Despite a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants in Midtown, a gap exists in the available options. None of the banh mi shops like Les Givrals, Cali Sandwich or Thien An are open late. Of course, Mai's serves noodles bowls, spring rolls and pho well into the night, but that's not quite the same thing (and it ain't what it used to be).
Yes, it's a classic #firstworldproblem, but still, surely an enterprising restaurateur sees the potential of bringing one of Houston's favorite sandwiches to diners looking for a little sustenance after a couple of beers.
That someone is Qui M. Ly, whose family owns both the Les Givrals Kahve on Washington Ave (which is not connected to the Midtown location) and the recently opened Oui Desserts bakery at Kirby and Richmond. Ly tells CultureMap that he's making plans to expand the Oui brand with Oui Banh Mi, which will take over the space at Richmond and Mandell previously occupied by the recently shuttered hamburger favorite Lucky Burger (credit twittering foodie Chic Chick Chic Eats for first noticing Oui's account).
One of the key components for Oui's design will be reviving the space's drive-thru window.
Set to open in the January or February, Oui Banh Mi will serve banh mi sandwiches, rolls (spring, egg and summer) and a rotating selection of daily specials. "We will do away with all entrees being available daily, but rather just certain days as the space is really limited," Ly tells CultureMap in an email. "(Our plan is to) focus on one dish and make it: Steak night, noodle night, etc."
One of the key components for Oui's design will be reviving the space's drive-thru window. "Since we have a drive-thru, we can push the sandwiches out rather quickly," Ly explains.
In addition, to take advantage of the foot traffic afforded by neighbors like Revelry on Richmond and The Harp, Oui will also have a walk-up window. Inside, the space will be completely renovated with a new look that incorporates "wood and industrial" elements.
While exact hours are in the planning stages, Oui will be open until 3 a.m. on the weekends, giving the area another late-night dining option and, finally, a way to satisfy banh mi cravings after dark.
It all sounds like Oui has the potential to be a valuable addition to the area near the Menil. "We want to be part of the neighborhood," Ly says.