The new Kim Son
- luckyfatima Jan 31, 2008 09:50 AM
Has anyone tried the new Austin branch of Houston origin Vietnamese restaurant Kim Son? I heard that the sauces and marinades etc. are shipped in from Houston so I expected it to be as great as the Houston locales (I like both the Houston Kim Son giant buffet and the regular Kim Son). But some friends from the Austin Vietnamese community were saying that it wasn't nearly as good as the Houston branches. I think maybe since it is a new place it will have growing pains and then get better as some places do. Anywayz, has anyone been there and what did you think if so?
Went for Dim Sum coupla Sundays back. It was just OK. Not the best DS in Austin, not the worst. Didn't try Vietnamese menu, though have been in Houston & it rocked.
Well, wifey wanted to go to Sunflower tonight, but I talked her into going to Kim Son. Very nice looking place - well appointed for a strip mall. There was some sort of formal gathering going on in the banquent room...not sure if they use that room for Din Sum and general eating. We ate in the formal dining room.
Host was very nice. His name was Paul. I don't think that he was Vietnamese because he said that he couldn't speak Vietnamese - our waitress was. She was very sweet and accomodating, but couldn't speak much english. The rest of the staff seemed very nice - they are well dressed (white tops, black pants) and the atmosphere was more formal than I expected.
Anyhow, we were hopeful when we opened the menu - it seemed very extensive. Unfortunately, on further inspection, it became evident that the menu also had a heavy Chinese influence (Sesame hunan beef kung pao general tso's chicken type Chinese). So, we had to hunt and peck for real Vietnamese. There's a section of the menu dealing with crabs, but my wife doesn't like to mess with blue crabs. We opted for the grilled meat trifecta platter (can't remember what it is called). Then I ordered Bo Bun Hue all the way. What arrive were mountains of sprouts, cucumbers, sliced carrots, daikon, cilatro, thai basil, mint, and gobs of lettuce to accompany both dishes. We also ordered a decent crab asparagus soup. The grilled meats were "vietnamese fajitas," a funny name for grilled lemongrass beef, "honey" chicken, and charcoal shrimp. Rice paper and a bowl of hot water were also present. All three meats were grilled well, although I'm pretty sure that it is a gas grill; meats were served atop a bed of vermicelli. This dish was a ton of food for $13.95.
The Bo Bun Hue didn't come with pork blood or any shrimp paste condiment, but it was spicy, with spaghetti type noodles, a spicy rich (but greasy) broth, knuckle, and very tender strips of browned brisket (almost like they were grilled before stewing or something). We were so full from the vegetable and grilled meat cornicopia that I could only take a few slurps and bites before asking to take it to go.
When I got the bill, the Bo Bun Hue line said:
"Bo Bun Hue
I can't remember. So I called the waitress over to see what I missed. I'd specifically asked for everything, but then she said that Americans don't like that. Paul came to the rescue and got some congealed pork blood thrown into my to go Bo Bun Hue.
All in all, I'll be back. It won't take the place of Sunflower, but we eat a lot of Vietnamese......
thanks for the detailed description in your review. I presume that banquet room is for Chinese-Vietnamese and Vietnamese family wedding banquets like they have at Tien Hong and Sea Dragon. So they must be competing for wedding bookings, too.
Hmmm, Vietnamese fajitas? I think cuz Kim Son gets a lot of non-VN customers in Houston they have used creative language with the food labelling...I think a lot of Chinese Vietnamese restaurants keep those General Tso's and Kung Pao on the menu for the non-VNese who are less savvy with VN food and want some American Chinese, just to keep that sort of customer, too. That is super annoying when waitstaff presume that because you are of a certain ethnic background, they take the decision for you that you won't like or cannot eat!
Well, you seem to be confirming what I heard before, Kim Son is thus far okay but not great. I still hope they get better.
Oh man. I hate that shit. It's just continuing to keep American palates limited and ignorant. ESPECIALLY since you SPECIFIED you wanted everything. Ugh. Once I went to Hong Kong City market in Houston to get duck eggs for balut and they kept trying to sell me unfertilized eggs.
I grew up in Houston and really the only great meal I ever had at Kim Son was at a Vietnamese wedding reception held at the big downtown location. I was only 12 at the time but I was the only non-Vietnamese there and they marveled at the little white girl (cuban/spanish actually, but white as far as they were concerned) inhaling her blood cubes and trying to get at the pigeon's brains. I also, being a novelty, had to dance with all of my friend's fathers business partners.. (which felt pretty icky to my 12 year old self).
Since then, I'd mainly eaten at the Sugar Land location, and I think that one is especially diluted. My family wants to go there every time I'm in town and I remember the menu being pretty boring, except for the duck soup. With vietnamese food, I like the extremes I guess.. Either just a nice bowl of pho, or it had better have a head or organs involved somehow.
Had a good dinner there last weekend, our first try of the place. Our appetizers was Cornish hen with sticky rice -- sick crispy/succulent pieces of hacked up hen and two lightly fried patties of coconut-infused sticky rice. I'm not really a sticky rice partisan, but I liked these. Our entrees were green beans with ground pork (the beans a bit overdone, but the taste was good) and lemongrass tofu (flavorful, not greasy, tofu had fresh tofu taste). My wife declared it better than Le Soleil, which is, like, sacrilege in our house. I'm hardly prepared to go that far -- it'll take a few more visits and a sampling of their hot pots before I weigh in -- but it's certainly a place that we've added to our rotation. In fact, we're headed off now to see how the dimsum is. I'll give a report after I get back.
Report on today's dim sum: Good, not quite great. Chinese broccoli and shrimp with leek dumplings were very fresh and delicious. Everything else was good, but both my wife and I had a sense that the kitchen had too heavy a hand with the salt. At times I thought maybe it was just that the soy sauce on the table was particularly salty, which effected most of the dishes, but even the congee was too salty. Still, the waitstaff was extremely friendly and solicitous toward our infant, and I sure liked dimsumming in a spacious banquet hall, so we'll be back.