REPORT! - Thien Anh in Houston
I went to the Thein Anh in Houston a couple of times this week, and wanted to give a quick report. This place is the pho house next door to Pho Dung in the Hong Kong supermarket mall near Wilcrest and Bellaire.
These are the BEST Vietnameese sandwiches I've had anywhere in the city. The buns are toasted fresh in front of you, the meat is VERY tasty (we had the barbeque and chicken sandwiches), and all the ingredients were very fresh. The pho was very good, about the same as Pho Dung next door. The spring rolls were excellent and had a LOT of pork along with the shrimp. My son enjoyed his combination fried rice, as did mom and I. It was much more flavorful than average, and more fluffy and lighter, as compared to a typical chinese preparation.
Overall, this was a very good place, and the sandwiches were OUTSTANDING. This combined with the friendly, english speaking staff makes this my first choice for pho and sandwich in the Hong Kong mall.
(This review is co-credited to my wife, Kelli!)
I'm happy for you that you have also discovered the pleasures of Thien Anh! One of the striking things about Thien Anh is how a lot of middle Aged men seem to make it a clubhouse of sorts for them... they sit there chatting in Vietnamese while drinking copious amounts of Vietnamese coffee (which really is Southeast Asian-style coffee: we all drink strong coffee with condensed milk there!).
I love the sandwiches as well as the pho. And as you said, the friendly English-speaking staff are great: you can always ask them for a recommendation, which is invariably good.
Last night my friend Alex had something different for a change: he had a duck dish (can't remember the name), which is essentially cold duck meats on top of a salad melange of sorts. We were later told that this is usually an accompaniment to alcohol (which explains why the waitress gave my friend a weird look and repeatedly asked him "Are you sure?" when he placed the order). I personally liked it a lot, and it's worth a try just for the sake of interest.
All bets are off. The place changed hands last week. Pho was ok, but a little too sweet for my liking.
I am sure that the new staff has some bugs to work out and it may get better in the future. I wonder where the old crew has gone. It was a family operation.
There's also a Thien Anh on Travis just north of Westheimer on the East side of the street. Terrific goi vit aka duck salad. Great big crepes.