Mayanoki Serves Sushi Lovers a Traditional 15-piece Omakase Menu Every Week

New York’s first and only sustainable sushi restaurant and omakase, Mayanoki serves local, seasonal and environmentally-friendly fish in an intimate East Village setting.  Chef Jeff Miller, formerly of the Uchi group in Texas, mans the sushi bar by himself as he serves a 15-piece omakase of fish often rarely used by sushi chefs.  While the guiding principle is on preserving fish stocks for years to come, the results are never less than delicious.

mayanoki interior
Mayanoki Interior

The idea behind Mayanoki didn’t start out with sustainability. At their original pop-up, co-founders Josh Arak and David Torchiano simply wanted to serve really great sushi, but as they began to understand how the conventional sushi supply chain works, they knew they didn’t want to contribute to the negative impact it has on the environment – nor to consume or serve endangered fish species.  They decided that to operate a restaurant they were proud of, they would have to focus on sourcing from sustainable purveyors.

Mayanoki’s beginnings a longtime Brooklyn pop-up

Mayanoki began its life as a pop-up at Brooklyn Oenology in 2012, where it stayed for 4 years.  There, Josh and David met the winery’s general manager, TJ Provenzano, who later joined their team as co-owner and beverage director, bringing his wealth of knowledge of local and sustainable wines to the restaurant’s opening in 2017.

The counter is run by Chef Jeff Miller, who prior to moving to New York late last year, was the Head Sushi Chef at renowned restaurant Uchi in Houston.  Chef Miller has been making sushi for over a decade since 2007 when he moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida. His career started when he walked into Dragonfly Sushi and Sake and was confused with a friend of the owner, who was also supposed to start working there that day.

Sushi Chef Jeff Miller | Mayanoki

He was offered a job on the spot without any training, but quickly proved himself and stayed for five years. He then relocated to Texas to work with the popular sushi restaurant Uchiko in Austin. He quickly moved up the ranks within the restaurant group, opening
Uchi Dallas as Sous Chef, and later Uchi Houston as Head Sushi Chef.

Sushi fans will love this fifteen piece omakase delight

Mayanoki serves a traditional 15-piece omakase menu where guests can watch how their sushi is prepared and learn firsthand where it comes from.  A list of wine and ciders from New York State, sakes from Japan, and an optional wine, cider and sake pairing are offered.

With a penchant for sourcing almost exclusively from the East Coast and the Northeast, the omakase menu at Mayanoki changes nightly based on availability and seasonality.  Many fish are rarely seen on sushi menus, while endangered species like Bluefin Tuna and Atlantic Salmon are never served.

Santa Barbara Uni & Ikura | Mayanoki

Instead, sustainably raised and ethically caught species are highlighted (sourced as locally as possible), including Bluefish, Porgy from Long Island, Spanish Mackerel from Florida, Shrimp from ECO Shrimp Garden Upstate New York, Arctic Char sustainably farmed in Iceland, Almaco Jack from the Big Island in Hawaii, and mussels from Prince Edward Island.

The course of the Omakase dinner at Mayanoki

While the menu changes daily depending on fish availability, it often starts with a piece of dashi marinated oyster nigiri topped with roe.  This is the perfect introduction to Mayanoki’s eco-friendly practices as it highlights their partnership with the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative that seeks to restore the health of the New York Harbor using empty oyster shells donated by restaurants to repair the marine ecosystem.

Other fish include: Bluefish, an oily fish similar to mackerel found on the East Coast, cured in salt then vinegar and aged in the traditional Edomae style for 3-5 days before being served.  This lends an umami taste to the fish and makes it more tender. Porgy from Long Island is offered fresh with soy sauce and Meyer lemon zest.

Spanish Mackerel | Mayanoki

Spanish Mackerel often makes two appearances throughout the meal: first, it is seared with a torch and finished with a white ponzu sauce, light soy sauce and a sprinkle of Oregon sea salt.  The second preparation involves chives and sesame salt after cold smoking the fish for 30 minutes with walnut wood.

True Diver Scallops from Maine come with fresh and fermented Meyer lemon , and Spanish olive oil.  Shrimp from ECO Shrimp Garden – the first indoor sustainable shrimp farm in New York, which uses systems that recirculate salt water from the tanks and leaves almost no carbon footprint – is cured and seared with a torch, then drizzled with shrimp
heads oil.

