Brisket & Rice co-owner Hong Tran decided to make brisket the main focus of his family’s restaurant for one reason—everyone loves to eat it, but they do not have the time to make it. In Texas, every barbecue joint is judged by just how well they do their brisket, he said.

“Because brisket, I think, is very critiqued ... especially here in Texas. It's very hard to make good brisket that people like because there are a lot of barbecue restaurants around, and everybody has their particular spot,” Tran said.

Tran, who grew up in Brenham, said smoking meat is a way of life there. He and his brother Phong were brisket enthusiasts long before they bought a used smoker or ever thought about opening a restaurant.

Tran said growing up, his mom would buy meat and rice and cook and serve them together, so he thought it was a great restaurant concept. The eatery serves meats by the pound and traditional sides, but the Asian influence sets them apart.

“When I told people we were gonna call it Brisket & Rice, they said, ‘No, you can't. It has to be something barbecue.’ And I'm like, no, I like Brisket & Rice ... I'm just gonna do it,” he said.

In addition to the brisket and rice dish, Tran said barbecue fried rice is a popular menu item consisting of cubed brisket, sausage, eggs and onions fried in a wok.

Tran said the family decided to grind meat in-house to make their own sausage by hand rather than getting it from a vendor as a lot of their competitors do.

“I think we got a pretty good sausage. We do a beef and pork house sausage, and we do a beef jalapeno sausage. It's about a two-day process," he said.

Opening a restaurant without the benefit of experience was “probably the toughest thing” Tran has ever done, he said.

“It was March 17. I remember that date specifically because ... [we] never did a dry run. So we just opened, and then we didn't even have change in our register, and people were lined out the door waiting,” he said.

And Tran still has his “day job” in the area working in part production for the energy industry. Along with his wife, Michelle, and his brother Phong, they opened their restaurant in a space that was once a Church’s Chicken inside of a Phillips 66 gas station.

Tran explained that the location, which they were fortunate to find, is a major key to their success, as they have high-end residential communities, blue-collar middle-class communities, and oil and gas-related industries located nearby, rather than just being located in one community, which Tran feels helps spread the word about Brisket & Rice.

“It's a great location, and it's a great mix of people. ... I love the fact that everybody can come; we're not secluded somewhere in a rich area. Because they are all different kinds of work and lifestyles ... but they’re here together,” Tran said.
Brisket & Rice, 13111 FM 529, Houston. 713-936-9575.

Hours: Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (or until sold out), closed Mon.-Tue.