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b-10: 2nd Generation Houston Vietnamese

The Vietnamese steak and eggs at b-10 are a new take on the classic bo luc lac, the Vietnamese dish better known as “rock n’ roll beef.” At b-10, they use high quality filet mignon marinated with lemongrass instead of the authentic chewy cuts served in Vietnam. The steak and egg combination is an American coffee shop breakfast favorite and the sizzling comal is borrowed from Tex-Mex. I puzzled at the plastic cup half full of pate and half full of mayo. “Stir the pate up with the aioli and spread it on your baguette, that’s what the kids do,” my tablemate Thuy Tran instructed. It was excellent advice.

Thuy Tran and her mom Thu Ho filled me on the complicated saga of their Vietnamese restaurant. b-10 Vietnamese Cafe was called Givral when the banh mi and pho restaurant on Bellaire was first opened in 1988 by a Vietnamese man named Hoang. The most popular order there has long been b-10, the barbecued pork banh mi sandwich. Recently, the restaurant changed its name from Givral to b-10 Vietnamese Cafe and opened a satellite sandwich shop at Westheimer and Hillcroft. The name change ended the confusion among the three Houston Vietnamese restaurants named Givral–the other two are Givral on Milam and Les Givrales Kahve on Washington.

The namesake of the Houston restaurants was the original Le Givral Cafe which was located at the corner of Dong Khoi and Le Loi streets in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. For over 60 years, the historic Le Givral Cafe was the favorite meeting spot for travelers and Saigon-watchers. It closed in April of 2010 when the owners of the building decided to demolish the center for new construction.
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TXChef5: Mutt City Cuisine: Chris Shepherd

Seared White Gulf Shrimp and Pimento Cheese Grits

It’s hard to figure out where Texas cooking is headed right now. There are a lot of different trends going on and they have little to do with each other. In fact, sometimes it seems like the chefs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin arrived here from different planets. In this series, I’ll check out food from some hot Texas chefs and look for clues about the big picture.

Chris Shepherd's pulled chicken salad with nuoc cham

Chris Shepherd’s menu at Underbelly is a cultural mash-up: there’s Germanic “Pork Schnitzel and Caraway Braised Red Cabbage,” Southern “Gulf Shrimp and Pimento Grits” a Nawlins via Tokyo “Waygu Beef Debris Po’ Boy,” East Texas “Biscuits and Gravy” served in a black cast iron skillet, and spicy “Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings,” to name a few. Toppings include Creme Fraiche, Buttermilk Dressing, Aioli and Japanese Kewpie Mayo. The top of the menu at Underbelly reads in part: “We hope you will enjoy Chris Shepherd’s refined take on Houston’s New American Creole Cuisine.”

So what exactly is this New Creole Cuisine?
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The 2012 Election

Click here to vote for your favorite Houston chefs, restaurants, bartenders and food blogs in the 2012 My Table Houston Culinary Awards.

TXChefs4: Haute Heritage: Tim Byres

Chicken Scratch tenders

It’s hard to figure out where Texas cooking is headed right now. There are a lot of different trends going on and they have little to do with each other. In fact, sometimes it seems like the chefs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin arrived here from different planets. In this series, I’ll check out food from some hot Texas chefs and look for clues about the big picture.

At his Dallas restaurant, Smoke, Tim Byres weds Texas barbecue with fine dining. The kitchen at Smoke is dominated by the enormous A.N. Bewley wood-burning pit and there is always something cooking inside it. The dinner menu features:

“Pulled All Natural Whole Hog, NC Style with Blue Cheese Slaw; Texas BBQ Coffee Cured Beef Brisket with Bread/Butter Pickles & Mustard Seed Potato Salad; Dry Rubbed Pork Spare Ribs with Mac n Cheese & Pickled Green Beans; and Smoked Berkshire Pork Chop with Apricot Preserve, Potato Dumplings, Wilted Greens & Unfiltered Green Olive Oil.

On the side, there’s housemade pickles, and an assortment of sophisticated barbecue sauces.

An appetizer of three kinds of housemade smoked sausage includes a stunning rabbit sausage. By adding blue cheese to the cole slaw and making wilted greens with expensive olive oil, Byres transforms heritage recipes into fine dining with a single wave of the magic whisk.