The optional alcoholic beverage pairing

Unique to Mayanoki is their beverage program, with wines, ciders and beverage pairings unusual to most sushi restaurants.  Guided by deliciousness and sustainability, Beverage Director TJ Provenzano sources all of the wines and ciders from New York State’s small producers, from crisp Hudson Valley apple ciders to dry Finger Lakes Riesling to barrel-aged Long Island Sauvignon Blanc.

The pairing, which is optional but highly recommended, accentuates the sushi first, and elevates each course by not overpowering or dominating, but enhancing it.  North Fork wines especially with their maritime climate, sandy soil, and subtle salinity have proven to be truly unique and seamless pairings with local species. The only exception to local sourcing are junmai sakes – the only product brought from Japan.

Bluefish | Mayanoki

The intimate dinners are hosted by Service Director Briana Emerson-Provenzano, the former beverage curator and assistant general manager of al di la Trattoria. In fact, the warm, intimate space has a private home like ambience.  With just eight seats at the bar, guests can watch Chef Miller cut and prepare the fish right in front of them.  The experience is designed to be interactive, whether asking the chef questions about the fish or chatting with fellow diners.  It feels like eating at a friend’s house, in the best way possible.

Mayanoki is located at 620 East 6th Street in the East Village; no phone.  The restaurants serves its omakase dinner menu Wednesday – Sunday with seatings at 6:30pm and 8:30pm.

Reservations are required and can be made via Resy.com.

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Sen Sakana is a Taste of Peru and New York City’s First Nikkei Kitchen

In a place where you would image every type of food to exist, it’s pretty amazing that Sen Sakana is New York City’s first Nikkei kitchen. The Peruvian Japanese restaurant—you got that right, Peruvian Japanese—is actually a cuisine that is over a hundred years old. Wondering how on earth the cuisines of two countries that are an ocean apart might co-mingle in the concept of Sen Sakana in the heart of Manhattan?

Chicken Nanban | Sen Sakana

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The gastronomy of Peru is as complex as it is rich. From its indigenous Incan cuisine, to the influences of the Spanish, and even the Italians and the Chinese, Peru has a history of embracing the ingredients and traditions of others with their own. A sort of believe in strength in diversity when it comes to food that today has Peru at the top of the world’s food destinations.

When Japanese immigrants made their way over to Peru in the 1900’s to work on the country’s railroads, they eventually intertwined their traditions with that of the Peruvians, resulting in today’s Nikkei style of cuisine that Peru is well-known for.

Nikkei Ceviche | Sen Sakana

At Sek Sakana guests can experience dishes like Tiradito, where sashimi meets ceviche, like big eye tuna rolled with sprouts and pickled radish, nestled atop a spicy jalapeno cilantro sauce; the Causa Onigiri, the Peruvian take on a Japanese rice ball with yellow and purple potatoes; Salchipapas, Peru’s classic street food with miso mustard and kurobuta sausage; and a Japanese chicken curry empanada. Stop in for lunch or dinner at Sen Sakana to give these modern Nikkei dishes a try, and you’ll get a taste of Peru’s deeply rooted history of innovative cuisine.

Sen Sakana is located at 28 West 44th Street, New York, NYC 10036. For more information about the restaurant, visit it’s website.

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Pop into DC’s Bantam King’s Chicken Ramen 101 Class and Learn Everything about this Popular Japanese Dish

The first time I ever had a bowl of ramen at a restaurant, I was completely at a loss as to how to eat it. The giant bowl of spicy broth and tender noodles tantalized my senses, so I dug in anyway. Don’t quote me on this, but there may have been a fork involved which I may have used to twirl the noodles on the spoon like a bowl of spaghetti. As such, I may have gotten a few funny looks from fellow diners. I was hooked after that first bowl, but still never quite knew if I was doing it right until I was properly educated.

Bantam King Chicken Ramen 101
Our education began this summer when we previewed Shaw ramen shop Haikan, but really came full circle after we attended Bantam King’s Chicken Ramen 101 class recently. Led by Chef Katsuya Fukushima, Daisuke Utagawa and Yama Jewayni, the masterminds behind Daikaya, Haikan and Bantam King, three of DC’s top ramen restaurants.

