Feb 12, 201408:09 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
How Vietnamese Food Changed My Life
New Orleans' Vietnamese food has cured this picky eater.
I used to be a really picky eater when I was younger. It was bad. I often asked for a grilled cheese at McDonald's. I sometimes peeled cheese off of pizza. One year I ate Cheerios on Thanksgiving. I was a weird kid.
Once I got to college, I started eating more like a normal person, but I was still hesitant to try anything I considered “exotic,” like Thai or Indian food. Even after graduating from college, I was still a little bit picky. I liked what I liked and I didn't try new foods very often.
But then I moved to New Orleans.
New Orleans has cured me of my picky eating ways. Everything is good here, so I am no longer nervous about trying foods I've never tried before. I eat everything and I have yet to have a bad experience.
And while I thought I would love crawfish etoufee and gumbo the most, I have found one of my favorite parts of eating in New Orleans is Vietnamese food. The abundance of Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans has made me a more adventurous eater. Before moving here, I was always a little nervous about trying food I knew nothing about, but New Orleans' great restaurants have forced me to be more adventurous.
Take this weekend, for example. Chris and I drove out to eastern New Orleans because we heard that's where the authentic Vietnamese food is. I had read lots of good things about the Dong Phuong Bakery, so that's where we headed. Once we got there, we learned that the restaurant section was closed for a wedding, but the cashier recommended a place down the road.
We found the suggested restaurant, Ba Mien, in a strip mall. I was a little nervous about eating there because I had never heard of the place, but Chris and I were starving so we went in. I'm really glad I did because it was great. Our server was super friendly and the food was fantastic. I'm not a food critic, but both Chris and I were happy with our dishes and we left eastern New Orleans stuffed and satisfied. I would definitely recommend Ba Mien to every fan of Vietnamese food, and I hope to go back some time soon.
I'm so glad New Orleans introduced me to Vietnamese food. Living in a city that values its restaurants and food made me force myself to try more interesting things. Now I try everything because I don't want to miss out on a potential favorite food. Vietnamese food is the perfect example of that: I love pho and vermicelli and spring rolls, and I don't think I would have discovered these foods without New Orleans.
If you're looking for some Vietnamese food inspiration, I've included my five favorite places below. There are lots of new Vietnamese places I want to try soon, such as Namese and Mopho, but these are my five go-to places at the moment:
Ba Chi Canteen
This place was chosen as the Vietnamese Restaurant of the Year by New Orleans Magazine and I understand why. I'm a fan of the egg rolls and Chris loves the vermicelli bowl with pork.
I love the location of this restaurant because it's on the corner of Magazine and Milan Streets. The restaurant has outdoor seating, so it's fun to watch the excitement of Magazine Street while you eat.
Like I said earlier, I love this place. Try it if you haven't been there already.
Rolls N Bowls
It was the catchy title that brought me to this place but I've gone back a couple of times. I really like the Pho Shrimp. An added bonus is Rolls N Bowls is next to Hemline, so you can shop after you eat!
I really like the Metairie location of this restaurant, but according to Facebook, there is now an Uptown location at 2135 St. Charles Ave. I can't wait to try it because Pho Orchid was one of the first Vietnamese places I tried in New Orleans, so it has a special place in my heart.