Tim Byres at Chicken Scratch


read more TXChefs4: Haute Heritage: Tim Byres »

TXChefs3: Trashfish Creole: Bryan Caswell and Felipe Riccio

It’s hard to figure out where Texas cooking is headed right now. There are a lot of different trends going on and they have little to do with each other. In fact, sometimes it seems like the chefs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin arrived here from different planets. In this series, I’ll check out food from some hot Texas chefs and look for clues about the big picture.

Felipe Riccio’s “Rainbow Runner-Mayhaw Ceviche” appetizer at Reef in Houston, is a marvel. It combines two unique ingredients in a sensational dish that neatly sums up the restaurant’s philosophy.

read more TXChefs3: Trashfish Creole: Bryan Caswell and Felipe Riccio »

TexChefs2: Rootsy Radical: Matt McCallister

It’s hard to figure out where Texas cooking is headed right now. There are a lot of different trends going on and they have little to do with each other. In fact, sometimes it seems like the chefs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin arrived here from different planets. In this series, I’ll check out food from some hot Texas chefs and look for clues about the big picture.

Chef Matt McAllister


Chef Matt McCallister served lunch at Springdale Farm in Austin during the Foodways Texas Symposium last month. It was the first time I got a chance to sample the Dallas wunderkind’s cuisine. The salad was made from vegetables and flowers picked minutes ago from plants growing in the urban farm where we were seated. “Roots, leaves, stems, soil,” read the menu description.

I watched as the salads were assembled by McCallister and his volunteer assistants. You sure can’t call this tweezer food–the chef encouraged his helpers not to waste time arranging things, but rather to put the ingredients randomly around the plate. Carrots, kohlrabi and beets were the roots, the leaves included dinosaur kale, chard and lettuce, dill and other herbs were the stems. The soil was an amazing blend of brown powders including sumac (a Middle Eastern ingredient sometimes used in zaatar), cocoa powder, nuts and spices. Olive oil powder was sprinkled here and there among the vegetables–it turned slippery when you reconstituted it in your mouth.

read more TexChefs2: Rootsy Radical: Matt McCallister »

TexChefs1: Molecular Cowboys: Stephan Pyles and David Gilbert

It’s hard to figure out where Texas cooking is headed right now. There are a lot of different trends going on and they have little to do with each other. In fact, sometimes it seems like the chefs in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin arrived here from different planets. In this series, I’ll check out food from some hot Texas chefs and look for clues about the big picture.

Arctic Char with Bananas and Apple Slice

The title on the menu at the new restaurant in the Elian Hotel in the Hill Country outside of San Antonio reads: “Sustenio, Modern Southwestern Cuisine by Stephan Pyles.” The test tube full of melon puree had a capsule inside that exploded in my mouth as I drank it–it was melon juice. The flavor reminded me it would soon be time for Pecos cantaloupes. The crispy-skinned arctic char with creamy rutabaga puree, freeze-dried banana chunks and a glazed apple slice with a perfect star in the middle was wonderful. Though it brought to mind the question that restaurant critics and chefs in Texas used to grapple with: “What makes this dish ‘Southwestern?'”

read more TexChefs1: Molecular Cowboys: Stephan Pyles and David Gilbert »

Irene Wong Shoots El Real

Food TV would be a cool thing to do. Mess around in the kitchen–take a few videos. Eat good. What could be better?

Meet food TV mega-producer Irene Wong. After Irene Wong produced half a dozen hits for the Food Network, she went independent and started her own production company, IW Productions. These days, she spends nine months a year on the road shooting 6 days a week for a grueling 12 hours a day.

Irene and her crew came to El Real Tex-Mex on Saturday to shoot a segment for Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel. Irene and company got there at 4 AM! That’s one hour after we close on Friday night. Chef Bryan Caswell and I were asked to arrive at the leisurely hour of 6 AM. Irene’s gang had already lit the entire kitchen and were testing equipment when we got there. They had Caswell wired up with a microphone before he got a cup of coffee in his mouth.

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We Got Hacked!

The RobbWalsh.com “Texas Eats” website was down for more than a week due to technical difficulties. If you tried to find us while were out of commission, we apologize.

It seems our server got raided by interweb evil doers. We ended up with the  “WordPress Pharma Hack.” Every time we tried to send […]

Denis Wilson Reborn as Chickenman

Seafood chef Denis Wilson, the name behind Denis’ Seafood and the late Jimmy Wilson’s Seafood and Chop House, is back in business in a North Houston fast casual restaurant called Louisiana Homestyle Kitchen. Only this time, instead of seafood, he is specializing in free range chicken.

The menu is a veritable Bubba Gump litany […]