For those who haven’t been to Bantam King yet, I suggest you make a trip immediately. The space, which is housed in a former Burger King (get it?), is lively and fun and just a joy to look at.

Bantam King decor

chicken ramen
This was my first visit, and I instantly fell in love with the Japanese pop culture decor, the ample light streaming in from the windows and the laid-back atmosphere that plays heavily on the building’s fast food past. I have to admit I’d somewhat avoided Bantam King in the past because, well, I don’t love chicken and chicken is definitely king at this ramen shop.

Don’t get me wrong, I like fried chicken and will certainly eat a nice chicken dinner at home but it’s rarely something I seek out at a restaurant. However, I quickly learned that nothing about the chicken offered at Bantam King is ordinary. Far from the slimy, chewy poultry I’ve come to dread eating, every morsel I tasted was high quality and full of flavor.

Bantam King DC

Chicken Ramen 101

Each Chicken Ramen 101 class includes complimentary soft drinks, including a selection of Japanese tea, iced coffee and sodas. The Royal Milk Tea is a delight, and a nice cooling drink should you choose to indulge in a spicier ramen at the end of class.

Bantam King soft drinks

What is Ramen?

This is the first question tackled during the very entertaining class at Bantam King. In order for a bowl of noodle soup to be classified as ramen, it must contain four essential components: stock, tare (basically, the seasoning), noodles and aromatic oil. It must also be prepared after it’s ordered, and not pre-made. Toppings exist to enhance the ramen, but even with topping it’s still ramen as long as it meets the requirements above.

Why Chicken Ramen?

There are approximately 32 different types of ramen in Japan. Daikaya and Haikan both focus on serving authentic Saporro-style ramen, but Bantam King broke the mold by offering strictly chicken ramen varieties. This type of ramen is relatively new in that it doesn’t have a specific region of origin and its reputation and techniques are still forming.

According to Utagawa, “if the soup has chicken as the prominent and dominant ingredient, people call it chicken ramen”. So, you can have a bowl of chicken ramen topped with pork and it’s still chicken ramen. But Bantam King is taking things one step further by offering no other meat but chicken in their ramen.

Chicken Ramen 101 at Bantam King

Stock It to Me

Bantam King makes two delicious chicken-based stocks, a delicate chintan that is light in color (but not in flavor) and a richer paitan, which is darker in color. These stocks are made using such ingredients as seaweed, onions, garlic and ginger as well as chicken necks, feet, skin and bodies. The use of black chicken (also known as a silkie) also serves to enhance the rich flavor.

ramen stock tasting

One of the best parts of the Chicken Ramen 101 class was getting to taste the various components. We were given the opportunity to sample several types of stock. First, we were given a taste of the stock without any added tare. I was worried the taste would be too “chickeny” for me to handle, but I threw caution to the wind and took a long sip.

The verdict? Shock, awe and delight. The stock, made solely from the ingredients listed above with no added salt, was comfort personified. I whispered to Tom that this was exactly what we needed the next time one of us was sick. And it only got better from there as we sampled the shio and shoyu stocks, created by the addition of tare. All of Bantam King’s tare is made in Japan using a top-secret recipe, adding to the authenticity of every bowl.

What’s in a Noodle?

The noodles are arguably the most fun part of eating a bowl of ramen, and Bantam King takes their noodles very seriously. That’s the thing about these guys, they have an incredible commitment to honoring the culture and authenticity in every ingredient they bring to the table. It’s apparent when you listen to them speak, and even more so in each slurp you take.

Good quality ramen noodles should be springy, pleasantly chewy and actually have flavor. It’s a misconception that the noodles should simply soak up the flavors of the liquid; they should actually have their own distinguishable taste. Like the tare, Bantam King’s noodles are shipped from Japan to ensure consistency and authenticity. Both an innovative milling technology and the use of Saporro well water set these noodles apart from any you could find outside of Japan.

ramen preparation

Topping It Off

While toppings are not an essential part of ramen, they are still a very important factor. The toppings should work in harmony with the rest of the ramen. All components should taste delicious on their own, but should not overpower the bowl. We sampled two of the most common toppings – menma, or fermented bamboo, and nitamago, or soft-boiled egg. Bantam King also offers shredded chicken, dandelion greens, white onions, nori, corn and roasted chicken quarters as toppings, just to name a few.

