When restaurants close on unexpected days

My Tho: Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I spent weeks telling a friend how amazing the tacos were at Paleteria La Reyna, 2925 Arkansas Ave., and we made a date to go. We pulled up, hungry, on a Wednesday afternoon, only to find the parking lot empty.

Panicked, I ran to the door. The restaurant was closed. The chairs were on the tables. On a Wednesday. “OH NO!” I screamed. “They’ve gone out of business!!!”

But, no. The restaurant was simply closed. It’s closed every Wednesday, I learned.

Restaurants closing on unexpected days — which in my book is pretty much any day other than Sunday or Monday — have always thrown me. Inevitably, cravings for My Tho’s fabulous pho hit me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — the very random days they are closed.

I’m printing a list of three restaurants with unusual closing hours in the paper on Friday, and the story already is generating discussion online, with several readers adding their two cents.

Here’s a list of strange closing days I have so far. Know of any others? Maybe we can help each other avoid Wednesday taco cravings.

1. My Tho, 500 E. Central, 316-262-5452: It never fails. A hankering for pho hits you on a Tuesday. But this popular purveyor of the delicious Vietnamese soup can’t help you on Tuesday – or on Wednesday, either. Those are the restaurant’s two days off. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays through Sundays.

2. Paleteria La Reyna, 2925 Arkansas, 316-831-9196: It’s usual for Mexican restaurants to close on Mondays. But this restaurant, known for its fabulous tacos and colorful Mexican ice cream counter, chooses to closes in the middle of the week – on Wednesday. Don’t worry. If you forget and show up anyway, Taqueria El Paisa is just a few blocks the other direction at 2227 Arkansas and an excellent choice, too. Paleteria La Reyna’s hours are 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

3. Garden Grill Cafe, 300 N Main St., 316-978-9213: You won’t want to plan to meet your friends for a fabulous vegetarian pizza on Saturdays at Garden Grill Cafe. It’s the only day of the week the cafe is closed, which chef/owner Miguel Larcher takes off for religions reasons. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

4. DeFazio’s, 2706 N. Amidon: This popular Italian restaurant closes on Mondays and Tuesdays.

5. Ah-So, 855 S. Oliver St: The tiny Asian restaurant is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Know of any others? Let me know in the comments section below.

Food Network Magazine recognizes local ice cream shop

For the past several summers, Food Network Magazine has put out a “Fifty States” issue, which names the best of a certain dish in each of the 50 states.

Two summers ago, it was pizza, and Wichita Pizza Co’s taco pizza was named the best in Kansas. Last summer, the topic was sandwiches, and the banh mi at My Tho was the Kansas sandwich that made the list.

This summer, Food Network Magazine is listing the country’s best ice cream treats, and the issue on stands now names Paleteria La Reyna’s helado (Spanish for ice cream) the best in Kansas.

I love the ice cream there, which is creamier than standard ice cream. My favorite flavors are tequila (it really tastes like it), pine nut, pistachio and cookies and cream. My daughter loves the bubble gum flavor, which she chews on for hours.

I also love the rest of the menu at Paleteria La Reyna, which serves up some of the best tacos, tortas and chips and salsa in town.

For more information, visit the restaurant at 2925 N. Arkansas or call 316-831-9196.

My Tho will reopen next week

My Tho, the popular Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central, finally has a reopening date, and owners say it is definite for sure this time: Sept. 4, which is a week from today.

The restaurant, which has been closed since June for sprucing and remodeling, will have new floors, new ceilings and more seating in the area of the restaurant that previously held pool tables.

Everything is finished, but Sept. 4 feels like a lucky day to the owners, their son said. It’s a Tuesday, and the restaurant is normally closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But during the first week back, they’ll be open both Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, they’ll resume the old hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays.

For more information, call 316-262-5452.

My Tho is famous — and still closed

The new issue of Food Network Magazine, which is on newstands now, features a local sandwich: My Tho’s delicious banh mi. (Just take a look at the story and click on ‘KS.’)

The issue names one fabulous sandwich from each of the 50 states, and My Tho’s banh mi — featuring sliced, grilled pork, sliced fresh jalapeno, fresh cilantro, pickled julienne carrots and daikon, soy sauce and black pepper stuffed into a crusty French baguette – represents Kansas. The magazine even has a pretty picture of the colorful sandwich.

Unfortunately, those who haven’t tried the sandwich will have to wait a little longer. Delay after delay has kept My Tho at 500 E. Central, which closed for a big remodeling project in June, from reopening on time. Owners hoped to reopen last week, but now, they’re saying they need one or two more weeks because a new dishwasher and a soda dispenser have yet to be delivered.

