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Thursday, July 7, 2022
Home Technology Hockey, Vinyl & Bun Bo Hue in the Heart of Houston

Hockey, Vinyl & Bun Bo Hue in the Heart of Houston


Flying into Houston for an exclusive tour of the new Focal Powered by Naim Houston store, we were struck by the unbelievable sprawl of the 4th largest city in America. If you have not been to Houston in the past 5 years – you’re missing out on an incredibly diverse city that has a lot to offer.

Baseball fans will snicker and bang a garbage can lid at the mere mention of the Houston Astros, but there’s no question that Minute Maid Park is one of the nicer parks in baseball.

I really hope Gary Bettman gets over this fantasy he’s been living for over a decade with regard to the Arizona Coyotes and moves them to Houston so that the Aeros can be reborn. In a proper city that will support an NHL hockey team – where they do not have to play in a college arena that seats 3,500 fans.

Houston was part of the WHA defunct that folded when the NHL absorbed the Edmonton Oilers, New England (Hartford… who became the Carolina Hurricanes) Whalers, Winnipeg Jets, and Quebec Nordiques (Colorado Avalanche) and won multiple Avco Cups during its short history.

Gordie Howe, Mark & ​​Marty Howe, 1975

Houston is also home to the 4th largest Vietnamese community in N. America and we’re still debating if our stomach can handle another bowl of Bun Bo Hue – the Vietnamese food here along the Gulf Coast is second to none.

Mai's Houston Vietnamese Cuisine
Bun Bo Hue

Vietnamese is the third-most commonly spoken language in Texas and there are Vietnamese stores, restaurants, and community centers all over the Greater Houston area.

Having grown up in Toronto where it took a lot longer for Vietnamese food to emerge in a city with 630,000 Chinese residents and a few hundred Chinese restaurants scattered across the GTA, I had to settle for a solitary Bánh mì sandwich shop on Spadina Avenue and I did not really try Pho until I moved to DC and Northern Virginia for college in 1989.

Contrary to any rubbish being posted by the folks in charge in Austin, COVID was still very much a thing in Texas and many stores required masks still. Considering the oppressive nature of the humidity in Houston, we were amazed to see so many people walking around in masks.

sigs-lagoon-record-store

Houston also has a number of interesting record stores that we visited on our tour and we managed to sneak in a visit to Sig’s Lagoon before getting down to work.

Our Music Editor, Lauren Halliday, is a native Houstonian and highly recommended Sig’s Lagoon which is located in the downtown core of the city. Located almost 1.5 miles from our hotel, we decided to brave the humidity and it was well worth the effort as far as selection is concerned.

The store occupies two floors of an older building and was wall-to-wall records and rather busy for 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

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The selection of new / used rock was excellent; the collection was spread out over both floors and we spent more than an hour in the store before leaving with our purchases for lunch.

stooges-little-richard-albums

Blues, jazz, country, and movie soundtracks were well represented and we could have emptied our bank accounts had we not left to eat.

The staff were friendly, eager to help, and it’s the type of record store where one could spend hours crate digging.

Only one issue. The prices at Sig’s Lagoon are definitely on the higher side for used records and some of the new albums were priced higher than stores in NY or NJ. We winced at some of the prices for a number of rock and blues albums on display. Spending between $ 200 and $ 900 for Muddy Waters, The Stooges, and Little Richard was not in the cards.

Mai's Houston Vietnamese Ice Coffee
Vietnamese Ice Coffee at Mai’s

As we mentioned, no trip to Houston is complete without some Bun Bo Hue, Summer Rolls, or Vietnamese Ice Coffee. I’ve been eating Vietnamese food for almost 33 years and Mai’s in Midtown was a real shock. Packed the entire time and for good reason; the food is outstanding and very reasonable.

Locals told me that it’s not even close to being the “best” in Houston which only makes us want to try some other local favorites.

Minute Maid Park Houston
Minute Maid Park, Home of the Houston Astros

Later in the day back at the hotel, I worked out next to the CTO of a tech company that was in the process of relocating from California to Houston.

“This city has enormous appeal to the tech industry,” he remarked.

“The diversity, tax advantages of Texas, and access to kids graduating from top schools like Rice makes this city a great place to build a company.”

Houston is a city on the move.

After visiting a trio of really excellent record stores, we have definite plans to return this year when my nephew begins his program at Rice University and I can focus on visiting 3-4 other record stores and trying more Vietnamese and Mexican food.



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