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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Jacklyn Pham

Saigon Pagolac

Jacklyn Pham’s parents left Vietnam just before the Fall of Saigon in 1975. They landed in Washington, D.C., and her father got a job at a friend’s restaurant, where he worked as a cook.

In 1980, when Jacklyn was almost a year old, Long Pham relocated his family to Houston, where they had relatives and looked forward to being in a city with larger Vietnamese community. In 1989, Long opened his restaurant named for a pagoda overlooking a lake in Saigon. He chose a location at the west end of Bellaire Boulevard — Houston’s second Chinatown.

But when he opened Saigon Pagolac, his was one of only a few Vietnamese restaurants in that part of town. Twenty-five years later in 2014, this family-style restaurant tucked into the back of the Dynasty Mall is celebrated for its staying power, as well as its signature dish, The Seven Courses of Beef. All of their family-style dishes are do-it-yourself: cooked at the table and wrapped into spring rolls as you go.

Date of interview:

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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