How to Spend a Day in Dun Huang Plaza


The Bellaire Boulevard strip mall can be overwhelming to newcomers. Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

By Abby Ledoux  June 22, 2018  Published in the July 2018 issue of Houstonia Magazine

I FIRST EXPERIENCED Dun Huang Plaza last Thanksgiving. With no plans, no family in a 2,000-mile radius, and no idea how to cook a turkey, it was the perfect time for this Newstonian to pay a visit. From the outside, I’ll admit, 9889 Bellaire Blvd. didn’t look like much. But appearances deceive. After finally finding a parking space, I wandered the little shops, tasty bakeries, and great restaurants lining the plaza’s four multi-story buildings, entranced. I’ve now returned many times, usually with visiting friends in tow, always eager to introduce them to this little strip mall of magic. Every time is like the first, and no one leaves disappointed. Want to plan your own day at Dun Huang? Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

11 a.m.: Brunch at HK Dim Sum

Set the tone for a day of indulgence, and be sure to bring a friend—this is a meal made for sharing. Supplied with a menu and pen, you order by marking off your chosen fare; we love the steamed barbecue pork buns and red bean sesame balls. A word of advice: Go for the smaller portions, as you’re going to need to pace yourself.

12:30 p.m.: Shopping at Ichimaru

Walk off your morning meal by wandering the mall. Don’t miss this Japanese beauty store full of novelty face masks in charcoal, gold, and patterned sheets, the last of which will transform you into a cat or a princess. And be sure to grab a squishy keychain, one of those cute toys—think smiling sushi—that act something like a stress ball.

1 p.m.: More shopping at Korean Blooming Cosmetics

Around the corner, there’s a vast selection of K-Beauty, the highly popular Korean skin-care products known for their youth-infusing, hydrating properties. Super-light, water-based sunscreen is a bestseller; we also recommend the lip tints in packaging shaped like wine bottles.

2 p.m.: Goodies from Six Ping Bakery

For just a few bucks, you can stock up on any number of stuffed breads—from milky coconut to green tea to red bean—at this popular Chinese bakery. Mouthwatering cakes beckon from behind glass, some stacked with colorful fruit and others shaped like cartoon characters, including Totoro and Hello Kitty, which make picture-perfect souvenirs … until later, when you devour them. 

2:30 p.m.: Treatments at Canyon Foot Massage

You’ve been working hard. The opportunity to lie down and relax in a dark, cool room and de-stress is a beautiful thing. Head to this modest massage center, where a standard hour-long reflexology session runs $25, and the most expensive service on offer—90 minutes of foot and body massage, plus a steam—caps at $60. Draped in a blanket with your feet dangling in warm water, you may find it all too easy to fall asleep to the sounds of soothing piano, but adroitly applied pressure will wake you up and leave you feeling ready to continue the day.