Vietnamese Restaurant in Houston With National Recognition is Closing

Tony Nguyen and Christine Ha at a function for the James Beard Foundation.

Xin Chào, the modern Vietnamese American restaurant founded by chefs Christine Hà and Tony J. Nguyen at 2310 Decatur in Sixth Ward, has announced on social media that its last day of service will be Saturday, June 8. This unfortunate news comes just two months after Nguyen announced the closure of his only other restaurant, Saigon House 1960. The message on Xin Chào’s Facebook and Instagram states, “Our last day of service [is] this week. Crawfish season is coming to an end and we want to thank everyone for supporting us throughout this journey.” Xin Chào’s final days are Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., depending on how long supplies last. 

Hà, who is a MasterChef season three winner, New York Times best-selling cookbook author, and, along with Nguyen, was named a James Beard Award Outstanding Chef finalist in 2022 and semifinalist in 2023, stepped away from Xin Chào in 2023, saying it was to focus on opening The Blind Goat and Stuffed Belly in Spring Branch. That left Nguyen with sole ownership. Since her departure, Nguyen has been incorporating more of his signature Viet-Cajun style into the menu, including bringing over his spicy boiled crawfish tossed in sinus-clearing H-Town Bang Sauce after closing Saigon House 1960. Popular dishes that Ha and Nguyen collaboratively added to Xin Chào’s menu include Smoked Beef Rib Phở, Nguyen-er Nguyen-er Chicken Dinner and Texas BBQ Fried Rice

The Nguyen-er Nguyen-er Chicken Dinner at Xin Chao
The Nguyen-er Nguyen-er Chicken Dinner at Xin Chao. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Nguyen told writer Ryan Kasey Baker that Xin Chào has struggled to stay afloat after a series of issues, including power outages and damage from the recent bout of severe storms, a scant crawfish season and many of the same economic issues currently affecting restaurants across the nation, such as increased food costs. The nail in the coffin, though, seems to be the recent storms and resulting power outages and damages. “We didn’t have power for six days after the tornado — and then power was knocked out a few more days,” Nguyen told Baker. “The A/C and hood vents were destroyed as well as a few fridges. And with the coming summer months, business will be slower for us and it was all going to put us in a big financial hole.”

H-Town Bang Crawfish at Saigon House.
H-Town Bang Crawfish at Saigon House. Photo by Ryan Baker.

With his final eatery closing, Nguyen plans to stay out of the restaurant business for a while — but not the food business. His top priority is producing the addictive H-Town Bang Sauce on a commercial level and making it available for purchase. He also wants to produce some instructional cooking content and posting it on social media. “With the uptake of home cooks and bartenders after COVID, there is a chance to help people improve,” he said. Before that, though, he’s looking forward to simply getting some downtime. “I’ve been going full-throttle since I came to Houston from NYC,” he said. “I’m taking some time off.” 

Considering the challenges facing local restaurants, now is the time to get out there, support your favorites and appreciate just how good we have it in Houston when it comes to food. Let’s not take it for granted. 

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