Dave here. I know you're all jonesin' to know the answer to the question, "Where the heck am I gonna' find great Viet Namese food in Houston, of all places?"
I have the answer. Mai's Restaurant, between the Montrose and downtown Houston, TX. Here's what I mean.
For more than 20 years I scoured Houston's concrete landscape for "the best of the best"; bars, restaurants, places to rollerskate, things like that. I skated with the Urban Animals for a few years there, and this took us right through Houston's "Little Viet Nam", right past Mai's Restaurant http://www.maisrestauranttx.com . The food there was AMAZING. Viet Namese Coffee, Spring and Summer Rolls, Hot and Sour Soup, Bun Quon Chua Lua (you just have to try it); things I'd never heard of before, all delicious and served by the warmest folks.
Mai's Restaurant is located at the intersection of Milam St. and Francis St., south of downtown Houston. Back then, there were only 14 tables in the whole restaurant, mostly filled by very local diners, many of whom spoke little or no english. Frankly, most of the staff didn't speak english, either. Mai did, though, and she was more than happy to make recommendations from her 220 item menu. She ALWAYS steered me right.
Well, the years passed and Mai doubled her floorspace . I even traveled to Amsterdam and met another restaurant owner who knew her!
A few more years passed before I returned to Mai's Restaurant http://www.maisrestauranttx.com , this time with my grown children. Not only was the food as delicious as I remembered, but Mai and several of her employees still remembered me! They even remembered what my favorite dishes were!
So there it is. Mai's Restaurant in Houston, Texas. Intersection of Milam and Francis streets. Equidistant from both the University of St. Thomas http://www.stthom.edu and Rice University http://www.rice.edu . Great food, great people.
Love you, Mai!