SAN ANTONIO — An Austin bromance has brought a lot of good to San Antonio.
Sean Wen and Andrew Ho met at the University of Texas a few years ago. While their majors had nothing to do with food, the two would host crawfish boils in their spare time.
"When we got to San Antonio, we started doing the same thing," Wen said. "We just did pop-up boils out of his truck for two years! His F-150, two tables, a tent and a crawfish boiler. "
As their fanbase grew, the success of their side hustle became too much for Ho's truck to haul. In 2017, they opened Pinch Boil House, a Southeast Asian eatery in downtown San Antonio.
What started with crawfish has expanded to a range of Southeast Asian street food and seafood boils.
"The people around here, the ecosystem—it's super unique," Wen said. "When we can offer somebody food that super unique, too, it's a beautiful marriage."
Wen recommends you try Kap's Chicken Curry to start. It's a rich panang curry with coconut, lemongrass, garlic, roasted chicken, potato and cilantro. Get a mountain of Pinch Fries to go with it! They're topped with crab, umami mayo, sriracha and scallions.
The variety of options keep customers satisfied, but the pandemic has slowed them down. With most people working from home, fewer people are downtown.
"It's been tough," Wen said. "But when those few people come in, it's an extra blessing."
Wen said the pandemic has cut sales by more than 60%. At this point, they're more focused on looking out for their employees rather than turning a profit.
"If we can make enough to pay our employees in full, that's worth being open," Wen said.
The food made inside Pinch Boil House is special. Wen said each dish pays homage to their culture, with a tip of the hat to Texas. This pandemic won't stop them from sharing what they're proud of with the community.
"To still provide people with a unique offering at a time like this is really important to us," Wen said. "They get to truly experience what our palette looked like growing up."
Pinch Boil House is located at 124 North Main Avenue. It's open from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.
To check out the full menu for Pinch Boil House, click here.