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Houston Matters

How Vietnamese Cuisine Became Houston’s Ever-Abundant Comfort Food

In conjunction with the Ken Burns series The Vietnam War, we learn how Houston become such a mecca for Vietnamese food.


On Sunday (Sept. 17, 2017), the Ken Burns documentary series The Vietnam War debuts on Houston Public Media, TV 8.

Many echoes of that great conflict still linger all these years later, including the large population of Vietnamese and southeast Asians who settled here during and after the war. And they brought with them much of their culture – and perhaps most notably – their food.

Houston is abundant with places for bánh mì sandwiches, bowls of pho, and Vietnamese-Cajun-style crawfish, just to name a few.

That rich food heritage is something Dr. Roy Vu of North Lake College and journalist Claudia Kolker have both written about quite a bit. Vu grew up in Houston and is the son of Vietnamese immigrants. As a historian, much of his work has focused on the lives of Asian immigrants who settled along the Gulf Coast. Kolker is a journalist and author of the book The Immigrant Advantage.

Houston Matters talks with them both about the circumstances that led Houston to become such a mecca for Asian food.

MORE: The Immigrant Advantage Excerpt (PDF)