ramen bowls

How To Eat Your Ramen

Class concludes with the best lesson of all – how to eat your ramen. Utagawa is an expert on eating ramen, and will give you the full lowdown on exactly how to dig in so as to avoid looking a fool like I did on my first try. In the meantime, here are the basics.

ramen made to orderFirst, you should begin eating your ramen as soon as it’s set in front of you. Don’t worry about being polite, that doesn’t matter here. You don’t want your noodles to continue to cook in the broth and get soggy.

bantam king chicken miso ramen
Lift the bowl up and let the steam and aromas captivate your senses, and then take a sip of the broth. Next, pull out the noodles, making sure to smell them first, and then slurp them while looking down, face over the bowl. Do not worry about what you look like or if you’re getting anything on your shirt – just go for it!

shoyu chicken ramen
I could not believe how delicious these bowls were to my once chicken-resistant palate. We went simple on the toppings, but did opt to add bata (butter) at a server’s recommendation. The dandelion greens were one of my favorite elements, the subtle bitterness deepening the already complex flavor profile in these harmonious bowls of goodness.

We learned so many other fascinating details throughout the hour-long class, but I’m not going to give them to you word for word because this is definitely something you should experience for yourself. If you’re a ramen enthusiast, or just curious what the fuss is all about – go! If you’re looking for a fun first date or an unusual outing with your friends – go! If you need a new way to entertain your kids – go!

While you’re there, be sure to try the boiled gyoza. These may be my new favorite dumplings in DC, with flavors that build and shift in mesmerizing ways as you eat them. Trust me on this.

Bantam King dumplings
And of course, don’t forget the fried chicken, either the platter or on their brand new fried chicken sandwich.

Bantam King new chicken sandwich
These tasty sandwiches are available for dining in or carrying out. Rumor also has it that ramen to-go is in the works as well. Stay tuned for more details on that!

Each Chicken Ramen 101 class costs $35, inclusive of tax and tip, and comes with a soft drink and bowl of ramen. For more information, future class dates and reservations call (202) 733-2612.


Kacy Kish, DC Contributor

Kacy Kish writes for Mezze Weekly in Washington, D.C. and with our readers she shares her own international culture experiences through food, drink, while highlighting cultural events and more to check out around the DC area. Kacy also writes for her blog, Bad Sentences where you can follow her own journey through food, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

11 Japanese Kaiten Sushi Destinations Making Heads Spin Near You

Recently, I learned that Kaiten style sushi – think: the automated sushi-train – was created in the 1950’s. Immediately, I recalled a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant Wasabi in Northern Virginia’s Tysons Corner Mall when we were living nearby. It was a first-floor fixture right under the escalator—so that as my feet moved up, my eyes moved side-to-side as I watched the dizzying, captivating and beautiful belt in motion!

Kaiten style sushi (aka, Kaiten-zushi), known for its low cost but satisfying (and fun!) fish-fare, is served off the moving belt and is usually available ‘all-you-can-eat’ for a set fee, or the color or type of plate determines the price. Want to give it a try locally? There are several other US sushi bars and restaurants offering a similarly authentic Japanese Kaiten sushi experience in NYC, Miami, Houston, Austin, and San Francisco.

Here are some ideas for enjoying Kaiten style sushi near you.

NEW YORK CITY

East Japanese Restaurant
366 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016
212.889.2326
Website

Kido Sushi
90-15 Queens Blvd.
Queens Center Mall
Elmhurst, NY 11373
718.271.3688
Website

WASHINGTON DC

Wasabi
Tysons Corner Center
1961 Chain Bridge Rd.
McLean, VA 22102
703.388.0646
Website
@SushiByWasabi

Matuba Japanese Restaurant
4918 Cordell Avenue
Bethesda, MD
301.652.7449
Website
@MatubaSushi

MIAMI

Katana Japanese Restaurant
920 71st Street
Miami Beach, FL 33141
305.864.0037
Website

Blue Ginger
15791 Sheridan Street
Southwest Ranches, FL 33331
954.680.9998
Website

HOUSTON

Sushi Choo Choo
1675 S. Voss Road
Houston, TX 77063
713.783.1368
Website                                 

Sushi Sakura Express
1014 Wirt Road
Houston, TX 77055
713.263.7552
Website

AUSTIN

Korean Garden
6519 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78752
512.302.3149
Website                                         

          

SAN FRANCISCO

Katana Japanese Restaurant
920 71st Street
Miami Beach, FL 33141
305.864.0037
Website

Blue Ginger
15791 Sheridan Street
Southwest Ranches, FL 33331
954.680.9998
Website

Go out and try this fun sushi soon. In the meantime, be inspired by the Kaiten sushi eye candy that Erika Owen features in her article which highlights successful Japanese restaurant Muten Kuraszushi in Tokyo. 

