Thanks for the great responses. I'm sorry that it has taken me such a long time to reply since my initial post; I haven't been on Chowhound in a while and was pleased to see the various responses to my initial thread.
I don't have all that much to update since my initial post. I've been back to Al Aseel a few times since and sampled some of their other fare -- pomfret fish and lamb chops. Both were decent, though neither approached the chicken.
I also went in search of some good Chinese dumplings and tried to track down a place I visited when I first arrived in Houston -- Dumpling King in Belliare Chinatown. It turns out that the Korean restaurant next door (Arirang) has absorbed the place. They still make dumplings, which are pretty tasty, but the place lacks the "diviness" (and hence authenticity) of the original a bit. It feels strange to be eating Chinese dumplings in a relatively hi-tech Korean restaurant.
Another poster recommended Hunyh. I've been here twice. I know the place is universally beloved, but I just can't seem to see what is so great about the place. The same with Van Loc. The food is okay, but I don't see what the big deal.
I've been to Radical Eats as well and agree that the food is great and much under-hyped. I haven't been to the new meat incarnation on Montrose but hope to get there soon. I've heard mixed things about Mainely Sandwiches -- particularly that it is expensive and that you don't get much bang for your buck.
A few other places that I've enjoyed:
I'll definitely check out Mandi Halal Cuisine. Thanks for the recommnendation. I also want to check out Lucy Ethiopian.
Something I really miss from New York is a place for great sandwiches. Potbelly and Jimmy John's just don't do it for me. Local Foods was good once or twice, but their menu is limited and boring. (How many times can one eat a crunchy chicken sandwich?) Kenny and Ziggy's is exorbitantly expensive. Any ideas? Also, what about great pizza places?
I've been in Houston almost two years now, having arrived from New York. While I was initially excited by the thought of moving to a city that was increasingly being noted for its food, especially its ethnic food, I have to say that I've been somewhat disappointed. I've been to the three restaurants that have received the most accolades recently -- Oxheart, Underbelly, and Uchi -- and I've found all three to be very anticlimactic and underwhelming. They are all expensive and over-hyped.
The best restaurants I've found in Houston have generally been tucked away in strip malls and noted only by a few culinary cognoscenti. A few have been mentioned at times on this site -- places like Peking Cuisine, Mexico's Deli, Al Aseel, and Pollo Bravo, to name a few. These are places with delicious, inexpensive food that fly beneath the radar.
I'm curious to hear if others have their favorite "hidden gems" that are deserving of more notice. If so, please share! I realize that in sharing, we all run the risk of having our favorites overrun. But know that at least one hungry fellow who is eager to change his view of the Houston culinary scene will appreciate your views.