I've set out, for my next project, to explore Houston in search of the perfect chā giô. A lot of places have moved over to offering these with the lumpia/spring roll type wrapper that is wheat based. But I am looking for a traditional one with a clear rice paper wrapper.
Making these perfectly requires skill and finesse, as frying rice paper can result in a burned and/or greasy result. The rice paper is dry and is reconstituted with a water and sugar bath. The sugar helps with the browning and helps create a bubbly surface texture. Chewiness and crunchiness.
This version of spring rolls made by wrapping filling in clear rice paper wrappers (bánh tráng) and then frying them. The filling usually consists of ground pork, vegetables, wood ear mushrooms, and glass noodles. They’re often served with lettuce and herbs, for wrapping, and, with nuoc cham as a dipping sauce.
I went to the Facebook group, Chowdown in Chinatown - Houston, for recommendations. I'll be publishing that list at a future date.
At the same time, my friend Michael Shum messaged me "I know a place". And honestly, his recommendation for Phat Ky, well, I can probably stop my search now. But I won't.
On my own, I've visited Thien An and Kim Son, both in the downtown area. Both were good...perfectly acceptable.
I'm looking for "spectacular".
Next day saw me at Phat Ky with Michael and friends. We enjoyed an excellent catfish clay pot, mango and shrimp salad, and the chā giô. Enough to order a second serving. Just great. Here are some pictures.