A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 23, 2008
Vietnamese Fajitas (Bo Nuong Xa)

Vietnamese fajitas (Bo Nuong Xa) are strips of beef with lemongrass, rolled in rice-paper wrappers (rather than tortillas). Tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, sprouts, mint, basil, carrots, jalapeños and romaine leaves are some of the ingredients that also are wrapped into the “fajita.” Kim Son is a Vietnamese restaurant chain that began in Houston in 1982; it’s believed that “Vietnamese fajitas” first received their name here.

The Vietnamese dish of lemongrass beef pre-dates the 1982 Kim Son restaurant and the “Vietnamese fajitas” name.


Kim Son
Beef
Bo Nuong Xa - Vietnamese Fajitas
Sliced beef marinated in minced lemon grass
charcoal-broiled to perfection
12.95

Texas Monthly
KIM SON
HANKERING FOR HONEY-ROASTED PIGEON? How about Vietnamese fajitas? With offerings ranging from the frighteningly authentic to the infinitely accessible, Kim Son has paced the Vietnamese food explosion in Houston. Owned and managed by war refugees Tri M. La and family, Kim Son has grown from a hole in a graffitied wall, opened in a dicey downtown hood in 1982, to a $7 million empire consisting of four full-service restaurants and five take-away outlets scattered throughout the city.
(...)
Demanding slightly less manual dexterity are the delectable Vietnamese fajitas, an American favorite consisting of thin slices of char-broiled beef sirloin seasoned with sweetened soy sauce, lemon grass, and red wine, and served with fixings of mint, cilantro, vegetables, pineapple, and a side of rice-paper “tortillas.”

Southern Living (April 2005)
Vietnamese Fajitas (Bo Nuong Xa)
Prep: 30 min., Chill: 30 min., Grill: 4 min. Houston is home to a large Vietnamese population and the Kim Son Restaurant. Adapted from their house specialty, this top-rated recipe is a meal in itself--so don’t let the long ingredient list stop you from trying it. The grilled, marinated flank steak also makes a great main dish on its own.

Ingredients
1 pound flank steak
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped lemon grass
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups hot water
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 cup grated carrot, divided
Hot water
16 (6-inch) rice paper spring roll wrappers (bánh tráng)
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8- x 2-inch matchsticks
1/2 cup fresh pineapple slices, cut into 1/8- x 2-inch matchsticks
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 head iceberg lettuce or green leaf lettuce, shredded (...)

New York (NY) Times
DINING OUT; Vietnamese Fare in Old Saybrook
By PATRICIA BROOKS
Published: December 18, 1988
(...)
Bo xao lang consisted of thin pieces of beef stir fried with noodles, mushroom and onion slices. It was overcooked, with only a faint suggestion of curry.

Google Groups: houston.eats
Newsgroups: houston.eats
From: (James F. Saunders)
Date: 1995/08/25
Subject: Re: Good late night places - HELP!

“Vietnamese Fajitas” authentic? The food at Kim Son is still good, but the abience is suffering from the influence of the graduates of the Pappas Restuarant Chain Management School.

Houston (TX) Chronicle (August 30, 1995)
The September issue of Bon Appetit spotlights Houston’s Kim Son restaurant in a feature on America’s ethnic restaurants.

“Kim Son restaurant has not only struck a chord with Houston’s Vietnamese community, the third largest after San Jose’s and Los Angeles’, but it also has managed to entice adventurous eaters of every stripe to try a cuisine unknown to most,” says the food magazine.

Also included is Kim Son’s recipe for Grilled Marinated Beef With Vegetables in Rice Paper. Tri La, spokesman for the La family, which owns Kim Son, calls them Vietnamese Fajitas.

Houston (TX) Press
Diner’s Notebook
Swan Song
By Alison Cook
Published: August 31, 1995
(...)
Houston is rare among American cities in that it has its own distinctive cuisine, and in my more optimistic moments I think of that multifaceted hybrid—with its Vietnamese fajitas and mesquite-grilled catfish con salsa verde—as a metaphor for what the city could become. 

Google Groups: houston.eats
Newsgroups: houston.eats
From: Eric Hodges
Date: 1997/04/27
Subject: Re: Lido

Grilled Lemon Grass Chicken (Vietnamese fajitas, watch out, plate’s hot!)

New York (NY) Times
WHAT’S DOING IN; Houston
By JIM YARDLEY
Published: April 2, 2000
One of Houston’s most popular Vietnamese restaurants is Kim Son, 2001 Jefferson, (713) 222-2461, with a large, no-nonsense dining room and an enormous menu that includes Vietnamese fajitas, black pepper crab and some of the best spring rolls in town. Open Sunday to Thursday until midnight, Friday and Saturday till 3 a.m. Lunch for two, about $25; dinner for two with drinks, $35.

30 April 2000, San Jose (CA) Mercury News, “Shining in the Lone Star State: Vietnamese Adopt, Reshape Ways of Their Houston Home” by Jessie Mangaliman, pg. 14A:
Houston may be the only place in America with a fusion cuisine all its own, Vietnamese fajitas, a Tex-Mex-Vietnamese dish served at Kim Son, ...

The Viet Nam Restaurant (Spring Valley, NY)
Food Line
It’s a Wrap
Dennis A. Chansky
May 2, 2002
(...)
At the Viet Nam, both beef and pork are offered at the center of these dishes. As an appetizer, beef was marketed as Vietnamese fajitas, called bo nuong xa. Strips of beef the thickness of fine leather were grilled as severely as possible without becoming too stiff. Their flimsiness helped them retain the bouquet of the spices in which they were rubbed or marinated, especially garlic.

On the side were lettuce leaves, stalks of basil and mint, sticky translucent rice-flour pancakes, a soufflé cup of brown fruity barbeque sauce and a ramekin of tart and sweet white vinaigrette for dipping. When combined in one roll, the result is perhaps the brightest treatment afforded beef anywhere. There was not a lot of nuance, just pure tones of garden sweetness, hibachi smokiness and garlicky tang.

Houston (TX) Press
The Durian Dare
At sumptuous Ba Ky, the beer’s on ice, the durian is stinky, and the food is great
By Robb Walsh
Published: June 27, 2002
(...)
I order the Vietnamese fajitas, a plate of grilled beef served with herbs, vegetables and condiments, which you roll up in rice-paper wrappers. The hot beef retains the tang of a lemongrass marinade, and the tomatoes, cukes, onions, sprouts, mint, basil, shredded carrots, jalapeño slices and romaine leaves are all fresh and chilled. If you eat Vietnamese roll-your-own spring rolls a lot, you’ve had the frustrating experience of getting a pile of rice-paper sheets that are stuck together; peeling those little devils apart is harder than skinning catfish. But at Ba Ky, the sheets are brought to the table on a stack of dividers that look like pink Ping-Pong paddles. The paddles keep the sheets from sticking to each other, and little nubs on the paddles keep the sheets from sticking to the plastic.

Southern Living - Favorites 2005
Tastes of the South: Texas
My years in the Lone Star State taught me a valuable culinary lesson: If a dish is considered southern, you can find it here.

By Dianne Young
(...)
A Growing Menu
In Texas, food transcends politics and merges cultures. I find a prime example of that at Houston’s Kim Son. The La family came to Texas from Vietnam more than two decades ago, and since then, they’ve built a popular and thriving local restaurant chain on determination and family recipes. I pick a dish that eloquently represents a union of different worlds: Vietnamese Fajitas. Three plates arrive at the table. The first bears rice papers; the second carries grated carrots, lettuce, sprouts, cucumber, pineapple, mint, and cilantro. The last plate is piled with slices of flank steak, marinated and charcoal-grilled. As the name implies, I create a fajita by rolling the meat in the rice paper with a choice of toppings.

Houston (TX) Press
The Missing Fish Mint
Nam caters to mainstream palates by keeping the flavors mild and the herbs innocuous
By Robb Walsh
Published: August 4, 2005
Bo nuong xa, a dish of grilled lemongrass-marinated beef served with rice-paper wrappers, goes by the popular name of Vietnamese fajitas in Houston. When you order it at Nam Vietnamese Cuisine on Fondren, you get thin slices of beef cooked well done and delivered hot to your table. On the side, there’s a plate of cold lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots, fresh mint and cilantro. On another plate, you get the sheets of wet rice paper, conveniently stretched out on pink Ping-Pong-paddle-shaped plastic dividers to keep them from sticking together.

