The most delicate is the most tempting

    My roommate is eating dinner, I haven’t had anything since 9am, and I’ve vowed to stay on this chair until I get a plot to show my advisor, so I can’t grab anything to eat yet (except the cookies within reach). The best solution to satisfy the saddened tummy is to blog about food. Above is a bottle of nuoc mam pha, and a jar of chilly sauce if you’re in the mood for crying.

    We come here frequently when I’m in Houston. It’s Banh Cuon Tay Ho #18, belonging to the franchise Banh Cuon Tay Ho (but apparently not on the website, which is good, because the website, oddly enough, is quite Chinese influenced, when banh cuon is as Vietnamese as it can get). I’ve blogged about this chain before, in San Jose, but the restaurant in Houston is quite different. It’s a lot more spacious (you don’t have to worry about accidentally flicking your chopstick, or worse, nuoc mam, over to the other table). In all fairness, it’s Texas. You can’t blame California for being mostly inhabitable. It’s also a lot less Vietnamese-looking, minus the fact that the staff and all customers are Vietnamese. Nicer tables, less noisy, doesn’t have the smell of food, doesn’t have a TV with some beauty contest going on. Anyway, just go to the one in San Jose, then come here, then you’ll like it here better.

    Asians like fish, don’t they? I never understand why…

    Most of the time I get the to-go box. It’s just more comfortable slurping at home. The plastic box may look flimsy, but I admire it for not spilling out anything during the long drive (with various sudden hitting-the-brake instants).

    Three pieces of shrimp tempura, a lone deep-fried shrimp (recall there was no such thing at the San Jose place), a small cup of nuoc mam pha, a bag of quick-boiled bean sprouts and greens whose names I have no clue, slices of cha lua (the ones with yellow curd are cha chien, or fried cha lua). Digging through the jungle, and the heart of goodness is…

    …5 rolls of banh cuon. Five! Who can be full after 5 rolls of steamed carbon paper thin rice flour sheet gently stuffed with ground pork and finely chopped wood-ear mushroom? Each was just a little longer than my index finger. They’d make nice body pillows for a mouse. I dipped the rolls into the nuoc mam and they went down too quickly. Perhaps 10 rolls would have sufficed. (That’s why it’s breakfast food in Vietnam.) But making these flimsy pieces of woot requires a bit of skill. With a little less than $6 (cash only), it is a much healthier, more customer-cared meal than a burger or the bully version of a roll, a burrito. The wait was also fairly quick.

    Address: Banh Cuon Tay Ho #18 (inside Hong Kong Mall, near Ocean Palace)
    11209 Bellaire Blvd
    Houston, TX 77072

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    5 comments to The most delicate is the most tempting

    • Anonymous

      Well,I don’t think only Asians like fish.My Spanish colleague is obsessed with fishkeeping. Me too!! :D.
      Every morning, we always ask “how is your fish tank? ” instead of “how are you?” 😀

    • Anonymous

      By the way, those red parrot cichlids look nice 😀

    • Jack Wang

      “It’s just more comfortable slurping at home.”

      I sure bet it is.

    • Vivian Luu

      Mai, we happen to fall upon your blog whiling looking through some photos online. Our family owns the banh cuon tay ho #18 in the HK market. If you are current still in houston we would love to meet you and offer you a free meal for saying such wonderful things about our business. Please find me on facebook and we will get in touch. My name is Vivian Luu and my email if

    • Mai

      I’m glad you like my post. I’m in Berkeley right now, but my family lives in Houston and I go home about twice a year, so I would love to meet you and your family, and perhaps you could tell me a little more about the business. 🙂

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