“ When I first moved to Houston about 30 years ago, the shopping strip at Wilcrest and Beechnut hosted two Vietnamese cuisine pioneers of the city, Kim Son and Que Huong. I become a regular at Que Huong since they opened in 1995. As a poor student because their Com Tam Combo Platter could easily provide a full and satisfying meal for just a few dollars. At one time, my wife’s family went there almost weekly for a gathering, sitting at the big round table on a raised platform at the back of the restaurant that might have doubled as a performance stage. Our visit becomes less frequent when they relocated to Hong Kong City Mall, but we have never stopped going until they closed their business.
A few years ago, Que Huong rose from the ashes at a smaller spot and become today’s Que Huong Bistro. We like to go there for a fix of Com Tam and Banh Xeo. I saw a friend, Lex Nguyen, posted a mouth-watering spread from his family dinner recently, featuring one of my most favorite Vietnamese dishes of all time, which prompted us to visit this evening.
We ordered Goi Cuon for an appetizer. Although it's already premade and served cold, my adoration for the restaurant easily gets them a pass. The Hoisin Peanut sauce, which is a crucial dipping sauce for this popular Spring Roll reconciled this minor infraction.
The plat de resistance is my beloved Ca Kho To, or as I call it, Crack In A Pot. Pieces of bone-in Catfish steaks marinated in Fish Sauce, Garlic, and Shallots, first caramelized in the pot, then slowly braised in Coconut Water and its own marinade, resulting in a sticky sweet and savory sauce that makes me wolfed down bowls of Steamed White Rice like it's out of style. But wait, there's more... the Catfish Steaks are topped with tiny pieces of rendered Pork Fats, they are like tiny umami flavor bombs that pleasure my mouth.
Since it's a chilly evening, we got the Canh Chua with Shrimp instead. The Sweet and Sour Vietnamese Soup truly pairs perfectly with the Caramelized Braised Catfish. The soup contains an ample amount of veggies like Bean Sprouts, Okras, Pineapples, Tomatoes, Taro Stems, topped with a variety of aromatic chopped Herbs.
With dishes like this, there's no chance that I don't overeat. Even with my stomach happily filled, there are enough left over for a lighter meal, all these for an exceptional value. The lady who served us was so nice that she made special accommodations to our order as we asked for less Chili for the Ca Kho To and less Sweetness for the Canh Cua.
The name Que Huong always has a special place in my heart. Before we left, I made sure to greet and thank the owner, the same kind-looking uncle, for serving excellent traditional Vietnamese comfort food for the past 27 years that I've been a satisfied customer.