The dish is called Vietnamese fajitas because you roll the beef and vegetables up in the rice paper and dunk the package in the dipping sauce. The contrast between the hot beef and the cold herbs, along with the roll-your-own format, makes this a local favorite. At Nam the dish is tasty, though not nearly as exotic as the original.

The differences between the Vietnamese fajitas at Nam and the version you find at Vietnamese restaurants down on Bellaire Boulevard illustrate the dilemma that Houstonians face when it comes to picking a Vietnamese restaurant. Where do you draw the line on authenticity? 

My Pho Tai
Monday, September 12, 2005
Sizzling Vietnamese Fajitas
The sizzling fajitas of Vietnamese: banh xeo, a crispy crepe

Pho Van has three locations: one in the Beaverton burbs, one in the chic Pearl District, and, the original, on the Asian-dominated 82nd Ave. I haven’t been to the Beaverton location, but I understand that it emphasizes pho and grilled dishes. The Pearl District only has one version of pho on their menu, but a plenitude of other items, including a selection of fancy Western desserts. The 82nd location just re-opened after a re-modeling, both of the decor and their menu. The menu still has a full selection of pho and grilled dishes, but also includes hot pots and the seven courses of beef, great for family or friends to share. They also added some of their popular Pearl dishes, such as the lotus and banana blossom salads.

I prefer the Pearl location, Pho Van Bistro. The execution and service surpasses the 82nd location. The menu at the Bistro is also a little more upscale and interesting. One of their signature dishes, available at both locations, is banh xeo, a large Vietnamese crepe filled with shrimp, scallops, bean sprouts, and mung beans ($10.50 for lunch, $12 for dinner). It’s served with a side of lettuce and herbs and a salty/tangy sauce. The crepe itself is enormous and often hangs over the plate. The dish advertises itself, like sizzling fajitas in a Chili’s. 
(...)
Pho Van Bistro
1012 NW Glisan
Portland, OR 97209
503.248.2172

Musings of a vibrant imagination
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Johnny Carinos Country resturant
Wifey told me as we drove home that she wanted to go to a resturant called Johnny Carinos. It is a Country Italian restaurant. I have not been there cuz I don’t think they will have much more of a revelation in Italian food than I have already seen.

that wasn’t the reason my beloved wanted to go there.She thot it was a Country Western Italian resturant and was interested to see what kind of cuisine they serve. Barbeque fettucine? Chicken fried Chicken Parmesan??

She is new to the Texas and is in awe with the ability of the state to countrify or mexicanized anything. Even Asian restaurants are advertising Vietnamese fajitas. trust me, Texas is strong on their country ish. I bet there is a cowboy mafia that comes to each restaurant to make sure that the country interests are acknowledged in each restaurants.

Eating the World
4.18.2007
#6 Vietnam: Onward and Upward
(...)
Our new dish, the dish of the nouveau riche, is bo ne. This dish is laden with fat, meat and is served as a very hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner. The word ne means to lunge in order to avoid something, in this case, the flying fat. This dish could also be called Vietnamese fajitas, if one was so inclined, only because it is served on a scalding hot iron skillet.

Cook’s Tour by Alison Cook
May 29, 2007
Hollywood Vietnamese al fresco
(..)
Vietnamese fajitas--in a convivial do-it-yourself version that requires diners to soften their own rice-paper wrappers in bowl of hot water--are fun to wrap up with nicely grilled beef, chicken and seafood, along with lots of fresh greenery and a nest of vermicelli topped with crispy fried onion strings.

Chowhound - The new Kim Son (Austin)
The grilled meats were “vietnamese fajitas,” a funny name for grilled lemongrass beef, “honey” chicken, and charcoal shrimp.
(...)
rudeboy Feb 01, 2008 07:59PM

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, February 23, 2008 • Permalink