Houston >Thim Hing Sandwich Shop
It's like going to a shop in Hanoi, no frills, great food.
Driving up to Thim Hing, you wonder if the place is still open. It's located in a run-down strip mall across from the Hong Kong City Mall, which gets much more traffic. The glass windows are tinted black, so you can't see through to the inside, and when you walk inside, it feels like you're in Vietnam. "Hole in the wall" aptly describes this little place - everything is a bit the worse for wear, nothing is updated, its cleanliness is suspect, the backlit sign looks a bit greasy.
Behind the counter, women squatted/sat on footstools peeling a vat of carrots. I had ordered ahead of time, but still had to wait as they slowly....slowly....put my sandwich together. But it was worth the wait.
They use a thin baguette bread which you can order in small or large. Small gets you 1/3 of the baguette. Large gets you 1/2 of the baguette, and they cost $2.50 and $3.50, respectively.
Their claim to fame is the meatball (xiu mai) sandwich, and rightly so. The meatball soft and tasty, the bread is lightly toasted a crispy perfection. I like that the bread is crisp but not hard, and the fact that use baguette means you don't have too much excess white bread as filler. While the filling is not abundant, they put just enough to make each bite savory and full of ingredients.
I ended up ordering $5 worth of xiu mai to go, as well as a plain baguette ($1.25). I also topped off my order with a "thap cam" , or everything sandwich, which had a bit of everything- pate, meatball, coldcut - just for kicks. The "thap cam" was very good but I think I preferred the xiu mai (meatball) sandwich. The owner told me that kids love the meatballs, and as other patrons walked up to order, I noticed the meatball sandwich was by far the most popular.
BEST BET: The meat ball (xiu mai) sandwich
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