PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Houston

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108 SMOKIN' GOOD W here there's s m o k e , there's fire — and when you throw a skilled team of chefs into the mix, the result is big, bold flavor. International Smoke at CityCentre is a collaborative effort from celebrity chef Michael Mina and Food Network starlet Ayesha Curry. Calling their ambitious 130-seat eatery "another barbecue joint" completely misses the point of this globally influenced concept. Over the centuries, nearly every culture has embraced cooking with fire, from Japanese yakitori and Mongolian barbecue in Taiwan to churrasco in Brazil and Korean bulgogi. Forget about the Weber gas grill at home. Consider all the people around the world who cook in a clay oven, in a hole in the ground, atop a hot stone, or with a rotisserie — employing a quick sear or the low, slow, steady smoke emitted by burning embers. At International Smoke, Houston chef E.J. Miller mans the open kitchen, churning out such global fare as Vietnamese pork chop ($29), Carne Asada steak and potatoes ($34), and smoked Korean short ribs ($34). The team plays artistically with smoke, too: The smoked burrata salad with prosciutto, grilled peaches and corn is served under a glass cloche that releases a waft of smoke when removed tableside ($15). Beef and pork have starring roles on the menu, in dishes such as 44 Farms Texas Angus filet mignon ($52), 18-ounce bone-in strip ($58), and St. Louis cut pork ribs with three rub and sauce options ($19 to $45). And then there's the charcoal-grilled shellfish. Mina, who is revered for his incredible skill with seafood, offers panko-crusted cherrystone clams ($12/24), Gulf Coast jumbo shrimp ($15/30), grilled lobster tail (MP), and Alaskan king crab ($28), all cooked briefly on a charcoal grill and presented on a bed of shaved ice; the server pours fragrant lemongrass sea tea on top and offers an unctuous miso- corn butter sauce for dipping. Situated in the 6,000-square-foot former home of Straits Restaurant, this is the second location for the growing brand. The space was designed by Bishop Pass, which plays up the grilling theme with black steel, butcher-block-like tabletops, and a splash of graffiti inside, while the L-shaped patio is ensconced with charred- wood walls, vine-wrapped trellises, and a vertical garden of greens. International Smoke, CityCentre, 800 Sorella Court, 713.714.0126, BY LAURANN CLARIDGE. PHOTOGRAPHY SHANNON O'HARA. Vietnamese pork chop Chef E.J. Miller International Smoke DUC HOANG

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