Hmong in Fresno: House of Food?
- Melanie Wong May 29, 2008 10:21 PM
Cruising Fresno a couple weeks ago, the "Grand Opening" sign on the House of Food caught my eye. Even more so the marquee promising Chinese and Hmong food.
I pulled over to investigate further. This handwritten menu offering Chinese food, Hmong sausage, smoothies, etc. is posted in the window.
Even though there were people inside, the door was locked. Per the posted hours, it's closed on Saturday and Sunday. 'Hounds can check it out M-F, 11am to 6pm.
It's in the strip mall next to the public library on Clinton and Cedar.
I had also passed by Hmong Food Express. Any updates on this place?
Hmong Food Express
4305 E Tulare St, Fresno, CA 93702
House of Food
4160 E Clinton Ave, Fresno, CA 93703
Thanks for the mention of House of Food, and the rest of your sleuthing to find Hmong food in Fresno, Melanie! Thanks to this and another post of yours:
I was inspired to check out House of Food rather than follow my ususal quest for albondigas in Fresno. After all, I was on my way to LA, where I can get all the variety of Mexican eats I want....
House of Food is on a corner with plenty of parking, and really not too far off the freeway. Fortunately, since this was a pit stop for me between Merced and LA, there is a large, nice restroom. Everything is cash only, but no worries, at the prices they charge you don't need lots.
The place is nicely air-conditioned, so I took my time checking out the menu. Really, this is more of an ice-cream, bobo and smoothie, snack type place (that happens to have a few Hmong and Chinese dishes) than a restaurant. There are many types of smoothies and boba drinks: some of the more interesting to me included starfruit, lychee, honey peach, wintermelon, watermelon, sweet melon, and taro. Most are made from powders, but they have a seperate list of those made from fresh fruit. That list included mango, so I couldn't resist getting the mango smoothie even though I knew I was heading to the paleteria next:
it was good, not great, a little too sweet for my taste, but very, very cold: deliciously cold given the hot day (well, it probably wasn't a super hot day by Fresno standards, but I am a fog wimp). I got an 'ice cream headache': probably the first real one I've had in years.
Food offerings included some chinese steam table offerings that looked fairly picked over even though it was still during the noon hour, hot dogs, scrambled eggs and toast, corn dogs, chow mein, fried rice, fried ice cream (!), churros...bbq pork, roast game hen, and one clearly Hmong dish: sausage with sticky rice. No vegetables in evidence, which was a bit of a disappointment. I did see a sign that said 'pickles, 75 cents'. I didn't realize until later than pickled vegetables are also common in Hmong cuisine: I knew I should of asked about those pickles! The only other dishes that could have been Hmong seemed to be the pork, and possibly the egg roll (though they had some in the steam table and they looked like typical steam table egg rolls to me). Melanie, do you know what makes a Hmong eggroll Hmong?
Anyway, back to lunch. I ordered the sticky rice and sausage. A very generous portion of the rice, served with three large links of sausage that the counter person (I think he was the owner) cut into smaller pieces for me, and a firery hot pepper sauce made of fish sauce and various red and yellow hot peppers.
The sausage was very similar to that described by Melanie in the linked post above: ground pork with pieces of cured pork, nicely spiced, not too salty, and lots of heat when dipped in the sauce. Had potential to become addictive. I wasn't crazy about the rice, which tasted like it had been sitting a bit long, but it did help counter the heat and had what I consider a proper level of 'stickiness' (an admittedly very subjective measure: can't describe it but know what I like when I taste it).
A large group came in as I was eating and were told they were out of the hot lunch meals. Apparently I got the last of the sausage...
Cost for the sausage, rice and hot sauce was $3.50. A steal. My entire meal, including the smoothie, was about $6.20 with tax, for lots of food. Not a great meal by any means, but probably the best $6 lunch I've had in quite a while. Wanted to take a picture, promptly discovered the battery needed recharging. arggh..
