good for three pours of any beer or seltzer which can be used at the party or any other time. Make sure to choose the Houston location and not the New Orleans brewery. However, the NOLA Urban South Brewery is celebrating its 7th anniversary the same day if you’re in the mood for a road trip.

Original Article:

Phone: (346) 980 8106
Opening Hours:
Sun-Thur: 11:30AM-12:00AM
Fri-Sat: 11:30AM-2:00AM
9889 Bellaire Blvd #D-229,
Houston, TX 77036
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