I’ve heard a lot about Roostar Vietnamese Grill lately, and after visiting the restaurant recently, I can see what all the fuss is about.
Roostar is located at 1411 Gessner Road — a part of Spring Branch sometimes referred to as Koreatown — in a small retail center that also houses Flower Piggy Korean BBQ and La Michoacana Meat Market. (Roostar is opening a second location soon, near the Galleria area.)
Roostar’s logo was designed to reflect the French influence on Vietnam, and the owners’ love for Texas — the rooster is the unofficial symbol of France, and the star that is the rooster’s comb is a nod to the Lone Star State. The rooster “is drawn in flame-like strokes and colored with burning reds, symbolizing the passion and energy” that goes into each of Roostar’s dishes.
The first thing you will notice upon entering the tidy little restaurant is Linda, who owns and operates Roostar with her husband Ronnie. And the next thing you will notice is how pretty Linda is, like movie-star pretty:
And the next thing you’ll notice is how hard Linda works to make sure that each customer is treated respectfully and thoughtfully — whether explaining the menu, offering a sample, filling glasses, or rearranging chairs to accomodate diners. You’ll also see a lot of activity going on behind her, as employees hustle to fill orders:
The menu is simple, with lots of options to customize your meal:
One of Roostar’s most popular offerings is its banh mi, frequently referred to as the best in Houston (Roostar won the 2015 People’s Choice Award during Houston’s The Great Banh Mi Cook-Off, and will be defending its title this fall). The sandwich, which is on a French baguette, has its origins in the period when France occupied Vietnam, There are several grilled meats to choose from, along with smoked ham, avocado, fried egg, and smoked salmon. They’re made with traditional ingredients that include house-made garlic aioli, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapenos, cucumbers, and soy sauce. You can add avocado, egg, pate, or extra meat to any sandwich for a modest charge. We tried a grilled pork banh mi. The quality of the meat (not too fatty, smoky, slightly sweet) and the homemade aioli really made this sandwich a standout:
We also tried a box. The concept of the boxes reminded me of Chipotle’s ordering system, and is very user-friendly, especially for people not familiar with Vietnamese noodle and rice bowls. First you select a meat (grilled pork, grilled chicken, tofu, chopped ribeye, or wings). Next, choose your base (noodles, salad, white or fried rice). All boxes come with a spring roll, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, cilantro, fried garlic, and vinaigrette dressing. You can add avocado, egg, extra meat, or additional eggrolls for a modest charge. We went with the vermicelli with grilled pork:
The vermicelli box was fresh and filling, a delicious and satisfying lunch, particularly on a hot day like we’ve been having here.
Last, but not least, we tried the Beef Alphabet soup. This was unlike any soup I’ve ever had before, and it’s garnered raves from everyone who has tried it. It’s a salty, savory, umami-loaded bowl with finely chopped beef, alphabet pasta, cilantro, and secret spices. It’s served with house-made chili oil — be sure to add some. This soup was out of this world. If Roostar was closer to my home, I’d probably be having this soup at least 3 times a week.
Photo courtesy of Cuc Lam
While you’re there, treat yourself to a thai tea, milk tea, or iced coffee — they’re all great, rich with sweetened condensed milk, but so worth the calories.
We all loved Roostar Vietnamese Grill. I have no doubt you will too!