P.s., the image is courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What if, Like Bourdain, We Saw our City as a ‘Cultural Wellspring’

Surely I’m not the only one that loves to live vicariously through Anthony Bourdain’s worldwide travels and culinary adventures, especially through his recent stories on the CNN Show, “Parts Unknown,” which airs Sunday’s at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

This last episode really excited me though because he traveled to his native state of New Jersey for a taste of its hometown cultural experiences. The story included a stop for Italian-American fare at the landmark Baltimore Grill in Atlantic City, which has been serving spaghetti and pizza for over 70 years.

“I’m here to feed my soul, the cultural wellspring that is New Jersey,” Bourdain said in his newest episode, and this is what really got me excited—references to local cultural experiences that can ignite curiosity, appreciation, value and hopefully love for what’s in our own backyard. And most importantly, for the unique people behind them so eager to share their heritage from abroad.

In one of his recent Tumblr posts, Bourdain references ‘Jersey Italian’ as being eternal to New Jersey culture. I had to Tweet back to the show about it when they featured the post—I’m not sure if it was seen, but that short reference to Italian heritage as part of the fabric of NJ culture spoke volumes to me.

@HelenCho @Bourdain @PartsUnknownCNN Amen at Jersey #Italian ‘eternal’; #cultural authenticity in our own backyard.

— MezzeCulture (@MezzeCulture) May 31, 2015

His brother Chris Bourdain said in this recent article in the New York Post “I remember we were trying Japanese food and Indian food long before anybody had ever thought of such things,” he recalled. “It’s just what our parents were. They appreciated those kinds of things.”

How cool is that? That before Tony traveled the world so that travelers could feel like locals, he grew up exploring the world locally in his own city. Can’t wait to learn more when Bourdain comes to Austin in July. I’ve already got my ticket to see his show on July 9th. Check out his 2015 Tour Anthony Bourdain: Close to the Bone.

Personally, I’m hoping to learn more about how I can encourage more Americans to become cultural enthusiasts—to encourage them to get to know the world through the genuine international people and places around them.

In a CNN article supporting the episode, “Don’t trash Jersey until you’ve traveled it,” Cindy Y. Rodriguez, Special to CNN, wrote of six places to check out in New Jersey for a taste of local culture—among them, where Jersey City for a diverse food tour, and West New York for what she dubs “some of the best Hispanic food in the tri-state area.”

This episode was raw and real, which I love about every episode. Thank you, Mr. Bourdain. A first-generation American myself, I truly believe that inspiring people to view their own backyard as a ‘cultural wellspring,’ could do wonders for enabling people to bridge cultural divides, span cultural distances, and even overcome common travel barriers (half of Americans don’t have passports).

That’s what the idea behind MezzeCulture was in 2015 and now what Mezze Weekly represents as a travel magazine—inspiring new cultural and international experiences to love locally, and beyond the pages of lovely guide books and the media, but by stepping outside your front door. By exploring authentic local destinations for international culture expressed through food, drink, music and more.

One day, I hope to add New Jersey and other US cities to the list, as well as their wonderfully authentic destinations, and the stories of the people behind them. But, for now we’re working on building that community of cultural enthusiasts and destinations in 6 other cities—what are your favorite local cultural activities near you?

(image is courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

That First Slurp of Ramen at Yona, DC’s Japanese Hotspot

When I first moved from Oklahoma to the DC area, I lived in Arlington’s questionably named neighborhood of Ballston. The area was convenient to my job in Tyson’s Corner, and was filled with people my age overpaying on rent and going out to the copious sports bars in the area (one of those people turned out to be my darling husband).

