IT professional-turned-chef Franco Chin has a heart for bringing authentic Malaysian food to Katy and uniting the area’s Malaysian community over a meal that tastes like home.

Husband and wife Franco and Jovia Chin own and run Uncle Chin’s Kitchen, a reference to the Malaysian custom of referring to an elder as “uncle.” Building on a family legacy of cooking talent, Franco serves Malaysian food with some Singaporean options.

Franco said his relatives, who never attended cooking school, were talented at cooking, which he eventually noticed about himself. Franco’s father, who recently passed away, eventually revealed to him that one of his ancestors was a chef in the Malaysian emperor’s palace.

After graduating from high school, Franco wanted to work in a five-star restaurant but was discouraged from doing so. Instead, he came to the U.S. and attended the University of Kentucky to study computer science.

“All this time, there’s been a passion for cooking. Whenever I was stressed out, I would go to the kitchen and start cooking,” Franco said.

Franco built an outdoor kitchen 15 years ago. Using concepts gleaned from his years in IT, he reverse-engineered recipes based on how he remembered the taste. He said the better weather and good schools for his two sons drew him to Katy from Chicago 10 years ago; after 24 years working in IT, he opened Uncle Chin’s kitchen in May 2021.

“All these years, there's been a voice telling me ‘You need to start a restaurant,’” Franco said.

Many Southeast Asians living in the U.S. miss home cooked food, as it is hard to find authentic cuisine, Franco said.

“When I first started this, I wanted people, when they come here, to feel like they’re going home to eat dinner,” Franco said. “I feel like I’ve achieved that.”

Franco himself does most of the cooking at Uncle Chin’s Kitchen, with help from an assistant. All of the sauces he serves with his dishes are homemade from scratch.

“For me it’s the relationships and the human touch of the food, and I really care about every dish that comes out,” Franco said.

Franco said that, previously unbeknownst to him, there is a large Malaysian community in the area, scattered around. In his own restaurant, he has seen long-lost friends reunited on two occasions, and numerous guests have made the restaurant a weekly catch-up spot.

“This place is kind of like a glue, bringing them together as a community,” Franco said.

Uncle Chin's Kitchen

1520 Mason Road, Ste. A, Katy


Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon., Wed.-Thu., Sun.; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.; closed Tue. and Sat.