Chef Nikki Tran’s unique take on Viet-Cajun — or Viejun, as she calls it — cuisine has officially arrived in Houston.
The chef just opened Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen, her first Houston restaurant. Known for making appearances on Netfilx’s Ugly Delicious and Somebody Feed Phil, Tran currently operates two restaurants in Vietnam that have earned praise from hordes of diners and major American chefs like David Chang and Houston’s own Chris Shepherd.
The menu for Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen features plenty of Houston favorites, including spicy bun bo hue, pho, and bun thit nuong, a dish of grilled pork kebabs served on a bed of vermicelli. A few different banh mi options will be on offer, including a “United Nations” banh mi made with curried shrimp, shrimp roe, apple kimchi, and cream of arugula. Tran’s take on fried rice — a “five color” fried rice with fish and a seafood version with shrimp and squid are in the works — will likely become one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings.
Scope out a few exciting highlights from the full Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen menu below, and get ready to chow down on banh mi and pho when the restaurant opens on July 31.
- Asparagus apple kimchi with shrimp chips — asparagus, fennel, apple, and shredded carrots in Korean chili powder and fish sauce.
- Chef’s rolls — stir fried beef wrapped in mustard greens and rice vermicelli bundles.
- Happy Salad — pineapple, Thai eggplant, calamondin (a type of citrus), mint, and lemongrass with stir-fried beef and sesame seeds in passionfruit dressing.
- East-West Salad — Julienned Granny Smith apple with dried shrimp, served in sweet and sour salad dressing.
- Six different types of pho will be on offer, all served with beef broth. Filet mignon, oxtail, free-range chicken, red wine-braised beef, and flaming steak are all options. Also on the soup front, Tran will serve her version of bun bo hue, and Quang-style noodles, a dish of turmeric rice noodles, scallops, shrimp, and chicken served in pork broth.
- Bun Thit Nuong — Grilled pork kebabs on a bed of vermicelli with shredded lettuce, cucumber and sweet and sour fish sauce.
- Combination Com Tam — Broken rice, grilled pork chop, sunny side up egg, shredded pork skin, and an egg and minced pork cake
- Seafood Viejun — Shrimp, clams, snow crab in chef’s special garlic and butter sauce with Cajun spices
- Fried Rice — three different types of fried rice are on the menu, including her signature “five-color” fried rice with a rainbow of roe, a seafood version with shrimp and squid, and stir-fried beef fried rice.
Standout Vegetarian Options
- Golden Tofu — Silky tofu that’s fried until golden and topped with sautéed green onions and soy sauce
- Bún Gạo Xào: Dry rice noodles with tofu, mushrooms, peanuts, mint, bean sprout and sweet and sour soy sauce