Chain means reliability. Berkeley’s snobbish take against big franchise and corporations plays to my blogging advantage, but there always lies the uncertainty. It could be a very good looking, cozy little restaurant with quaint menus, and mediocre food. They could have a long line of people waiting in the cold to be seated, and mediocre food. Somehow people sitting about you are all hyped up by the new raw or vegan order, but you just can’t enjoy yours because it’s mediocre food. When a business is the only of its name, there’s just no guarantee that it’s palatable to everyone, no matter how many stars it gets on Yelp or votes by the locals. Franchise takes care of that. I don’t know how. But I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t objectively like Burger King, Subway, Yogurt Land, KFC, et cetera (I say “objectively” because taste buds can be clouded by health conscience, religious reasons and who knows what). Some Vietnamese businesses, though still in much smaller scale, have also established their chain names. For banh mi, we almost always go to Lee’s Sandwiches or Huong Lan. For cha lua, we trust Gio Cha Duc Huong. When we’re in Houston, we go to Phở Danh to slurp noodle soups.
All three locations in Houston have the same silvery ambiance: white walls, glass door, formica tables, simple chairs, bright lights, white melamine dishware. We always get the same things here: pho bo tai for Dad, pho bo chin for Mom and me.
Mom always asks for extra giá trụng, blanched bean sprouts. And Dad always asks for hành dấm, pickled onion. Both are free.
He never asks for hành dấm anywhere else, making me wonder if it’s some special thing of Pho Danh. Vinegar and sugar soften the onion’s pungent flares, but keep it crisp and clean. I submerge it into the steaming broth. Dad savors it alone, one ring at a time.
3 locations in Houston:
– 11209 Bellaire Blvd – (281) 879-9940
– 13480 Veterans Memorial Drive – (832) 484-9449
– 11049 FM 1960 Rd – (281) 890-4011
1 location in Austin:
– 11220 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX – (512) 837-7800