Melting Pots

At these restaurants, three of Houston's immigrant cuisines-and delicious culinary adventures-are on the menu.

BECAUSE IT IS BIGMORE than 4.6 million people—and because it is a port of entry, Houston draws immigrants from all over the world. They get off the plane, the boat, or the bus; they stagger into the city’s hot, humid, ozone-permeated embrace; and—fortunately for the rest of us—many of them open restaurants. That is why Houston is a buffet, a smorgasbord, a rijsttafel of international cuisines. I could have written about Argentine, Austrian, Belgian, Brazilian, Chinese, Colombian, Cuban, Ethiopian, French, German, Italian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Swiss, or Thai restaurants, to name the main ones. But in the interest of my sanity and my waistline, I decided to focus on three: Indian, Vietnamese, and Japanese, each category represented by at least two dozen establishments. (In case you’re curious, there are 67,000 Vietnamese in the Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, 57,000 Indians, and 6,400 Japanese.) I was drawn to them in part because each has a distinctive culinary profile. When I walk into an Indian restaurant, I know I will find fragrant, spicy braised dishes and rich sauces; a Vietnamese cafe will have

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