Houston’s Masterchef champion is ready to open her next restaurant. Christine Ha and her husband/business partner John Suh will begin the soft opening of Stuffed Belly this Saturday and Sunday (June 10 and 11) from 11 am - 7 pm.
Located in the same Spring Branch shopping center as the Blind Goat (8133 Long Point Rd.), Ha’s James Beard Award-nominated Vietnamese gastropub, Stuffed Belly serves the chef’s take on sandwiches the couple has enjoyed all their lives. Designed for quick service, the restaurant operates out of a drive-thru and offers only a limited amount of interior seating.
“John and I are excited to introduce Stuffed Belly to the Spring Branch neighborhood!” Ha said in a statement. “Sandwiches are some of our favorite comfort foods, and we want to share our own take on them with our beloved hometown of Houston.”
While Ha is known for the Vietnamese fare she serves at both The Blind Goat and Xin Chao, Stuffed Belly is not a banh mi shop. Instead, it serves the chef’s spin on classic American sandwiches such as egg salad, fried chicken, and grilled cheese.
For example, the Humpty Dumpty Egg’wich combines egg salad made with both Dijon and yellow mustard, lemon, and green onions and is served on crustless Texas toast. The Tuna Crunch is a tuna salad sandwich with red onion, celery, and crushed potato chips.
The three hot sandwiches start with a grilled cheese made with Cheddar, provolone, and American that’s topped with tomato confit. Stuffed Belly’s fried chicken sandwich gets some heat from a spicy, Sichuan-inspired mayo. Its smash burger follows a classic formula with caramelized onions, pickles, American cheese, and “Stuffed sauce.” The menu will grow over time with more sandwiches added in the weeks to come.
“I’ve added my own fun personal twist on some of the sandwiches and kept the others simple and straightforward,” Ha said. “I don’t believe in making everything over the top. If the classic is great, keep it that way. They’re classic for a reason.”
A kids menu features scaled down versions of the grilled cheese, fried chicken, and burger. Both kids and adults can add tater tots or chips to their meal. Desserts come from Pudgy’s Cookies, the bakery in the Heights known for its oversized, gooey treats.
To celebrate the soft opening, Stuffed Belly is offering a 50-percent discount on all sandwiches, sides, and drinks (cookies are regular price) on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am - 7 pm (or the food sells out). Expect a combo with a sandwich, side, and drink to cost between $12 and $17 at the regular price.
As a reminder, Ha has accomplished quite a bit since she won season three of Masterchef, Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition show. Prior to launching a career as a restaurateur, she wrote the best-selling cookbook Recipes From My Home Kitchen and made numerous TV appearances. The Blind Goat's original location in downtown's Bravery Chef Hall earned a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2020. Last year, the James Beard Awards recognized Ha and co-chef Tony Nguyen as finalists for Best Chef: Texas for their work at Xin Chao. With that kind of resume, Stuffed Belly seems poised to join Houston’s growing push of better sandwiches that includes LuLoo’s Day & Night, PrimoHoagies, and Mimo.