The “Vietnamese fast food” served at Huong Lan is doing so well that the restaurant has opened a second location.
The new restaurant opened earlier this month at 5669 E. Kings Canyon Road, next to the new FoodMaxx at Clovis Avenue. If you remember, Huong Lan opened a restaurant in 2012 at 4965 N. Fresno St., right across from Fashion Fair mall.
Both places specialize in the Vietnamese banh mi — sandwiches made with French bread — and pho, the big bowls of soup with noodles, meat and vegetables. Huong Lan sells 18 sandwiches, most of them under $5, and several kinds of pho.
What you won’t find here is Americanized versions of the dishes, like the banh mi dubbed “the ultimate” or the vegetarian pho broth you’ll find at Wayside Noodles in Fig Garden Village.
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Owner Jake Lam says Huong Lan is taking the authentic route. They use recipes his family brought to the U.S. from Vietnam. That means the most popular banh mi is No. 12 made with paté of pork liver and head cheese, which is not cheese at all, but made from pieces of the ear, tongue and nose of a pig’s head.
The restaurant caters to Asian customers, but Lam says people of all backgrounds are discovering banh mi.
“Before it was an exotic food, now it’s not,” he says.
In case you’re wondering, Huong Lan is the name of a sandwich shop in Vietnam his parents liked, but it’s also the name of a flower and a Vietnamese singer.
The owners of Huong Lan had been planning to open a location downtown near Community Regional Medical Center, even putting up a sign at one point. But those plans fell through.
The new Huong Lan is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The Organic Fresno restaurant is closing after two-and-half years in business. You have until Monday to get a last meal at the farm-to-fork restaurant and dinner theater with a market on Parkway Drive.
It’s been a tough few months in the restaurant industry, says owner Tara Hamilton, who goes by “Ta-raw” these days.
“People have less money so they eat out less and we have a very small market that we cater to,” she says.
Hamilton still has a lot going on. She’s written a book, “Cook Grow Love,” which features personal stories, lots of recipes and a focus on local, seasonal organic food.
She has started an IndieGoGo fund-raising campaign to self publish the book and donate 1,000 copies to low-income families. You can find out more by searching for “Cook Grow Love” at www.indiegogo.com.
What will Hamilton do next?
“I think I’m going to go to Santa Barbara and live on my sailboat.”
HCK, the trendy restaurant and bar at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue, is planning to open a second location. It will be in Clovis. But since the lease is still being negotiated, partner Lewis Everk didn’t go into detail, only saying plans call for it to be on Clovis Avenue, between Fourth and Fifth streets.
HCK used to stand for Hermosa California Kitchen, but they’ve pretty much dropped that and just call it HCK. A Clovis location would be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Stay tuned as you’ll definitely be hearing more details from me as this one moves along.
Harris Ranch Restaurant in Coalinga has a new executive chef. Reagan Roach has worked in the restaurant’s kitchen off and on for years.
He’s worked his way up, leaving at times to work as kitchen manager at Chef Wolfgang Puck Grand Café at Disney World in Florida, John D’s Steakhouse in Lemoore, Giannola Steak House and Vida’s Italian Steakhouse in Hanford. He also the traveled the world as a Marine Corps cook.
He comes from a family of cattle ranchers in Texas.
Roach plans to experiment with local, seasonal fruit, vegetables and nuts.
The new Denny’s in Fowler officially opens at 4 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant at 160 N. 10th St. near Highway 99 will be open 24 hours a day.
The restaurant will offer its traditional favorites such as Moons Over My Hammy, along with its “fit fare” healthy options. Kids under age 10 eat free from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday with purchase of an adult entree.