NU ICE AT NU CAFE

Recently our friends introduced us to Nu Ice at Nu Café (thanks Susan and Craig!).  Nu Ice, also called Snowflake Ice and Ribbon Ice, is a Taiwanese frozen treat.  It’s not ice cream, although it does contain a small amount of milk (for the lactose intolerant out there).  Somewhere in the back of my brain I recall something called ice milk from my youth, which is how I might describe Nu Ice.  The website says that “Nu Snowflake Ice has the consistency of ice cream, the deep rich taste of gelato, and melts in your mouth like snow. There are no preservatives and just 100% natural taste.”

Nu Café has two locations — one in Chinatown at 9889 Bellaire Blvd, and the one we visited near the Galleria at 5901 Westheimer.  Between the karaoke bar and the Mongolian Hot Pot restaurant in the same shopping center, the Galleria location is hopping at night.

IMG_5907

 Note the fancy chandeliers — classy!

Although Nu Cafe also offers smoothies, slushies, cream-topped ice coffees, “Marco Polos” and other specialty drinks, it’s the Nu Ice that makes this place worth a visit.

Here’s the drill.  Start with an order form: IMG_5925

First decide if you want a Mountain or Hill of Nu Ice.  The Mountain, which comes with 2 toppings and a drizzle, is easily enough for two people (so is the Hill, for that matter, although it only comes with 1 topping).  Next pick your flavor.  We’ve tried the coffee, strawberry, and coconut, all of which I can recommend, although I REALLY loved the coconut.  Perhaps the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which toppings to pick.  In addition to Oreos, M&Ms, and the usual suspects, there’s a variety of jellies, poppers (tapioca pearls), and fresh fruits that go particularly well with the Nu Ice.  I especially like the coffee jelly.  Last but not least, pick a drizzle — chocolate and condensed milk are popular.

IMG_5905Hand your order form to the young man behind the counter and watch the fun.  The Nu Ice is shaved from a large cylinder of frozen ice, which they will tell you takes 10 hours to prepare.  (The ice shaving machine comes from Taiwan, in case you were wondering):

IMG_5877

In just a minute, you’ll be handed a mound of delicate ribbons of shaved ice:

Seriously, isn’t this amazing?  It looks like a Dresden lace figurine:

Dresden lace figurines

IMG_5904

Nu Ice (coffee with chocolate drizzle)

As an added bonus, you don’t really need to wear your stretchy pants to enjoy Nu Ice, as it’s lighter and less filling than ice cream or frozen yogurt (which also have a special place in my heart).  Nu Ice is sweet and cold and fun and delicious, and I expect as the weather warms we’ll be making more than one trip to Nu Cafe.

 

Nu Café on Urbanspoon

BERNIE’S BURGER BUS “COOL KIDS TABLE” DINNER

Last night we went to a fun dinner at Bernie’s Burger Bus, located at 5407 Bellaire Blvd.  Bernie’s began as a popular food truck in 2010, and opened its brick-and-mortar establishment in 2014, featuring hand-ground burgers, homemade condiments, and breads baked by a local artisanal baker.

IMG_5845

Inside, the restaurant is schoolhouse themed, with menus that look like composition notebooks, school desks, and of course, a school bus:

But last night we weren’t there for burgers.  We were there for Bernie’s monthly After Dark “Cool Kids Table” dinner.  At the back of the restaurant, tables were set aside for 18 diners — the “cool kids.”

IMG_5830

This month’s theme was Mardi Gras Style, and was done in collaboration with Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza Truck and Matt Toomey of Boomtown Coffee and The Honeymoon Café & Bar.  I liked the premise–a multi-course dinner in a casual setting, without the stuffiness that tends to accompany similar wine dinners.  Beer, wine, and soft drinks were available for purchase.

The first course, which might have been everyone’s favorite, was called “Remoulade,” and consisted of butter-poached lobster, romesco, and fractured remoulade:

IMG_5828

Next up was “PoBoy,” a crispy oyster panzanella with greens and warm andouille dressing.  These oysters were plump, spicy, and crunchy:

“Gumbo” was different than any gumbo I’ve ever had, and was served “Lyle” bento box style (a tongue-in-cheek reference to Underbelly sous chef Lyle Bento who is in the process of opening Southern Goods in the Heights):

The fourth course, “Quail,” was a tasty fried, lacquered quail atop duck-laced grits, with pickled greens and a creole vin:

IMG_5837

For dessert, we were treated to “Beignets,” which was made up of two sweet potato beignets with a really decadent creole cream cheese ice cream, accompanied by a New Orleans style café sua da, a strong rich coffee that went well with the dessert:

So did I feel cool, sitting back there at the Cool Kids Table?  Yeah, kinda.  We really enjoy these special dinners, and as a bonus, we usually meet like-minded foodie types at them, which makes them all the more interesting.  If you’re interested in dinners like these, you’re in luck, because there are scores of them going on all around the city, all the time these days.  To keep up, I follow Eater, Culture Map, Houston Press Eating Our Words, and My Table on Facebook, all of which do a great job of posting events.  Try one and see how much fun they are!