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Christine Ha’s New Vietnamese Restaurant, Xin Chao, Is Now Open

The Masterchef winner’s first standalone restaurant is a partnership with Saigon House’s Tony J. Nguyen

a plate of smoked beef ribs next to a cocktail garnished with a purple orchid
Smoked beef rib flat rice noodles at Xin Chao.
Xin Chao/Facebook

Xin Chao, the hotly-anticipated, new restaurant from Masterchef winner and Houstonian Christine Ha, is now open near the Washington Corridor.

Ha has teamed up with Tony J. Nugyen — chef at the beloved Saigon House, known for spicy “H-town Bang” crawfish and brisket pho — to open the restaurant in the former Beaver’s digs at 2310 Decatur. The restaurant opened quietly last week.

Ha started gaining accolades in Houston and beyond in 2012, after winning first place in season three of the Fox cooking show Masterchef. In 2018, she opened her first restaurant, The Blind Goat, inside Bravery Chef Hall in Downtown.

Ha’s partner Nguyen first opened Saigon House in Midtown, gaining fame for Viet-Cajun staples like saucy, spicy crawfish and SLAB Ricer, a dish of shrimp, fried rice and sausage. Saigon House moved outside the Beltway earlier this year, and more recently, Nguyen was operating a food truck parked outside the former Beaver’s.

Xin Chao marks Ha’s first standalone restaurant, and a chance for her to spread her wings beyond the nhau cuisine, which is meant to be eaten while drinking, that makes up most of the menu at The Blind Goat. At her new spot, Ha will serve up contemporary Vietnamese cuisine inspired by recipes passed down from both her family and Nguyen’s, with locally-sourced Gulf Coast ingredients. (Both chefs are second-generation Vietnamese-Americans.) The menu currently includes dishes like scallop crudo with Vietnamese herbs, spring rolls inspired by a combination of both chef’s mother’s recipes, and shareables like lemongrass buttermilk fried chicken.

In addition, the restaurant features cocktails, created by local cocktail consultant Linda Salinas and general manager Christopher Nguyen, meant to pair perfectly with Xin Chao’s cuisine. Drinks include the Dragon Highball Z, with Suntory Toki Japanese whiskey, Topo Chico, ginger, and grapefruit; and a version of the mojito with lemongrass and Thai basil.

For now, the restaurant is open Thursday through Monday for dinner only, starting at 5 P.M. Seating on the large patio is first come-first serve. Reservations are recommended for indoor seating. Call 832-740-4888 to book a time.

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