Our My Top 5 series showcases Houstonians who are creating the city’s culture and community and asks them to share their own local favorites. This week we’re delighted to feature Alex Au-Yeung, chef and owner of Phat Eatery. Located in Katy Asian Town, the restaurant celebrates the height of Malaysian comfort food, but also strives to change the status quo of Asian restaurants by transforming how they are perceived.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by Alex Au-Yeung
- Pho — I got hooked on pho when I had my first bowl back in the early ’90s when I first came to the U.S. When I go to the International District to pick up produce, I always stop into Pho Binh for their pho ga, or chicken pho, but my all time favorite has to be Vietopia. My off-menu order, which boss lady Sammi knows very well, is Pho Tai Nam, no tai, just nam, no cilantro, no onion, steamed bean sprouts, extra jalapeño on the side. She remembers my order pretty well after more than a decade of stopping in.
- Star Sports Bar — During the construction phase of Phat, I found this neighborhood gem. From the staff to the owner, everyone is super friendly. It’s a perfect spot for the restaurant crew and myself to unwind after a long grind. Johnny, the manager, can even read our faces. Every time we get that certain look, he’ll ask, “Record-breaking day?”
- Relax at Home — It’s not easy in this industry, but I love spending quality time with my family. If able to have some kind of balance, I will be very grateful. When I have the time, I play with our two young daughters, hop in the pool, cook (never Malaysian at home, steak and hot pot are family favorites), and I read a lot. I always want to learn something new, from cooking stuff to real estate investing. Next, I’m looking forward to watching the MasterClass video series. At the top of my list are the ones with Howard Schultz on business leadership and Aaron Franklin’s—I made Chinese barbecue for a couple of years, but I really have no idea about Texas barbecue and would love to see how it’s done from one of the best.
- Waterparks — I’ve loved going to waterpark my whole life. Back in the day, we had to go all the way to North Houston or New Braunfels, but now we have a lot of choices. My 11-year-old daughter and I especially love Typhoon Texas, which is only 5 minutes from the restaurant—we can pretty much go there during my breaks.
- Crawfish Season – Crawfish are one of those things I didn’t experience until moving to Houston. In the late ‘90s, Seafood Shoppe on Westheimer had the best, and we ordered from them a couple times a week. Then one day, I learned that crawfish are a seasonal catch and almost needed to find a support group to help me through to next season. Nowadays there are so many talents that take crawfish to a whole new level. We are fortunate that with Houston diverse food scene, there are so many ways to enjoy crawfish; Cajun, Texas, Viet Cajun, and even Szechuan, everyone has their own twist on the mudbugs. Nick’s Crawfish Bar in the Hong Kong City Mall has a style of its own. There is no garlic butter and no dust, but that sweet, pungent, spicy flavor gets so deep into the crawfish itself that it’s addictive. Now there is also a location on Highway 6 so we can enjoy their crawfish without the drive to Bellaire.
About Alex Au-Yeung
Malaysian born, Hong Kong raised, and a Houston resident since he was 17, Alex Au-Yeung has been a major player in introducing Malaysian cuisine to Houstonians. After pursuing successful careers running his own automotive shop, a first restaurant, and a point-of-sale company, Au-Yeung returned to Hong Kong for intensive culinary training under esteemed chefs to better understand the elements of Cantonese cooking. Once back in Houston, he partnered to open Banana Leaf on Bellaire Boulevard, which was so well received that it was named among Houston Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants for eight years. In June 2018, Chef Au-Yeung opened Phat Eatery in Katy Asian Town, where he has taken a slightly different approach, providing a curated menu of Malaysian street food prepared with fresh ingredients and emphasizing excellent service.