Houston’s Chinatown, and the street signs are in Chinese (not sure if it’s Mandarin or Cantonese … ). Everywhere you look there are restaurants, and bars, and massage parlors and places for a foot massage. Last night we bypassed the massages and went straight for the food.

Chris, Anna and I ventured out to try Mamak Malaysian, and we were impressed. It’s BYOB, so we started with a bottle of Prosecco, followed by a Gewürztraminer. Appetizers of taro-enrobed fried shrimp and a roti, the latter of which is worth a repeat order.

Next came a curry soup, for my money the best dish of the night. Rich, coconut-milk broth, fish skin, tofu, scallions, and very good noodles, noodles that maintained their firmness until the bowl was empty. And it was a large bowl, ample for three people to share. We also had nasi lemak, which is the national dish of Malaysia. Small fish – very small, think infant anchovies – peanuts, fresh cucumber slices, other assorted vegetables, all surrounding a mound of rice.

We then decided to share a main course (see photo below), the restaurant’s “famous” lobster. It’s actually two lobsters, barbecued with shrimp paste rubbed on the shell, with peppers, both hot and mild. And for $25, it’s a bargain. It will also have you making a trip to the lavatory to wash your hands mid-meal. The meat was tender, and briny, and fresh, and the lobsters came to the table too hot too handle … we were forced to wait a few minutes before we could pick up the claws and knuckles and crack them, releasing the sweet meat. It was worth the wait. There’s a reason it is Mamak’s “famous” dish.

Anna takes the claw in hands.

Anna takes the claw in hands.

Two lobster, slathered in shrimp-paste sauce.

Two lobsters, bathed in a shrimp-paste sauce.