But that was really all there was to do – drink cheap beer and eat wings at the half-dozen sports bars lining the streets. Not that I don’t enjoy doing those things, I very much do (and it was all I could afford at the time), but sometimes a person needs a little variety.
Eventually, Tom and I decided to move into the district, and in a silly twist of fate, the week after we signed our lease I landed a new job in, wouldn’t ya know, Ballston. For the past three plus years we’ve lived in DC and commuted back into Virginia. Now, Tom and I both work in Ballston and this little neighborhood where we met and fell in love has grown up right along with us.

In the past year, dozens of new and exciting restaurants have opened in the area – several of them owned by DC celebrity chef, Mike Isabella. The first was Kapnos Taverna, an offshoot of the successful DC Greek restaurant of the same name, followed by Pepita, a Mexican concept specializing in cocktails.

This week, a third Isabella concept hit the scene, with Chef Jonah Kim formerly of Pabu in Baltimore at the helm. Suddenly, Ballston is hip!

[Editors note: this sotry first appeared on Kacy’s blog in 2015, when the restaurant first opened.]

Yona opened on Monday, November 30th 2015, after much anticipation, serving up hot ramen and other Japanese dishes.

Yona Ballston
Badsentences.com

I went all paparazzi with this photo. On the right is George Pagonis, Kapnos executive chef and Top Chef Season 12 competitor. On the right is Jonah Kim himself.

Yona dining room
Badsentences.com

We visited on opening day, being that I was actually in the office (I work from home three or more days a week) and it was raining and gross and a bowl of ramen sounded incredible. As you can see, the dining room is rather small making for a cozy dining experience. Most seating is communal. Tom and I were seated next to each other, instead of across from each other.

I like the idea of the open seating, but would have preferred if we’d sat across from each other so we didn’t feel like we were constantly eavesdropping on the guys sitting across from us.

Tom arrived before me and ordered a Japanese white cream soda while he pondered the small but somewhat mystifying menu.

Yona Japanese soda
Badsentences.com

They offer a variety of these sodas (melon, grape and the white cream I believe) along with American sodas and several teas. I opted for water, since salty foods like ramen can sometimes give me a migraine if I don’t stay properly hydrated.

A caveat of going to a restaurant on the day it opens is that you know there will be at least a few kinks in the service. While our servers were all very polite and attentive, we received very little information about the menu items. This was a bit of a problem since I recognized only about 20% of the ingredients on the menu.

I asked what the difference was between the first ramen choice, Miso Porky, and the second, Tonkotsu ramen, and was told that the first one had pork while the second one did not. Perhaps not the most helpful, but I’ll give it a pass on opening day.

Tom went with the porky version, which definitely had a strong essence of miso that I found very enjoyable. It also had the slightest bit of spice from the kimchi topping.

Yona miso porky
Badsentences.com

I went with the non-pork version, which oddly enough still had one piece of pork in it. I assume this was a mistake, but maybe bonus pork is a thing?

The tonkotsu broth was very smoky, with ginger being the predominant flavor. It was good, but a touch too salty. We both thought the eggs and noodles were cooked to perfection, but wished there had been some heat to the dishes (spice-wise, the temperature was on point). We noticed after ordering that you can add a spice bomb at an extra cost, but we had already started eating and didn’t want to wait to order it and for it to come out. Next time, I’ll definitely add spice to kick things up a notch.

And will there be a next time? Absolutely. I won’t lie, this is not the best ramen that I’ve had in the DC area (Daikaya still has my heart) but I love that it’s right down the street from my office on days when I need a warm bowl of noodles.

The communal seating offered us a peek at some of the small plates, which I definitely want to sample in the future – the uni waffles, dry-fried wings and crispy Brussels sprouts in particular.

Yona is open for lunch through this week and will begin dinner service on Friday December 4th. Reservations can be made here.

After all those celebrity chef name drops, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that the new season of Top Chef premieres tonight with THREE DC chefs competing for the title. I’m a sucker for this show, especially when there are local chefs to root for. Tell me I’m not the only one still watching?

____________________________________________________________

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This post originally appeared on Kacy’s website and blog. Read the post here, titled “First Slirp at Yona in Ballston“. Kacy is also a cultural ambassador for MezzeCulture in the Washington DC area, who lives and writes in Washington D.C., and enjoys travel and discovering international food and wine locally.

