Nha Hang Tay Do

The Hong Kong Market IV complex in Bellaire is always busy. At least during the days I go there. And I’ve been there an awful lot of times. No matter what time it is, the closest parking spot we could get was about 20 rows away from the door. Makes me wonder whose cars those 20 rows are, cannot be just the market’s employees’, can it? On the other hand, across from the artificial minipond and fountain, Tay Do restaurant looks so quiet we didn’t know if it was opened. This is lunch hour, guys. The place is clearly so packed we had to wait to be seated. The only visible person in charge was talking on the phone and to a waitress behind the kitchen counter, and only spotted our unexpected visit after 10 minutes. Feeling welcome? Except for the wait, we got more attention from the waiters the rest of our visit. Of course, the service here is about as indifferent as many other Vietnamese eateries, but at least we got our water, our food, and our bill in […]

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Banh mi ba chi pate

Lee’s sandwiches has different kinds of banh mi on their menu, and although I’m a stingy about chances to try out varieties (after finding out my favorite, of course), my mom often surprises me by how open-minded she is on a few things. For example, despite my usual fondness of banh mi thit nuong, this time she got me an extra: banh mi ba chi pate, the new and only item on Lee’s menu that has pate in it. I’m not sure if I would even have seen that on the menu myself. “Ba chỉ” literally means “three threads,” which I loosely understand as three layers, because there’s one really thin layer of skin, then there’s fat and meat. That’s right, sometimes words reflect great imagination of whoever made up the word originally. Just to confuse you, this type of meat is also called “ba rọi” in the south, and I have no clue what a “rọi” is, maybe a mispronunciation of “loại” – “type”? I digress. The meat is so thinly sliced that skin and fat can almost go unnoticed in your mouth. My gut instinct (well… not quite, just […]

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Eat banh it

It’s a very simple name: banh it (it literally means “few” or “a little”, banh in Vietnamese is a term used for anything made of any kind of flour, in any shape and size, cooked in any way imaginable, so “cake,” “pastry”, “pie,” “bread,” and similar terms are not equivalent translations, in fact I’m still looking for a correct corresponding term). I digress. This banh it we got from Gio Cha Duc Huong (Bellaire Blvd, Houston) has a pyramid shape, similar to the ones I’d had in Saigon. Once again I don’t know how the banh maker can shape these things up in banana leaves, and an American bonus, cling wrap. They’re certainly not ancient world’s wonder, but they’re quite resilient, at least against my attempt to dissect and take a picture of the interior. It is as simple as a child’s treat can be. A clump of mung bean paste concealed by a layer of sticky rice flour. I believe brown sugar is added to the dough to make the color. (Update: indeed there is sugar, but I’m pretty sure there is no la gai in this […]

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