Even if the food wasn’t delicious – which it is, but I’ll get to that – I’d pay money just to visit with Ginger & Fork owner Mary Li. I watched her make the rounds of her restaurant, which is getting ready to celebrate its two-year anniversary, and realized that the friendliness and good cheer wasn’t just for me. Good food without good service is a deal breaker in a market as competitive as Houston and Li knows it. Born in Hong Kong, Li was a resident of Los Angeles and Chicago – where she was in the restaurant business – before moving with her mother to Houston 24 years ago. Li first got a job at the Houlihan’s on Westheimer before quickly being promoted to bartender. For more than 20 years, Li was the face of Tony Mandola’s bar program which explained her desire to have “a restaurant with really good Chinese food and a really good bar.” Mission accomplished.
Featured dish: Chow Fun with bean sprouts, beef added
As Li explained it, in Hong Kong Chow Fun is the Cantonese version of a hamburger or spaghetti and meatballs in the States – in other words, it’s comfort food. As ubiquitous as Chow Fun is, it is actually really hard to make well because the noodles are so flat and it’s hard to stir fry them without either the noodles getting stuck together, or without burning the soy sauce. Li said it is their test kitchen dish for new hires. Mine was perfect – a tribute to the Cantonese-speaking chefs who work in the kitchen. Fun fact: the point of sale receipts are in English and Cantonese so everyone can read them. My dish came with flank steak which I recommend, but you can get the vegetarian version, too. Today, I share just one dish, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also recommend the soup dumplings. You may be asking yourself how soup and dumplings can go together, but you just have to try them. Li can coach you on the right way to eat them, and she’ll no doubt have a good story for you, too.
If you go
B’s recommend: Chow Fun + add beef
Price: $$ (Featured dish is $13 with an additional $5 for added beef)
Location: 4705 Inker St.
Voted Best Asian in Readers’ Choice 2017
Ginger & Fork was voted Best Asian 2017 by Leader Readers; this is our top dish to share from the menu.
Editor’s note: this article has been edited to include the restaurant name; the print version left off the restaurant name for Ginger & Fork.