It’s not even Halloween (as I write this) but I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving! Despite all the craziness, we have much to be thankful for, including a brand-new Portuguese Indian restaurant.
Just north of I-10 you’ll find (or not; signage is lacking) Da Gama, a place that’s already getting buzz as one of Houston’s best new restaurants.
I walked in to find my friend Bill already seated. We decided to order a feast.
But first, a cocktail. The Banananeira will knock your socks off. The drink starts as a bourbon sour, then banana liqueur and lime and pineapple juices are added for a burst of bright flavors that dance on the tongue.
Prawn Balchao features same-day caught Gulf shrimp, with a sweet and sour Goan tamarind chili sauce hitting all the right notes. Tamarind is sometimes referred to as the “date of India” — more about dates later!
Note: Goa on India’s western coast was a Portuguese colony until 1961. The mix of cuisines at Da Gama makes sense!
Goan sausage is smoky and delicious in Da Gama’s Choris Chili Fry. From the name you might guess that the sausage is like Chorizo. It’s sautéed with roasted peppers, potatoes, and greens. A Grade-A dish, and really not all that spicy.
Peanut Chicken Tikka was a minor letdown. Instead of being drowned in sauce, the clay oven-roasted Tandoori chicken is coated in a peanut and coconut dry chutney and served with raita, a chilled yogurt sauce. I found the chicken dry, though pleasantly flavored.
Throughout dinner, we munched on what Bill and I both consider the best naan ever. At Da Gama, it’s almost as if naan and puff pastry comingled. The mouthfeel is incredible, and I hate to think how much ghee is used in its preparation.
For our wine selection, we chose a Joao Pato “Baaaga Duck” Vinho Tinto, a clean, chilled red. It’s perfect as a background wine that goes with anything yet lets the flavor of the food shine through.
We couldn’t leave without dessert. Ras Malai, a sponge cake soaked in saffron milk, went over the top with whisper-light ricotta “Cool Whip” and pistachio crumble.
I’m not usually a fan of dates (bacon-wrapped, at parties, I avoid at all costs) but the Sticky Date Cake won me over. Topped with caramelized banana, the dulce de leche caramel that enveloped the cake had a glassy crunch I could enjoy every day.
A minor quibble? I’m not sure which decade inspired what little décor is there, the ’80s or the ’90s, but Da Gama’s dining room is dated (in a brand-new building) and in need of color.
Color is something a meal at Da Gama will never lack. Free parking is plentiful, with spots reserved for charging your EV while dining. Just look for the yellow spires of Building 5 in the M-K-T development.
600 N. Shepherd, Suite 520
Houston, TX 77007