Bottom line: not much selection, other than of smoothies, but if I lived in Fresno I'd stop in now and then for my sausage and mango smoothie fix. I recommend other hounds check it out, keeping in mind it is more of a snack place than a spot for a huge meal, and that it is open only weekdays and takes cash only. Get there early, and I hope you report back. I'd love to hear from anyone who tries the taro smoothie!
and Thanks again Melanie, for leading the way.
re: Melanie Wong
happy lao new year melanie. i've been having food cravings in the spirit of the occasion, and keep forgetting to follow up about your trips to fresno and your hmong/lao sausage findings. i was wondering if you found a specific, distinct looking sausage when you checked out the fridge and freezer section of the lao and hmong stores?
there's a sausage maker (who is a lao or hmong guy, i forget now) i've been trying to track down who made the best lao sausage (sai oua type) i've had by miles. people speak with reverence about sausage at vientian in oakland, or from the place on east 14th around 3rd/4th - they're good but this guy's sausage made those seem like vienna weenies in comparison (ok maybe a slight exaggeration - but not by much).
last time i found The Sausagemaker's sausage was around fall 2007 in a lao store in sacramento. i wasn't able to find his product in oakland even when sacramento still had them - though the above store owner thinks that some store(s) in richmond might have sold them. the store owner didn't have contact info for him but said he had moved somewhere near fresno after he left sacramento or stockton - i forget which.
i'm curious if you might have seen them when you were down there? they were sold uncooked in the fridge/freezer section. it's the only one i've seen that was maybe 18" long and "home" packed in, i believe, a Ziploc quart-size bag, in a flattened corkscrew/spiral/helix type shape. did you happen to spot anything like this? they were so good!
are you planning to check out any new year events? the 2 temples in sac are winners but not sure if they're doing events this weekend, next, or the following. i think there's gonna be something at civic center in sf this saturday. i'm curious if they're planning to make it white-tourist-friendly or real-deal. i won't be able to check it out since i'll be in sacramento. however if you decide to poke around sacto this weekend feel free to get in touch if you wanna check out some spots.
re: ken ivorous
I've not seen anything in a helical shape, but will certainly keep that in mind. Maybe someone on the ground in Fresno can do a better job of searching for those.
Yes, there are some Lao NY events planned in the Bay Area, here's the link,
On Monday a friend mentioned that she has attended the Lao NY celebration in Stockton in the past. Maybe you have time to head that way from Sacto if there's nothing locally.
I asked about Lao sausage at a newish place in Santa Rosa (report on the SF board to come). They have 'em, but she said that they're too busy to make their own and buy them from a producer in Fresno. She showed me the raw sausage, a long cylinder wrapped in plastic. I liked the two dishes I had there as much as my Lao lunch in Fresno, which is a huge breakthrough.
Thanks for the report and checking out the House of Food, we all appreciate it! As far as Hmong egg rolls go, my understanding is that Hmong egg rolls (kab yob) use mung bean noodles and the main ingredient is usually pork. Some times they steam them, but nowadays they are almost all fried.
From yesterday's Mindhub list posting:
" Starting this week, restaurant patrons will be able to dine on ethnic Hmong foods such as lab, a beef salad tossed with spices, mint, cilantro and green onions, or zaub kib, a simple Asian green vegetable stir fried with crispy pork, while traveling artistically and visually back to Laos through the paintings of Hmong artist Boon Ma Yang."
"Appetizers from the café's menu and the "Long Cheng" bread will be available. Meet the restaurant's young Hmong owners and find out their plans to introduce the community to Hmong cuisine and culture."
A friend and co-worker mentioned their pastry/baked items were very good, LoCheng and a bread with taro.
Hmong Artist Reception
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 31.
Long Cheng Café
4579 E Kings Canyon Rd
Fresno, CA 93702
A few Hmong recipes were also mentioned
Other threads about Hmong in Fresno
Hmong food is very generic, usually just bbq style meat, or boiled meat with some kind of mustard greens. Everything else is asian integrated. Heres a eggroll receipe that my family uses.
All measurements are keen to your taste, there is no measurements in the hmong culture;
thin noodles (the ones that comes in the red net wrap usually a 6 pack)
mix all together and wrap with egg roll rice wrap
when wrapping use either egg whites or water to brush the end of the wrapping paper so that it will stick to itself and not unwrap
deep fry til golden brown.
wrapping is kind of a skill, make sure to wrap tightly to decrease the oil saturation and unwrapping.
Hope this helps you should you decide to try it.