Ben Berg, the restaurateur powering Berg Hospitality, has brought Houston just about a dozen dining places — some of which are deeply embedded in the local eating scene. There is B&B Butchers for people in search of steak the Annie Cafe and Bar, which serves an Instagrammable brunch with rooftop views Emilia’s Havana, a late-night place with bustling reside entertainment and Cuban influences B.B. Italia and Trattoria Sofia for pizzas and pasta, and now, the New York indigenous is venturing into Chinese delicacies.
Benny Chows, a swanky “New York-style” Cantonese restaurant that incorporates aspects of Texas delicacies, opened Wednesday, June 28, on Washington Avenue, in accordance to a release. Berg tells Eater Houston the inspiration for the restaurant is fueled by his own experiences escalating up in New York City, where, Berg states, road incredibly hot canines, pizza, and Chinese foods are resources of convenience, and it was typical for his loved ones celebrations to be hosted at fancier Chinese dining places in the space. On the other hand, the restaurant’s branding has drawn criticism from users of Houston’s AAPI local community, who explained to the Chron earlier this calendar year that the establishment’s fake Chinese title and internet marketing — at first presented as “elevated” Chinese food items — seemed problematic. Some expressed issues that its internet marketing was dismissive of Houston’s present Chinese and Chinese American food scene.
Modern Benny Chows advertising and marketing components have considering that deserted the phrase “elevated,” although the identify remains. “We develop restaurants for everyone. I of course don’t want to make any one really feel not comfortable,” Berg suggests, including that the identify is “a perform on words — with chow, as in my food” and also a nod to the famous spot of Mr. Chow in New York.
Although Berg, who is white, gave his nickname to the cafe, Chinese-born govt chef Shirong Mei will preside around the kitchen, bringing with him almost 30 years of knowledge at Cantonese places to eat during Asia and the U.S. The menu attributes 55 objects that include dim sum and dumplings. The cafe also lends Texas touches to some dishes: Real truth BBQ’s brisket would make it into the smoked brisket egg rolls and the Holy Trinity fried rice pays homage to Hill Region barbecue tradition with a mix of Brenham- and Houston-smoked brisket, Chinese sausage, and char siu made in-house. Standard Tso’s, an American Chinese staple, will also be re-interpreted as a tempura-fried 50 %-chicken, as will the mapo tofu, which the cafe would make with Impossible meat.
Diners can obtain full lobster, foie gras, white sturgeon caviar, and seafood-loaded XO fried rice on the menu. Benny Chows will also supply its spin on Beijing duck — a 7-pound Jurgielewicz duck that is well prepared about a few days.
The bar provides eight tea-infused cocktails — seven of which are named just after the New York Chinese eating places Berg grew up on. Some of the menu details to Houston cafe historical past, much too: The Mamma’s China Yard cocktail is a nod to Marian “Mamma” Jue, the late operator of Houston’s China Yard. Most intriguing, and also an outlier on the menu, is Mr. K’s Scorpion: Intended to be shared, the tropical consume is served in a large crystal decanter and garnished with scorpion lollipops.
Berg says the design procedure has been the most layered of his dining establishments to day in an try to replicate a New York-fashion Cantonese cafe. Sam Governale, Berg’s vice president of layout and working experience, teamed up with Gail McCleese of the company Sensitori to include Chinese decor and antiques into the restaurant’s design, some of which date back again to 200 CE, Berg says. The over-all result is a kitschy, amorphously mid-century American Chinese aesthetic, with hand-painted wallpaper depicting “Chinese landscapes” and sculptures of Foo Canines, Chinese guard lions that are generally a preferred feng shui symbol of safety, standing in the entrance. A “moon wall” qualified prospects to a horseshoe-shaped bar with Lazy Susan towers keeping bottles of spirits, which includes Japanese whiskey.
With Houston brimming with Asian-owned restaurants, significantly in locations like Asiatown in the Bellaire place and Katy Asia Town, it remains to be observed how Benny Chows will add to the greater dining group. But Berg believes the New York-type Cantonese restaurant will resonate.
“This is one thing I’m energized about,” claims Berg, incorporating that the restaurant has been his passion challenge for two decades. “It will come from a good place.”
Benny Chows is open up from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.