Last year, Wichita Pizza Co’.s taco pizza was featured in a similar story in the magazine.

Three Vietnamese food headlines

My Tho's beef stew

Over the past year, I’ve realized something: My favorite food in Wichita is Vietnamese food.

I don’t know when it happened, but I think it was somewhere in between my discovery of the existence of banh mi sandwiches and my first bite of beef stew at My Tho. Now, I crave the fresh, basil-y, grilled meat fabulousness of Vietnamese food constantly. Lucky for me, there are plenty of places in Wichita to get it.

Today, I have three snippets of Vietnamese news to share.

1. My Tho update: A reader named Don wrote today to ask me when My Tho was ever going to reopen. The Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central closed early this summer for remodeling, and although owners expected to have it reopen by June, they’re still working. They need about 10 more days, the owners’ son told me today. When they get back in, customers will find a repainted, refloored, rearranged restaurant with more room for seating. I’ll keep you updated.

The banh mi from Little Saigon

2. Little Saigon review: In case you missed it, Wichita Eagle Dining Panel member Sigrid Trombley this week reviewed one of my other very favorite Vietnamese restaurants: Little Saigon at 1015 N. Broadway. I finally got around to trying this place about a month ago, and now, it’s all I think about. The restaurant is big and bright and makes great food.

3. Saigon No. 49 recipe: A reader named Debbie wrote this week asking me to dig up the recipe we published for Saigon’s No. 49 back in 2004. Owner Hanh Bui provided the recipe for the dish, a favorite among Saigon’s customers, as part of a special holiday package in the paper. Here it is:

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into pieces about 1-inch by 1/2-inch by 1/4- inch thick
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 lb. rice vermicelli noodles
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups shredded lettuce

Saigon owner Hann Bui and his famous No. 49

2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup sliced green onion
4 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Sauce:
1/4cup lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 jalapeno, chopped
Shredded carrot, optional

DIRECTIONS
Mix hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic and pepper. Place chicken in marinade while preparing vegetables and sauce. Make sauce by mixing lime juice, fish sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, jalapeno and carrot, if using. When ready to cook, prepare noodles according to package directions. Heat oil in a skillet or wok. Pour chicken and marinade into the skillet and stir-fry until done.

Among four bowls, divide lettuce, bean sprouts, cilantro, noodles, onion and chicken. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and sauce and serve.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS.

My Tho closed through June for remodel

Those in the know about pho often can be seen slurping at My Tho, the unassuming but awesome Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central — right at the corner of Central and Emporia.

But they won’t be seen there for a while. My Tho is closed and will remain so at least through the end of the month while the owners do some remodeling.

They’re redoing the floor, replacing the ceiling and cleaning up the part of the restaurant that’s held old pool tables and other junk so that they can add more tables and expand the dining room.

The work should take about three more weeks. I’ll let you know when the My Tho reopens.

Tacos have replaced pho on South Hillside

What once was at My Canh...

A reader named Ron sent in this question over the weekend:

“I drove by 2959 S. Hillside and found a Mexican food restaurant.  Is there another address for My Canh?”

Sadly, My Canh, a delicious Vietnamese restaurant I reviewed back in 2007, closed its doors about a year ago. Nhung Nguyen and Johnson Tran re-opened the restaurant at 2959 S. Hillside in 2007 after having closed, moved and reopened it twice before. (Maybe they will again? We can hope…)

The good news: The business that took over the space is called Restaurante Tienda Rochel. It’s a family-owned business that’s half grocery store, half restaurant. It specializes in breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes prepared by owner Rafaela Rochel and her sisters. Look for dishes such as heuvos rancheros, tortas, burritos, shrimp cocktail, and on weekends, a whole grilled chicken that’s been marinated overnight.

Meanwhile, Ron, if you need some suggestions on good Vietnamese restaurants to help you with your pho craving, I recommend My Tho, Pho Hot Bistro, and the classic Wichita Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon at 1103 N. Broadway.

Eat here soon

halloween.jpg 004For years, I’ve been told by chefs and foodies that I should try My Tho, a little Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central (corner of Central and Emporia) that doubles as a pool hall.

Tanya Tandoc loves it, as does Douglas Pitts and foodie friends Carrie Rengers and Joe Stumpe.

So on Saturday, I joined the latter two for lunch at My Tho, and it was as good as billed. I can’t stop thinking about the beef stew (above) that I had. It’s pho made with beef, carrots, egg noodles and the deepest, richest red broth. I just kept sipping until my stomach hurt.

It’s not fancy, but it’s clean and tasty. Next time you’re up for a dining adventure, go to My Tho.