Houston’s Masterchef winner is coming to Spring Branch. Chef and cookbook author Christine Ha and her husband and business partner John Suh will open a permanent location of their Vietnamese gastropub The Blind Goat in the diverse Houston neighborhood.
Currently a stand at Bravery Chef Hall, the Blind Goat will join Feges BBQ and Shoot the Moon at Spring Branch Village, local real estate developer Braun Enterprises’ shopping center at 8141 Long Point Rd. Ha tells CultureMap that she and Suh recently moved to Spring Branch and saw an opportunity to bring a chef-driven concept that would compliment the neighborhood’s vibrant mix of Korean, Mexican, and other immigrant-owned establishments.
“There’s really no place I want to hang out all the time in Spring Branch, meet up friends for food and drinks or a snack,” she says. “I want to bring the Blind Goat closer, to have a place our friends and family can meet us for a drink after work. I’ve been searching for that.”
Opened in 2019 as one of Bravery’s original tenants, the Blind Goat is Ha’s nod to Nhau, Vietnamese food served with drinks. The restaurants has earned wide acclaim, including a 2020 James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for best new restaurant in the country. Ha, who won season three of the Gordon Ramsay cooking competition show Masterchef in 2012, also owns and operates Texan-influenced Vietnamese restaurant Xin Chào with chef Tony Nguyen. Like at Xin Chào, she sees an opportunity for the Blind Goat to introduce diners to Vietnamese flavors in a less traditional way.
“What I love about going to Vietnam and eating street food is you’re in an open air market sitting on a plastic stool at a metal table. There’s all these small plates of seafood or fried chicken or what have you coming out,” she says. “I want to take that sort of vibe but make it feel more polished.”
Moving to a larger space will allow Ha to expand the menu with more tapas-style seafood dishes as well as a larger selection of the skewers served at the current location. Classic Vietnamese dishes like beef seven ways could be updated into a coursed menu.
Having traveled extensively throughout Asia, she also plans to incorporate ingredients and techniques from other cuisines, such as Korean-style crispy rice bowls. Some of the menu decisions will be dictated by whether or not the design includes tabletop grills.
Similarly, the new restaurant will provide Ha with an opportunity to develop a more expansive beverage program. She’s searching for the right bar star to help bring her vision to life.
“The cocktails, I’m still trying to narrow down what I’m envisioning,” she says. “I want that beachy, outdoor feel. Kind of a tiki vibe but definitely not a tiki bar.”
Ha acknowledges the couple hasn’t made a decision about what the future of the Blind Goat’s current location downtown.
“We might keep it as a satellite location with a slimmed down menu, maybe turn it into the Sighted Pig, our Korean venture,” she says. “It’s all up in the air right now.”