When deciding where to start their restaurant venture, brothers Andy and Charles Nguyen said the decision was easy. The pair opened Nobi Asian Grill in Friendswood to fill a glaring void they saw in the community.
“We were looking around, and it was really hard to find a mom and pop place to eat, a local restaurant,” Andy said. “It’s all chain [restaurants] around here. Immediately we said, ‘Let’s do it here.’”
Nobi Asian Grill opened in October 2009 next to the gas station and convenience store the Nguyen family has operated since 2000. The eatery offers dishes from the Nguyens’ native Vietnam, including banh mis and vermicelli.
“Vietnamese cuisine has been climbing up on the ladder as probably now one of the most popular cuisines in the country,” Andy said.
The restaurant’s most popular item is the banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich served on a French baguette with a customer’s choice of meat. While chargrilled pork is the most popular selection, patrons may also choose chargrilled chicken, meatballs, shrimp or tofu.
The menu features a few other entrees, such as chicken wings and vermicelli, but Andy said simplicity and selectivity rule at Nobi Asian Grill.
“We have a very small, selective menu, and that’s what we prefer,” he said. “The idea is to keep it simple and maintain the quality.”
Potential new dishes go through taste-testing with staff and regular customers, Andy said.
“If we can’t promise to make a good, quality product, then we’re not going to,” he said. “We’re not going to throw something on the menu just because. Unfortunately that’s what you see a lot.”
Andy said people from around the community packed Nobi Asian Grill on its first day. It is that level of local support that makes him proud to have a restaurant in Friendswood, he said.
“From our loyal customers from the gas station alone, there was already a line forming on our grand opening day,” Andy said.