When David Chang’s new food series Ugly Delicious made its Netflix debut, it was somewhat unsurprising that Houston played a prominent role. The city is featured extensively in episode four, titled Shrimp & Crawfish, Chang assembles a who’s who of Houston chefs to explore the unique deliciousness of Viet-Cajun crawfish.
In addition to the focus on crawfish, Chang and his consortium of local chefs visit iconic local restaurants and Vietnamese eateries to get a real look at what Houston’s food identity really is. These five spots have a starring role in Ugly Delicious, which means that they’re soon going to be really, really crowded.
David Chang and Chef Chris Shepherd don’t actually dine inside Underbelly during the episode, instead hosting a Vietnamese pig roast and crawfish boil, complete with cocktail sauce made by Justin Yu with Whataburger ketchup. While crawfish won’t be on the menu at Underbelly, it’s still worth a visit after viewing Ugly Delicious because it’s been such an integral part of Houston’s culinary identity, and it’s about to close in March. 1100 Westheimer Road.
Named as Chris Shepherd’s favorite banh mi shop, Cali Sandwiches has been open in Houston since the 1980s and is consistently described as one of the city’s favorite destinations for sandwiches like fish ball banh mi, pictured above. 2900 Travis Street.
Oxheart (Theodore Rex)
Oxheart closed its doors back in 2017, but the space lives on as Theodore Rex. Catch Yu there serving a more casual, equally creative menu of dishes like Charleston Gold rice and butter beans and beef cheek stewed in pickle juice. 1302 Nance Street.
Crawfish & Noodles
A roundtable at this Asiatown crawfish stalwart features Yu, Shepherd, Chang, and Crawfish & Noodles owner Trong Nguyen discussing the state of Houston food. Later, Chang feasts on Nguyen’s classic garlic-butter crawfish, and the less-traditional (yet equally delicious) ginger-lemongrass mudbugs. 11360 Bellaire Boulevard.
One of Houston’s few restaurants focusing on Hue cuisine, a prominent Vietnamese food city. Chef Ai Le serves “Vietnamese tamales” to the duo of chefs, along with crystal shrimp dumplings that inspire a “holy cow” reaction from Chang. 6938 Wilcrest Drive.
For a full recap of each and every Ugly Delicious episode, check out Eater.com’s in-depth guide to the show.