Vietnamese Restaurant From MasterChef & Houston Crawfish King Now Open

Smoked Beef Flat Rib Noodles and Pork Belly Bao at Xin Chao

Xin Chao, the long-awaited collaboration between Christine Ha of The Blind Goat and Tony Nguyen from Saigon House, is now in its soft-opening phase.

Located at 2310 Decatur, the former home of the original Beaver’s and Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory, the new Vietnamese restaurant is the duo’s first joint venture. Ha won season three of MasterChef, is a New York Times-bestselling cookbook author and also operates The Blind Goat stand inside of Bravery Chef Hall in downtown Houston while also actively avoiding the coronavirus. There she serves modern Vietnamese dishes such as her signature G.O.A.T Curry and Dry Chicken Ph.

After gaining a fan following for his Viet-Cajun crawfish and other dishes at the original midtown location of Saigon House, Nguyen relocated it to 3645 Cypress Creek in north Houston. He’s also a restaurant consultant and competed on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay.

Xin Chao has been in the works for a while, with renovations beginning in mid-January. The group redesigned the interior and added a black-and-white mural by Houston-based artist Caroline Troung that features Hokusai-inspired ocean waves and lotus flowers. New wood flooring was also added, giving the space a fresh new look. The outside showcases a spacious patio with plenty of tables, making it easier for those not yet comfortable dining in enclosed spaces. 

The main dishes are designed with sharing in mind and come in large portions. One standout is the Smoked Beef Rib Flat Noodles, featuring a massive, fall-off-the-bone beef rib resting on a nest of pan-fried rice noodles laced with mushrooms and Chinese broccoli. The dish is a culmination of Nguyen’s journey mastering the smoker and the beef rib.

Nguyen-er Nguyen-er Chicken Dinner! at Xin Chao. Photo by Ryan Baker.

Nguyen-er Nguyen-er Chicken Dinner! features a half or whole chicken bathed in refreshing lemongrass buttermilk and pandan rice batter. The chicken is deep fried to create a crackling crust that could easily be a snack on its own. The aromatic, herb-infused fried chicken is served with a daily side, pickles and beef tallow aioli.

Not Our Ma’s Eggrolls at Xin Chao. Photo by Ryan Baker.

The Vietnamese gastropub menu is rounded out with several appetizers, such as Pork Belly Bao — featuring a fried bun and 24-hour braised pork belly — and Not Our Ma’s Eggroll, which combines elements from each chef’s signature version of this popular dish.

Xin Chao’s Motorbike Sidecar cocktail with Pierre Ferrand cognac, green tea and lemon. Photo by Ryan Baker.

The selection of spirits displayed behind the bar is a little sparse. That being said, the restaurant’s bar still has a solid selection of classic cocktails, each modified with inspired additions of Asian ingredients, such as the Lemongrass Mojito and Tamarind Old Fashioned.

For the time being, Xin Chao is open Sunday, Monday and Thursday from 5  to 10 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the hours are extended until 11 p.m.

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