Thursday, February 08, 2007

The death of Vietnamtown?

A reliable source says that the 2800 Milam shopping center in the middle of Houston's Vietnamtown is about to be demolished. Apparently, the owner plans to replace it with more Midtown apartments.

Here is some of what we will lose:

Le Bec Fin -- My favorite French cafe in Houston, and one of the best lunch places near downtown. (See my December 20, 2005 post.)

The Original Givrals -- Sandwich shop that makes the best, and cheapest, Banh Mi sandwiches in Midtown. (See my February 4, 2006 post).

Pho Tau Bay -- A good Pho shop.

Hoa Binh Supermarket -- A wonderfull little Vietnamese market.

The New Midtown of box apartments and young professionals is forcing out the old Vietnamtown. In 20 years, few people will remember why the street signs in this part of town are printed in Vietnamese.

I hate to see this wonderful bit of character and diversity leave the area near downtown. But at least it is moving elsewhere. The Vietnamese community and restaurants are thriving in Little Saigon - area officially bounded by the Bissonet, Gessner, the Westpark tollway, and Highway 6. I hear that Le Bec Fin will relocate to northwest Houston off of Antoine. And Pho Tau Bay already has another location off of Veterans Memorial.

If you work downtown, the next week may be your last chance to get a wonderful French lunch at Le Bec Fin or a Banh Mi sandwich at the Original Givrals.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. I now live in Charleston, SC with my husband. He went to law school in Houston and unfortunately we had to move approximately 12 years ago. We left my family in Houston along with so many friends. We come back yearly and eat in this section of town. There is no better food than Chinatown and Vietnamtown in Houston. We are returning in March to visit family and friends and will be eating our favorite foods again.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the housing market kind of saturated already? Surely all these places they have built already aren't filled to capacity? Curses to evil developers! #$!@*%

jokah said...

I introduced a buddy of mine to banh mi at the original Givral several weeks ago. The mall looked like a ghosttown. They had a sign that said they were moving in March to another location near UH downtown (Congress if I remember correctly?). Anyways, had lunch with him again last week, and he mentioned that it has already closed down.

timhoustontx said...

Is "the original Givral" the one inside the Hoa Binh shopping center? If so, the owners of that one took over the nearby Cali Sandwich shop. But I think it only has minimal similarities. The one left inside the mall had a different name now.

Even though a lot of the older familiar stuff is gone from mid-town, we still have
Cali Sandwich, Les Givral (not the original?), Pho Sai Gon, Van Loc, Mai's, a few scattered shops, a tofu place, ... it's not all gone, but certainly it doesn't compare with Bellaire which is growing at a dizzying pace.