With Asians beings one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in Houston, it’s no secret that Houston’s Chinatown is bursting at the seams with fun, affordable things to do. Originally located in East Downtown (EaDo), Chinatown has since shifted southwest and is now populated with Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Korean, and many more populations. To keep up with demand, businesses sprouted up all over Bellaire Blvd., leaving Houstonians with a diverse, exciting area to explore. Here are some of the best things to do in Chinatown Houston:
While Houston’s Chinatown is known for its plethora of restaurants, don’t assume that it’s all Chinese cuisine. In Houston’s Chinatown, you can enjoy Chinese xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Fu Fu Café and then walk across the street to Mamak for some fiery Malaysian food. Maybe you’re in the mood for some tonkatsu ramen at Tiger Den or some fusion food at Cafe 101. Then when you’re ready for dessert, try some Taiwanese ribbon ice at Nu Café or Thai-style rolled ice cream at Class 502. And the best part? All of these restaurants are within the same plaza, and most are very affordable. You don’t even need to move your car! Just remember to bring some cash as there may be a few places that don’t accept cards.
One thing that you have to try is Houston Chinatown crawfish. While many Houstonians have definitely had their fair share of the popular crustacean, Vietnamese crawfish adds a bold Asian twist, served with eggrolls or banh mi. You can get a taste at Crawfish Cafe, Crawfish & Noodles (featured on the popular Netflix series Ugly Delicious), or Cajun Kitchen.
If you’re looking for a great bargain, look no further than Harwin Drive, Chinatown Houston’s shopping district. You can find almost everything here, from cellphones to formal wear. Vendors change often so you’re in for a surprise during every visit. Even if you just window shop, it can be great free entertainment!
Hong Kong City Mall is another great Chinatown spot; an indoor mall containing dozens of restaurants, cafes, and small shops, all mostly Vietnamese. However, the most notable place to check out is Hong Kong Food Market. Here you can find all sorts of uncommon and international groceries and trinkets.
If there’s one thing that Chinatown loves, it’s karaoke. And the plethora of karaoke options is evident of that. Once you’re done stuffing yourself with food, it’s time to chill with a group of friends with some drinks and good vibes. Many of the bars, like Yes KTV, are upscale and have private rooms that you can rent. You’ll be served with a selection over 10,000 songs in multiple languages that is updated frequently, so you’ll be in for hours of fun.
Reflexology massages are to die for. And while driving up and down Bellaire Blvd., you’ll see the streets lined with businesses offering them. Many offer incredible services but will only cost you $20 for a full-hour foot massage (but these often include leg and even shoulder massages) or a full-body massage ranging from $40 – $60. Some places to check out are Oasis Massage & Salon and Lucky Feet. Of course, always check reviews and make sure you’re going to a legitimate massage parlor.
If you are uncertain where to start in Chinatown, try taking an Asian Heritage Tour with the Chinese Community Center. They offer tours that explore tea-tasting and herbology, Chinese calligraphy, dim sum, Tai Chi, and shopping. All tours are led by those who have extensive and personal knowledge on each subject. Tours are available by appointment only but can accommodate groups of different sizes. You can also check out Teo Chew Temple, which is absolutely beautiful to tour and is open to the public. The temple runs on donations so feel free to give a little cash if you’re able to do so.
What is your favorite spot to hit up in Chinatown Houston? Let us know in the comments below!