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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon–Fri 8:30am–9:00pm
Sat–Sun 11:00am–9:00pm

Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted

2602 Fannin St.
(713) 652-0644
Kim Tai
Salty, strong duck noodle soup and a banh bot chien worth hunting for

Look for the green awning that says “Luong Ky Mi Gia”—no, Kim Tai’s not next door. This is Kim Tai. Signage can be expensive, you know. Besides, isn’t there something of an allure to those restaurants claiming to be one thing, but secretly being another, like an illicit speakeasy trucking in duck noodle soup? There’s something charming about this shabby, plain place—perhaps it’s those dangling old lanterns over the counter, or the ornate wood chairs that appear to have been culled from some failed Cantonese banquet hall.

And Kim is a real person—a character, in fact. She runs the whole show, from door to kitchen to table, so when it’s busy, you might wait…and wait. Come during off hours and you can watch TV together. While you watch, enjoy the main draw here, terrific roast-duck noodle soup; the meat falls right off the bone, but the salt sensitive should opt instead for the good pho or bun bo Hue. Either way, you must also try the other star attraction, banh bot chien, a fried rice flour cake scrambled with egg and scallions. It’s slippery, chewy, and slightly crisp in places—absolutely a textural wonderland. We still think Tam Tam’s assembly-lined, popular version is more viscerally pleasurable, but Kim’s are made fresh to order, and you can taste that difference.

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