[HOU] Best Vietnamese?
Visiting Houston this weekend and would like to have some Vietnamese. We are staying in the Rice Village area but would be ok with driving out to Bellaire Chinatown. What's your favorite Vietnamese place in Houston? What menu items do you recommend from this place?
In Mid-Town I like Mai's and Van Loc. Both excellent. No one has mentioned Kim Son, multiple locations, which was the main restaurant that brought Vietnamese cuisine to our attention. It is still a very good restaurant and their menu is massive. The original Kim Son is just off of 288 (a short distance from Rice Village) as it merges with 59 North.
In Rice Village there is Miss Saigon - a fairly decent Vietnamese restaurant. Haven't been there in a couple of years but had great tofu and spring rolls.
At Mai's I love the garlic tofu. Not what you would think. Tofu with jalapeno slices, garlic cloves, asparagus, and tomatoes. They also have this in meat versions. The dipping sauce is a lemon/salt/pepper concoction. Very good.
re: Lily Dale
mai's bo luc lac (beef with garlic) and the fried soft shelled crab in butter is wonderful (better than vinh hoa). if you like vietnamese hot and sour soup, their's is fantastic (better than tay do). i order the one with shrimp as a meal as it is very large. unfortunately, the quality at mai's is very inconsistent. the fried egg rolls (cha gio) are chewy sometimes and it is obvious that they have been par-fried first, and then fried a second time, in order to save time in the kitchen. the spring roll (goi cuon) wrappers are sometimes dry indicating that they were made far in advance. also, mai's is open very late (until 3 or 4 am on weekends), so perfect after a night on the town. the menu is posted on their website: http://www.maisrestauranttx.com/
the quality at van loc has decreased significantly over the years. so has the cleanliness. i avoid this place now. i also don't go to the kim son downtown. the prices more expensive and the food just doesn't justify the price tag.
since i live close to downtown, i go to pho saigon for pho, givral sandwiches for vietnamese sandwiches or rice platters w/ grilled pork, mo mong for banh xeo (vietnamese crepe) and mai's for all the rest. i hear nga is not bad, but i haven't tried it. i've also heard vietnam in the heights is good (and BYOB) although it isn't as good as it used to be.
the best vietnamese is in chinatown, but since all the chinese near downtown is terrible, when i make the drive to chinatown it is almost always exclusively for chinese or korean on occasion.
I've been to Mai's and Van Loc about four times each. Van Loc has been more consistent for me, but nothing ever very good or very bad. Mai's in just the few times I've been there has varied widely in quality of both food and service. On my last visit I got the soft shell crab sautéed with onions, garlic, and jalapeños, and it blew my socks off. Truly, one of my most memorable Vietnamese meals. However, my companion at the same table was served cha gio that must have been at least a day old and something else that was barely fit to eat. Our waiter was glued to a TV set watching some sports event and had no time to bother with us. As good as that crab thing was, I doubt I'll ever go back to Mai's after that experience.
I also like Tay Do... there's so many good Vietnamese restaurants in Houston. But I think my favorite is actually outside of Chinatown, and in Montrose. Mo Mong offers Vietnamese fusion which is interesting, but for the best authentic Vietnamese food, I really recommend Hollywood Vietnamese. It is IMHO the best in Houston.
No one in Houston seems to be resonding so here goes...
When we were in Houston, we went to Tay Do on Bellaire, recommended by a local Vietnamese. David liked the fried calamari and clay pot (both his favorites). My favorite dish, Hu Tieu Ap Chao, wasn't that good (I like BistroB's version better). Next time we are in Houston, we'll try Chino's Fast Food.
I got many responses when I posted--esp. hch nguyen knows a lot about Vietnamese restaurants in Houston.
This thread is also helpful.
Also, we saw a huge line for the crawfish place in the food court behind Tay Do and almost everyone in the food court was eating the crawfish, so we'll try that, too, next time.
A little banh mi place was recommended across Bellaire in the shopping centere where Lee's Sandwiches is. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was closed and we had to settle for Lee's.
BTW, never go to this dim sum place in Rice Village. The food was pretty bad--nowhere near the dim sum in HK.
Wow, saw this a little late. Definitely will second kuidaore's recommendation of the clay pot fish at Tay Do, it's amazing!
Also, I've read on numerous occasions on this board about good vietnamese in Midtown, which is a shorter drive from Rice Village compared to Bellaire. Unfortunately, I don't have any personal experience to share as I'm hardly ever in that part of town. Mai's, Pho Nga, and Van Loc have all been suggested pretty frequently in Midtown.