8 Quaint International Tea Rooms in Houston You’ll Love

When it comes to visiting tearooms in Houston, some people chose tea for its health benefits, while others enjoy it for its other more sensory qualities like taste, smell, and the way it can trigger relaxation. In many part of the world, tea is eve a daily ritual, like in the British Isles and Asian countries for example, where over the centuries it has become a quintessential part of the cultures by being infused in societies.

Houston tea rooms, parlors and bars vary from those paying homage to British rituals of high-tea and afternoon tea, to expansive Asian varietals. It was Chinese scientist Shen Nung who was known to have initiated the first tea break during his travels sometime in 2700’s B.C., and today Vietnam and China are among the three largest tea exporters in the world. Couple that with Chinese and Vietnamese Americans making up the largest Asian groups in Houston, and you’ll see how easily Houstonian’s can find great places for tea locally.

Below are 8 places where tea lovers in Houston don’t have to steep long to find a cuppa (as the Brits call it).

1. Tea For Two | English culture

This quaint English-inspired tearoom has two locations; one in Houston and another in Cypress, just outside of Houston’s beltway, and makes visitors feel transported to a simpler way of life. The hideaway features a variety of specialty teas, a gift shop and serves lunch of delectable tea sandwiches and desserts, as well as offers a dinner menu. 8475 Hwy 6 N, Houston and 13115 Louetta, Cypress

2. McHugh Tea Room & Gifts | English culture

An English tearoom that believes your cup should be filled with happiness, creativity, peace and life, at their homey shop. Each teacup at this Houston tearoom is unique, seeking to brighten your day with premier organic teas steeped to the right time and at the perfect temperature. You can enjoy a lunch of salads, soups, quiches and desserts. 

3. Tea Cake French Bakery & Tea Room | French culture

You’ll enjoy the first butter croissants and French pastries to be introduced to the Spring neighborhood at this Houston tearoom and bakery. This French-inspired shop features breakfast pastries, pies, cakes, and lunch is sure to be a treat.  820 Cypress Creek Pkwy #19, Houston

4. Serenitea Tea Room | English culture

A classic English-style tea room and gift shop featuring soups and salads, where you can enjoy lunch or an afternoon tea in an elegant and relaxed setting. At Serenitea, tea is an experience from far away lands and memory of flavors; an exotic drink and sophisticated beverage for comfort, relaxation, socialization and of course health benefits. 13889 Southwest Fwy, Sugar Land

5. The Path of Tea | Japanese culture

A Japanese-inspired place for tea and only totally organic tea shop in Houston, The Path of Tea features over 150 certified and carefully crafted and selected fair trade teas. Beyond great tea, it’s owners include Texas’s first and only certified Tea Master in Texas, and sought to create a shop where community is celebrated, relationships are cultivated in a place of acceptance and tolerance. 2340 W Alabama St., Houston

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Take your pick! #tea

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6. Tea Bar & Organics | Chinese culture

This Chinese-inspired tea bar has a few locations, but we recommend their Bellaire Chinatown shop for a real taste of China. The cafe features organic teas and even inspired dishes with organic rice, if you decide to stop in for a bite to eat. Customers rave about the green tea, traditional bitter Asian teas, and fruity milk teas featuring strawberry and mango flavors, as well as plates like the fish cakes and Takoyaki (a ball-shaped stuffed seafood snack). 9889 Bellaire Blvd. E211, Houston

7. Tapioca Place | Vietnamese culture

This bubble tea and Vietnamese cafe is known for its boba (tapioca) drinks, including favorites like lavender and strawberry boba, taro and coconut milk teas. Boba drinks are refreshing and healthy, containing tapioca balls that are soft, chewy and fun to eat. The cafe also known for its Vietnamese sandwiches, Banh mi (baguette sandwiches), featuring chicken, pork, beef, and more.  10226 Hammerly Blvd., Houston

8. Sharetea | Taiwanese culture

This Taiwanese cafe in Houston’s Chinatown makes its tea drinks from ingredients shipped directly from Taiwan, and prides itself on using high quality tea leaves in all its teas. The tea shop first started in Taipei City, Taiwan and has since sprouted locations around the world, including its authentic location in Houston. Get a taste of Taiwan at this shop serving up a variety of Taiwanese-inspired fruit, brewed, and milk teas, as well as cream and ice blended drinks.  9889 Bellaire Blvd. Suite E213