In May of 2011, Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill opened at Waterway Square, offering area residents the opportunity to sample the menu at a 50% savings. It's not anything new, BJ's Brewhouse in Shenandoah had a similar offering in November 2010; the only difference was a limited menu... and the much larger crowd anxious to sample their food. BJ's has a much larger following in Texas than Stir Crazy; 20 to none when it comes to locations anyway.
When it comes to Asian food in The Woodlands choices are many, with nearly 40 different venues offering Asian favorites including Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Sushi and others.
Kita Japanese already has a home along Waterway Avenue offering a fresh Sushi Bar along with other Japanese items. Stir Crazy features both an adult beverage bar as well as the "Market Bar" open to all with no age restrictions. The Market Bar offers fresh vegetables for the picking and when added along with a meat, fish or tofu (optional), are fresh cooked in front of you and served up hot and/or spicy to suit your taste. Should you want to be seated and have everything brought to the table, you can also order entrées and dessert directly from the menu.
As mentioned earlier, all the menu items at Stir Crazy were 50% off over the weekend. This in itself seems like a great reason to try out a new restaurant but, there was more to it than just half price food. Everything but the liquor, and (nearly) every employee was also at 50%, more or less. As they were probably a lot of new-hires and new-to-the-food-service-field, this was a training exercise for many of the worker bees at this Asian food diner/restaurant/fresh market eatery. You need to have full knowledge and understanding of this before venturing further into this realm so I repeat - presumably almost all of the staff were still in training at this point. While we may know a lot about a given subject, none of us can possibly know everything, so aren't we all always in training to one degree or another? There was at least one employee there with some 10 years experience with the company - surely there were others, but, they weren't the servers or among the many line cooks. This thought is based on some other reviews about the food, as well as our own, which we will get to in due time, and drinks received by other patrons. Having some experience in the food service industry myself, it's not hard to spot the various staff members with that 'deer caught in the headlights' look. This is not to say that it was all bad - in fact it was pretty good - all things considered. Our waiter was pretty well versed with the menu, and knew a little something about each of the different items when questioned. He was somewhat over the top in the enthusiasm department, and was very agreeable with our choices, frequently commenting on how this or that was his 'favorite' or was 'fantastic'. That, and extremely courteous; he was very generous with a "Thank You" after nearly every encounter at our table.
Our meal consisted of appetizers, the main course, and dessert. Nothing terribly exciting or unusual, just Asian food at a new Asian restaurant in The Woodlands. Initially, we sampled the Chicken Satay (seared chicken skewers served with a peanut dipping sauce and Asian slaw) and Lettuce Wraps (a special blend of chicken, vegetables and spices, served with cool, crisp lettuce cups). The chicken strips are cooked in a curry based sauce (not actually listed on the menu) and as colorful as they were, we expected more pizzazz in the flavor yet, they were disappointingly bland. The peanut sauce was more like peanut butter; consisting mostly of chopped peanuts, which is fine if you like peanut butter, I suppose. The lettuce wraps - the iceberg lettuce cups were cool and fresh, the chicken and vegetable blend (a rather unpleasant sounding description) was also a bit neutral when it came to the flavor, or lack thereof.
For the main course, we had Kung Pao Chicken served with scallions, red peppers, carrots, peanuts and hot chili peppers, and Thai BBQ Noodles - chicken, Shanghai noodles, tomatoes, onions, carrots, red peppers, snow peas and cilantro tossed in a Thai BBQ sauce. The Kung Pao Chicken was unlike any I have ever tasted before, large chunks of white chicken, a few of the aforementioned extras and plenty of the dried red peppers, several of them being very healthy in appearance (plump). And did I mention that this item is served with your choice of noodles, white, brown, or fried rice? Yes, it comes with rice and lots of it too - though not much sauce; very little in fact (which we were told was not the norm). For those familiar with Pei Wei, their entrées that are served with rice typically come with a matching size pile of chicken, not true at Stir Crazy... neither of our plates were equal in the chicken to starch ratio when compared to our reigning favorite, but they are more expen$$ive by about 40%. The Thai BBQ Noodles on the other hand, had plenty of sauce and a bit more flavor than the Kung Pao Chicken. Though the menu indicated it would be spicy (with two out of three possible flame indicators), unless one suffers from an ulcer, it's safe to assume even a three-flame dish would be pleasantly mild. True to everything being fresh and house-made, each of the noodle bowls are made with a different Asian pasta.
Dessert at Stir Crazy was good, such as we read that others enjoyed as well. We sampled two of their in-house made desserts - the Pyphoon and the Triple Happiness Chocolate Cake. The "Pyphoon" is a house made ice cream pie layered with coffee, chocolate and Swiss almond Haggen Daz ice cream on an Oreo cookie crust and drizzled with house made caramel sauce and is great, but it doesn't compare to "Dominic's Mud."
The Triple Happiness Chocolate Cake is a house made chocolate bundt cake with a hint of ginger spice, topped with warm house made milk chocolate sauce, served with strawberry puree and loaded with fresh whipped cream.
So knowing that this was opening weekend for the first Stir Crazy in Texas, would we return in the future? Yes because (most) everyone deserves a second chance and we have heard many say that the Japanese steak is wonderful. The appetizer and dessert portions were of decent size but the main course was short on both meat and flavor. Maybe are expectations were wrong but based on the bright colors and the name / logo design, our taste buds were prepped for food with a loud flavor but all we got was a whisper. Maybe we will have better luck next time.
Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill in The Woodlands is located at the corner of Waterway Avenue and Lake Robbins Drive. Check the TWE! Restaurant Guide for more Asian Restaurants in The Woodlands.
Think we got it wrong? Or did we hit the nail on the head? Let us know in the comments below. And remember, you don't have to take our word for it - give them a try for yourself and decide! Maybe we will see you there as we plan to return for more.
Stir Crazy Asian Restaurant The Woodlands closed in 2012 and has since been replaced by Morton's Grille