100 Favorite Dishes: No. 57, Vegan Curry at Cafe TH
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
Cafe TH, once known as Thiem Hung (in fact, that's still their Twitter handle: @ThiemHung), seriously branched out under the ownership of Minh Nguyen when he purchased the bakery and banh mi shop from its old owners several years ago. And nowhere is Nguyen's new direction for the old Vietnamese cafe more evident than it its vegan curry.
"Originally, I only offered it on certain days," Nguyen told me. "And then people started asking for it more and more," he continued. So despite the fact that making the curry is a very time-consuming, he began offering it on a daily basis. It's not only attractive to the increasing numbers of vegetarian and vegan patrons (indeed, I've turned on a few vegetarians to Cafe TH with a bowl), but the curry is so good that it's even appealing to regular omnivores like myself.
The secret to the curry's deep, silky, earthy broth is simply time. Nguyen boils handfuls of cauliflower, green beans, carrots, onions and still more vegetables separately before combining all of the vegetable stocks together with a green curry base that he thickens up with coconut milk. To brighten it up, Nguyen then adds lime, basil and pungent vegan fish sauce.
The New York Times ran a piece this morning on the "new" throwback trend of stem-to-root eating (prepare to start hearing that one a lot more, whether you like it or not). Nguyen and Cafe TH were way ahead of the curve on that one.
The list so far:
No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19 No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten No. 71: Shawarma from Abdallah's No. 70: Moules-frite at the Broken Spoke No. 69: Hong Kong-style French toast at House of Bowls No. 68: Sashimi sampler at Sushi Miyagi No. 67: Baleadas from Honduras Mayan No. 66: Snow ice from Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki No. 65: Boudin balls from MerCheri's No. 64: Miso ramen at Umai No. 63: Grim burger at Lankford Grocery No. 62: Dabeli at Bansuri Indian Food Corner No. 61: Wine and cupcakes at 13 Celsius No. 60: Pâté de France from Spec's No. 59: Steak and eggs from Ninfa's on Navigation No. 58: Breakfast pita at Niko Niko's
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