Behind the Kitchen Door: Health inspector shuts down longtime Chinese restaurant for pests, plumbing problems

Van’s Chinese Seafood Restaurant ‘chef’ gives conflicting answers about status of business

SAN ANTONIO – Health inspectors recently suspended the license of a longtime Chinese restaurant on Broadway, just north of downtown.

Van’s Chinese Seafood Restaurant, located in the 3200 block of Broadway, was forced to close temporarily following a February inspection.

Their big problem was plumbing issues.

There was “no hot water,” and a cap was missing from the plumbing that caused “a foul odor” when the water ran.

The inspector also wrote “small, live pests” were also seen in the business.

The inspector gave the restaurant a score of 79 but forced it to shut down until hot water could be restored, pest control services were hired, and all fees were paid.

The restaurant was closed when KSAT Investigates reporter Tim Gerber stopped by this week.

However, Than Hein Nguyen was inside and answered the door. He said he was the chef, not the owner of the business. He agreed to take Gerber behind the kitchen door to answer some questions.

Nguyen said they were only shut down for a day. He also said they hired pest control.

“I already got it. I showed it to the inspector last month,” Nguyen said. “Everything, I do it, but I don’t want to spend more money to fix it up, no.”

While the business was allowed to reopen, he said they no longer operate.

“I want to get out of here. I don’t want to do it and everything,” Nguyen said. “I’m too old.”

He said they’re “not open,” but he still uses the restaurant “to cook for family.”

Nguyen said they’ve been struggling since COVID hit. The business also got hit with a string of negative publicity last year when a state game warden seized more than $25,000 worth of shark fins.

After that, it took city health inspectors several attempts to get inside for an inspection.

Records show inspectors tried in June, October, November, and December last year and again in January and February of this year before finally being allowed inside.

Nguyen said it was just because they hadn’t been open for business.

When asked if they were still opening the business on some days for dinner, he said that sometimes he opens for family, and occasionally other customers come in.

So are they open or not? It seems it depends on the day.

Nguyen and two other people associated with the restaurant were charged with several misdemeanors related to the possession of the shark fins.

KSAT Investigates reached out to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for an update on the status of that case. We’re waiting for a response.

A spokesperson for the agency said the investigation is now in the hands of US Fish and Wildlife.

Score Guide:

100-90 = A (Very Good to Acceptable)

89-80 = B (Acceptable to Marginal)

79 or lower = C (Marginal to Poor)

*Metro Health indicates that scores of 69 or lower are failing scores

Other scores from this week of inspections:

Sizzling Wok, 100

10222 Huebner Rd


Subway #51416, 100

1315 S. St Mary’s


Whataburger #749, 100

18330 Blanco Rd


Circle K #2741003, 100

8355 Eckhert Rd


Domino’s Pizza, 100

9714 Potranco Rd


Bar Three Twenty One, 99

321 N. Main Ave


Bill Miller BBQ #20, 98

1004 San Pedro Ave


House of Flavor Mexican Grill, 97

7530 Bandera Rd


Chef’s Table Mediterranean Grill, 96

1546 Babcock Rd


Big Dan’s Que N Mo #19, 95

427 Lombrano St


Huhot Mongolian Grill, 94

6626 W LOOP N 1604


Restaurant Claudine, 93

517 E. Grayson St


Taco La Gardenia-Bakery, 92

1805 N. Pine St


El Molino Restaurant, 91

1703 IH 35 N


Backyard on Broadway, 90

2411 Broadway

Want to know who has good scores and who doesn’t? KSAT 12 has a new tool for that.

Just click this link, and it will take you to a new mapping tool we have showing the recent scores for San Antonio food businesses.

The reports go back six months and are frequently updated.

You can catch Tim’s BKD reports Thursdays on the Nightbeat.


Watch other Behind the Kitchen Door stories here

Behind the Kitchen Door image. (KSAT)

About the Authors

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.

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