"I just hate that we can't seem to find good Chinese food from a clean kitchen," she said. As regular readers of the Restaurant Inspection Reports may have noticed (we know we have) there seems to be a far greater number of demerits more often in certain cuisines versus others. Because of that, we find it difficult to want to eat at a select number of restaurants (Asian included) throughout The Woodlands. Among Asian restaurants in more recent inspections, P.F. Chang's and it's little brother, Pei Wei (with two Woodlands-area locations), have fared pretty well, so we opted to give them a try again. While the foods are quite similar, the menu at Pei Wei differs and is definitely more of a fast food joint versus P.F. Chang's which offers full service, including a bar, along with a much classier interior; and The Woodlands location is very nice. Both establishments offer a 'Rewards Program' based on receiving 10 points per dollar spent, and Pei Wei generates a free en-tree at 1000 points while P.F. Chang's doesn't offer an entree until 2000 points have been earned.
Ace Chinese restaurant was previously located in the Panther Creek Village Center for twenty-odd years before closing in late 2013. They have now re-opened in Magnolia in early 2015. The new, smaller location is located on FM 2978, next door to Jax Burgers. The reasoning behind the two (plus) year hiatus is not clear but, we suspect that at least most of the furnishings and the dishes were put in storage during the absence. We aren't saying that it's a bad thing or anything in regards to the cleanliness of those items, but the appearance of damaged dinnerware can create doubt.
Tucked away behind the trees in the Grogan's Mill Village Center is Chef Chan's Restaurant. One of over forty different Asian variety eateries in The Woodlands area, Chef Chan's has quietly gone about their business for more than 22 years. The decor inside the medium-sized dining area is nondescript; nothing fussy or overstated. Chef Chan's is at once a casual diner and a formal restaurant; where one can be comfortable in shorts and flip-flops, even when dining with linen tablecloths and napkins. Chef Chan's has an extensive menu of nearly 140 items, ranging from Americanized Chinese favorites to Traditional Sichuan and Hunan delights. Here's our take on a few dishes we sampled...
We love to patronize the locally-owned, individual restaurants around The Woodlands. But sometimes we find ourselves having one reason or another to stop in a franchise, one among a chain of restaurants that criss-cross the country. Tonight the moon was supposed to be the closest to the earth it would be all year, and we knew we wanted pictures of it from Town Center, in order to provide recognizable landscapes for a few Supermoon photos. And so we set out to dine at P.F. Chang's China Bistro at the mall - a recognizable restaurant that we hadn't been to in some time.
Ever have one of those meals where no matter how optimistic you are all will go well, it just doesn't seem to happen? We soon discovered that was the type of night we were going to have once we arrived at the Chinarestaurant near The Woodlands Mall.
Maybe the 5th time is the charm... Kim Son Cafe has opened in the Town Center location where, so far at least, restaurants have been 0 for 4 and unable to prosper. Each of the past tenants has offered a unique menu and Kim Son is no exception. Taco Milagro was the first to rise and fall, serving up a modern, Tex-Mex/fusion menu. La Mesa opened shortly thereafter, making some improvements to the Tex Mex menu and occasionally offering live music on the patio. They, too, fell, and shortly thereafter Chef John Tesar of Dallas and two partners opened Tesar's, offering upscale steaks and what was purported to be some of the best burgers ever to grace The Woodlands. However, despite good reviews, was rumored to be over-priced and couldn't seem to get any decent customer base going; forcing John to make the tough decision to leave the restaurant and return to Dallas in hopes of making a better living. Tesar's shuttered only a few short weeks later. Finally, restaurateur Marco Wiles opened Dolce Vita, an upscale pizzeria and his second in the Houston area.
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.