Foodie News

Another Austin restaurant rolls into Houston — and this one has major, decade-long plans

Another Austin restaurant rolls into Houston — this one has big plans

Mama Fu's in River Oaks exterior day November 2013
Mama Fu's is now open in River Oaks.  Mama Fu's Asian House - River Oaks/Facebook
Mama Fu's Asian House River Oaks test run November 2013
Diners line up at a test run on November 20 ... Mama Fu's Asian House - River Oaks/Facebook
Mama Fu's sesame chicken with vegetables
... to sample dishes like sesame chicken with vegetables. Mama Fu's/Twitter
Mama Fu's in River Oaks exterior day November 2013
Mama Fu's Asian House River Oaks test run November 2013
Mama Fu's sesame chicken with vegetables

The Austin restaurant invasion isn't slowing down.

Austin-based chain restaurant Mama Fu's opened its first Houston location in the former Souper Salad space at West Gray and Dunlavy this week. It's the first of 18 locations scheduled to open across Houston over the next 10 years by local Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee Steve Chappelear.

 Seems like it's better than the Genghis Grills of the world and not as exciting as that favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant. 

Pei Wei is the chain's most obvious competition, and Mama Fu's does a few things to set itself apart from the national, fast-casual juggernaut. First, there's a broader range of influences guiding the dishes, with Korean and Vietnamese flavors alongside the familiar Thai and Chinese. Mama Fu's also emphasizes uses fresh ingredients and making dishes to order.

When he revealed the move last year, Chappelear told Eater that Mama Fu's offers a "lighter, fresher product" than the competition. 

But still, anyone familiar with Pei Wei will likely find the "flex-casual" experience familiar. Line up, choose a dish and a protein, order at a counter. A runner brings the food to the table. Seems like it's better than the Genghis Grills of the world and not as exciting as that favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

Been to Mama Fu's either in Houston or elsewhere? Sound off in the comments. Is the restaurant a welcome addition to the scene or just another ho-hum chain?