Exploring Houston Chinatown – Sinh Sinh and Juice Box

29 Jun

On the drive back from spending Memorial Day weekend in Quintana Beach, we stopped in Houston’s Chinatown (Bellaire at Beltway 8 area) for lunch.  Houston’s Chinatown area is vast and concentrated, not scattered out in little shopping centers here and there like in DFW.  Picking out a place for lunch in Houston’s massive Chinatown is not an easy feat.  With half a dozen restaurants in each shopping center (and there’s about 6 or 7 shopping centers), the choices really are endless.  One establishment that has stood the test of time (well, at least since 2003) with its success is Sinh Sinh.

Sinh Sinh is a large freestanding Vietnamese/Cantonese restaurant with a menu to match its physical size and cuisine variety.  I was there with a party of four and after scanning the enormous menu, we decided to go for the easiest thing, the pre-set family menu for four.  The set menu comes with a fish maw soup, walnut chicken, Peking duck, lobster in a ginger-scallion sauce, and seasonal vegetables.  The fish maw soup was standard fare at any Cantonese restaurant, a little bland, nothing spectacular.  I wasn’t looking forward to a generic sounding dish like walnut chicken, the second course.  In my mind, I had pictured some gristly chicken covered in a thick, gelatinous, too sweet sauce sprinkled with crushed walnut.  Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when this arrived on our table:

Walnut Chicken:

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A gorgeous display of tender whitemeat chicken strips, crunchy snow peas, baby corn, straw mushrooms, and glazed sweet walnuts.  No gelatinuous, viscous, mystery sauce in sight.  Though it started out as the course I was dreading the most, this dish turned out to be my favorite of the meal.

Peking Duck:

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Served with steamed dough buns (like small, fluffy tortillas), shredded napa cabbage, and hoisin sauce, it’s the Cantonese version of a taco bar.  Build your own Peking duck taco starting with the buns, pile on desired amount of duck, and top with cabbage and hoisin sauce.  Sinh Sinh separates the skin from the meat on the duck pieces, which is great for those who don’t eat the skin.  They can easily pick up meat-only pieces.  It’s not as great of an idea for those of us who enjoy the contrast of the crispy skin against the moist, tender meat.  It was hard to bite into the skin piece inside the “taco” without dragging it all out at once, leaving only meat left in the “taco.”

Lobster in Ginger-Scallion Sauce:

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The loster was really small and a little overcooked.  But it was still a flavorful dish.  Not as impressive as it sounded on the menu, however. 

Seasonal vegetable was a plate of stir-fried baby bok choy with straw mushrooms.  Baby bok choy is so popular and common in China that its Chinese name literally translates to “green vegetable.”  Yes, it’s the default green vegetable and therefore a very suitable seasonal vegetable.

Total plus tax and tip for the four of us was $60.  Not bad at all considering the feast we were served.  Service was a little on the slow side but polite, but I never expect flawless service at Chinatown restaurants.

Sinh Sinh
9788 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036

After lunch, we went across Bellaire Blvd for some dessert at Juice Box, one of the newer shaved ice joints in Chinatown.  I first discovered this place a year ago or so on accident while trying to find Fu Fu Cafe (same shopping center) and immediately became a huge fan.  Juice Box offers a huge selection of freshly squeezed juices (orange, mango, apple, watermelon, and more depending on the season).

Juice Box Interior:

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But we were there for the shaved ice, which comes in very generous portions (enough for 2 or even 3 people to split).  Shaved ice topped with sweetened condensed milk, fresh fruit chunks (if you order fruit), and a scoop of ice cream.  We had one with mixed fruit (mango, cantaloupe, watermelon, and strawberries), one with mango, and one with red bean.  Delicious summer treats for less than $5 each.

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Juice Box
9889 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036

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One Response to “Exploring Houston Chinatown – Sinh Sinh and Juice Box”

  1. roland 07/02/2007 at 1:53 am #

    shaved ice reminds me of Halo-Halo, a Filipino dessert – yumm!

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