Monday, January 25, 2010

Winning at Huynh

I love taking people to Huynh because I know they will love it. Up until last summer when they moved into their new space, I didn’t know about what many say is Houston’s best Vietnamese restaurant and I couldn’t wait to generate another certified fan.

There is so much to love about Huynh. Super-fresh, gorgeously presented cared-about cuisine and probably the best bargain meal in town (especially considering the quality). The room feels contemporary yet also warm and inviting. People are happy eating here and people are happy to see you enjoy your food.

We began with the Duck Salad ($8.50) and “Crushed Shrimp Wrapped in Rice Paper” ($2.95). The duck salad combined crunchy shredded vegetables and herbs topped with a not-too-sweet and just tangy enough ginger dressing (added at the table) along with the strips of lean duck. Lovely; light; satisfying. We also loved the rice paper/shrimp appetizer. The house made rice paper is so different than the rice paper we are used to. It is thicker, smooth (not sticky) and just melts in your mouth. The “dried” shrimp add texture and flavor along with another pungent sauce served tableside – a fantastic combination.

We then moved onto a Vermicelli dish ($6.95) with char-grilled shrimp. The noodles were prepared just right – not overcooked and not at all sticky. Beautiful, well-prepared shrimp sat on top along with another strong-flavored vinegary sauce on the side (thank goodness they tell you which sauce goes with what!). It was a large portion and we realized we probably didn’t need the 2nd entrée, a Rice Plate with a char-grilled pork chop and sauce ($7.50). The short-grain rice was delicious by itself along with a pleasant assortment of vegetables while the pork chop on top had great smoky flavor, a nice char and very tender.

The owner came by our table to make sure we were happy and that we understood our sauces while she told us about how her mother comes early in the morning to prepare everything fresh. She’s clearly proud of her family’s restaurant and it’s just a lovely experience to dine here. As a bonus, the restaurant is BYOB so come with your wine and your friends … and enjoy some of the best Houston has to offer.

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