New + Noteworthy

New + Noteworthy
Pondicheri, Houston
Courtesy of Pondicheri

Pondicheri

Houston

This hip newbie in the West Ave development is abuzz with followers of sister restaurant Indika; they seem to be quite enjoying the industrial-chic environs brightened with Indian fabrics and tropical colors. From the limited menu (which should be larger by the time you visit), we started with lightly fried samosas filled with warm paneer and served with a fruity-feisty tamarind-date chutney, a clear winner. Our textured salad of sweet beets, jícama, candied walnuts, and barley was tasty if eccentric, but sadly, our cucumber-mango salad was marred with rock-hard, unripe mango chunks. The melt-in-your-mouth pistachio-cardamom butter cookies are baked in-house. Beer & wine. 2800 Kirby Dr, at Westheimer Rd (713-522-2022). Open Mon–Sat 7 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun 8–10 (drinks & appetizers only from 3–5). $$–$$$ +

Malai Thai-Vietnamese Kitchen

Dallas

Forkless sticky rice invites you to play with your food; roll tiny balls with your fingers and dip them into the eggplant–red pepper sauce for a zingy amuse-bouche. Lemongrass soup was a hot and sour broth full of plentiful shrimp, fresh cherry tomatoes, and tender shiitake mushrooms, while the Hanoi filet had a savory ginger-garlic rub and sides of purple cauliflower purée and wok-seared vegetables. We polished off this horizon-expanding dinner with the sweet Mango Sticky Rice Smash. There’s a lovely patio for spring and summer dining. Bar. 3699 McKinney Ave (972-591-3387). Open 7 days 11–11. $$–$$$ +

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