Polynesia is an island chain that spans from Hawaii to New Zealand. The history of these islands is punctuated by the arrival of the British explorer, Capitan James Cook, in 1778. Food, culture, and ideas are measured in relation to this event. As a tropical island chain, Polynesian food centers on fish, fruit (such as breadfruit), and Taro, a starchy root. Through navigational intelligence passed on from one generation to the next through oral tradition, Polynesians traveled thousands of miles on the oceans which has resulted in a modern culture that is infused with several outside influences from the East.
One dish that you can find available in Houston is Poke (pronunciation: rhymes with "okay"). This raw fish salad predates the appearance of Captain Cook, though its modern adaptation and ongoing evolution is a contemporary effort that is being crowdsourced through a myriad of new poke restaurants.
Although there are now dozens of poke restaurants that have surfaced recently, we went to Houston's first Poke eatery to feature the dish for the blog. Check out Ono Poke on the south side of down town. My own preference is for the more traditional (read: simpler) versions of the dish, but don't be afraid to customize yours to taste.
Eat All you Dinner
If you have ever taken a class in comparative religions, then you have probably heard about Mana, a pervasive in animate life force which is controlled by certain people or objects. Mana is an essential component to the Polynesian worldview. This is not just a fun fact about Polynesia, but it relates to food since Mana can be used to cast spells against a person by using something that has been in their mouth. Because of this, Polynesians finish all of their food. The parent in me admits that this is several degrees more creative than the "starving children" line that was used on me to get me to finish all of my food as a kid.
Our interview with Houston’s most interesting restaurateur has been more than a year in the making. We have this much awaited conversation on site at her new restaurant, Horn of Africa.
Grab a shawarma at Alsafa, the first halal meat market in Katy.
Phoenicia: a Houston food institution and a “museum of food” that every Houstonian should explore.
Explore the first and oldest Japanese market in Houston, and grab a cream puff while you’re there.
The intrepid explorers sailed around the world and brought back exotic new foods from the Americas while leaving their stamp on the world as far as the Philippines. With plenty of tapas to choose from and some of the only Moroccan food it the city, you need to add Andalusia to your list.
Nepal is where the East meets the West, and the North meets the South. It is also where the Sky meets the land. With the world's highest peak, Nepalis have their own time zone and have an independent spirit that has never been conquered.
Explore a Japanese market new to West Houston, and grab some ingredients to make something tasty and traditional (like Miso Soup)!
Cafe Brussels is not only the final outpost for Belgian food, but is also a cultural hub for Belgians and several other networks of Europeans who live here in Houston.
Whatever you think you know about Asian flavor profiles, forget it. Korean food has its own unique blend. Although it is often reduced to kimchi and Korean BBQ, or not the fried chicken craze (both notable food categories in their own right), today, we go to Go Hyang, which means something to the equivalent of "My Home Cooking"
Learn why "fish and rice make a Bengali" as we try food from the world's largest river delta.