Xin Chao!

Star Chefs Partnering on Vietnamese Restaurant

Christine Hà and Tony Nguyen hope to open Xin Chao in May.

By Timothy Malcolm February 20, 2020

Lemongrass snails from Xin Chao.

Image: John Suh

If you like Christine Hà's The Blind Goat at Bravery Chef Hall, and if you like Tony Nguyen's Saigon House, get ready for Xin Chao.

Hà, the MasterChef season three champion, chef Nguyen, and partner John Suh will be opening Xin Chao at 2310 Decatur St., the former Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory and Original Beaver's. They've signed the lease, are projecting a May opening, and are crowdfunding for a maximum $107,000 through the NextSeed platform—you can check out their pitch here.

Xin Chao, which means "hello," "goodbye," and "welcome" in Vietnamese, will give Hà and Nguyen an opportunity to further put their creative spin on what they're called the "perception of traditional Vietnamese cuisine."

"This is our take on it and we're gonna add Texan cooking methods like smoking and grazing into Vietnamese flavors," says Nguyen in a video on NextSeed.

According to the pair's description of the restaurant, fare will ultimately be presented for dinner, weekend brunch, and late-night dining in more of a Japanese izakaya style where small and large plates can be shared and paired with beer, wine, and cocktails. Look for dishes like smoked brisket pho, coconut Manila clams, and lemongrass snails. 

Coconut Manila clams from Xin Chao.

Image: John Suh

The space is well known in town, and at 2,500 square feet with a patio, there's plenty that can go into it. The team promises soft lighting, mood music, and a welcoming atmosphere, and they're raising money in part to fund new furniture and a future wok station. 

Hà has won numerous plaudits for her well-executed Vietnamese cuisine at Bravery Chef Hall, and she's not the first of Bravery's chefs to branch out with a standalone: Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee of Kokoro recently opened Handies Douzo in the Heights. As for Nguyen, he recently shut down Saigon House in Midtown, known for its Viet-Cajun cuisine, but is putting the finishing touches on a location at 3645 FM 1960 in Northwest Houston.

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