Even as Killen's Barbecue has taken the Houston area by storm, the city continues to produce a new breed of pitmasters who want to show off their craft. One such example of this new breed is Blood Bros. BBQ.
The product of Glitter Karaoke owners Robin and Terry Wong and their fried Quy Hoang, who mans the grill at Glitter's popular Wednesday steak nights, Blood Bros. brings a slight twist to the usual Texas recipe of simple seasoned meats cooked low and slow over post oak wood. So far, diners are responding — naming Blood Bros. the city's third most underrated barbecue purveyor in a recent Houston Press poll and selling out its monthly pop-ups at The Refinery.
Robin Wong tells CultureMap that Blood Bros grew out of the customer appreciation parties he and Terry throw at Glitter.
"With our flavors, I like spicy stuff. Everything I do I throw a little bit bolder, a little spicier."
"We were grilling outside, and (Hoang) was like ‘Why don’t you just let me do it?’ I said ‘If you want to.’ "
Customers responded favorably and soon Hoang, a self-taught grilling enthusiast who operates an aquarium store with his uncle, was in charge of a weekly steak night. In addition to steaks, Hoang would bring in additional meats he prepared on his Weber kettle, like smoked quail or ribs.
"The customers really liked it," Wong says. "We got to a point where we considered doing more than just a couple things here and there."
After a Super Bowl party that featured an all-barbecue menu prepared by Hoang, the three men bought a large smoker to meet the increasing demand. "Now we're committed," Wong says.
"We’ve been lucky to have a lot of support," Wong adds. "(Underbelly chef) Chris Shepherd is a good friend, and he’s been really supportive. (Killen's Barbecue employee Patrick) Feges has been a good friend and he’s given us pointers here and there."
Hoang's barbecue breaks with tradition in a couple ways. First, he uses a mixture of pecan and cherry wood rather than post oak. More importantly, "a lot of people use salt and pepper normally. With our flavors, I like spicy stuff. Everything I do I throw a little bit bolder, a little spicier," Hoang says.
"Our people who come here like that, but I’ve toned it down a little bit. When we first started everything we made was super spicy. I (said), 'If we’re going to start this and sell to the masses, I probably need to tone it down.' I think we have the right balance right now."
At last month's pop-up, friends and I agreed that the beef ribs were spot on, but the brisket wasn't at the same level as more established cooks. "We’re still playing with stuff," Wong says. "We’ll read something and maybe try a different technique. We’ve changed the way we store it to keep it fresh. We’re still learning."
The monthly pop-ups sell out, as do the occasional appearances at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co's weekly tours. Could the Blood Bros. make this a full-time occupation?
"It’s hard to say. I’ve thought about it, but, right now, who knows? I’ve been doing the aquarium thing for 25 years," Hoang says.
"Feges tells us all the time ‘I just got finished working a 70 hour week.’ That’s all you. We’re not ready for that," Wong adds.
For Wong, it's all about enjoying the experience and making people happy. "As long as it’s fun and as long as people enjoy it, we’re going to keep doing it."
Want to see the Blood Bros in action? Watch the video below: