Whats Eric Eating
What's Eric Eating Episode 15

South African restaurant's ambitious plans and A'Bouzy's opening are hot podcast topics

Peli Peli's ambitious plans and A'Bouzy's opening are podcast topics

Peli Peli Thomas Nguyen
Thomas Nguyen discussed his role in Peli Peli's growth. Courtesy photo
Peli Peli Katy interior
Peli Peli recently opened a location in Katy. Courtesy photo
Peli Peli Espetada
The espetada is a signature dish at Peli Peli. Courtesy photo
A'Bouzy baked oysters
A'Bouzy is the restaurant of the week. Photo by Becca Wright
Maison Pucha Bistro Manuel Victor Cristian
The news of the week includes chef Manuel Pucha's, left, plans to open a restaurant with his brothers. Photo by Eric Sandler
Peli Peli Thomas Nguyen
Peli Peli Katy interior
Peli Peli Espetada
A'Bouzy baked oysters
Maison Pucha Bistro Manuel Victor Cristian

On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," CutlureMap's weekly restaurant podcast, Peli Peli co-founder Thomas Nguyen joins food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the South African restaurant's growth from a humble start in Vintage Park to three locations across the Houston area.

Nguyen begins the conversation by explaining that he decided to get into the restaurant industry after realizing he wasn't happy working as a lawyer. 

The conversation continues with Nguyen explaining how Peli Peli developed its super-friendly service and a corporate culture that's allowed employees who started as servers to rise as high as general manager.

Peli Peli continues to expand with a new location in Austin and plans to open in Dallas.

Finally, Sandler and Nguyen share a conversation they had a couple years ago during which Sandler expressed his opinion that Peli Peli isn't a cool restaurant. Nguyen explains hearing that initially hurt his feelings, but he found it freeing.

"That's been almost a defining point for us, and I equate it to a nerd in high school, which I was, when someone finally tells you, 'Thomas, you're never going to be one of the cool kids," Nguyen says. "At that point, we were always trying to get validation . . . I spent a lot of time trying to, I guess, fit in. For us, at that point, we said, 'we're never going to be cool.' It just allowed us to be us."

Prior to Nguyen joining the show, L'Olivier owner Mary Clarkson and Sandler discuss the news of the week. Clarkson offers her thoughts on what chef Manuel Pucha should consider as he prepares to open Maison Pucha Bistro in the Heights. The duo also discuss Mala Sichuan Bistro's plans to add locations in Katy and Sugar Land as well as Hugo Ortega's pop-up in San Francisco with celebrity chef Michael Mina.

In the restaurants of the week segment, they discuss their champagne-fueled first visit to A'Bouzy. 

Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on iTunes or Google Play. Listen to it every Saturday at 11 am on 1560 AM.