We were starving. It was late on a Saturday afternoon and the two of us were the only people in Hong Minh (Hong Minh, 2101 8th St., Harvey, 592.7316, hongminhharvey.com) save for three generations of the extended Vietnamese-Chinese family who own the unassuming place and their children who were playing quietly by the cash register next to the whole roasted ducks.
Located in an old strip mall behind a Best Buy, the exterior of Hong Minh does not impress but I suspect this place is packed with regulars who look nothing like my white bread self on weekend evenings.
We ordered half of the menu. Our server gave us the side-eye and soon the entire family disappeared into the kitchen and pots started clanging. Each beautifully plated dish arrived as soon as it left the wok and the children tried not to stare as we did out best to wipe out every delicious, expertly executed morsel: Roasted pork with shatter crisp skin kissed with Chinese five spice; crispy salt and pepper chicken wings; Chinese-style shrimp friend rice; crisp pan-fried noodles heaped with shrimp, mussels, crab, and squid in a light white sauce; fresh, translucent spring rolls filled with shrimp and roasted pork; a dish of garden fresh vegetables sautéed with silken tofu; and a large bowl of wonton noodle soup, the wontons themselves origami-like pillows that burst forth a savory broth at the slightest bite.
We left with to-go containers heaped with enough to share for days. As I paid the $57.11 bill for this fresh, deftly prepared meal the wise man behind the counter advised that I ask about the off menu specialties the next time I come back. This just cannot happen soon enough.
Go there. It's BYOB so prepare for that, too. If you go for lunch, specials go for around $7.
Though I have yet to check it out Marie's Kitchen (2483 Burgundy St. , 504.267.5869, mariesbarandkitchen.com) is at the top of my hit list for this weekend. Can't wait. Located in the back of Marie's Bar and open from Friday-Sunday 5p.m. - midnight, Marie's serves up from-scratch bar food made by Chef Tres Barnard, a man straight out of Clarksdale who knows killer Southern food and does not give a damn about calories. Think fried dill pickle nachos with saved Manchego cheese, ham hock, comeback sauce, green onions. That's one explosive party in your mouth for nine bucks. Chef Tres' "Famous" mac and cheese with green onions and ham sounds like a good use of $5, as does Methodist Crack—house-made candy bar with graham cracker, pecan and caramel.
I will be signing copies of my cookbooks and passing a good time on Saturday at SoFab (1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 569.0405, southernfood.org) in connection with the SoFab Fish Fry from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Join me! Twenty-five bucks (free for kids under 14) will get you into the museum to enjoy heaping helpings of fried Mississippi farm raised catfish with hushpuppies, French fries, cole slaw and Bunny bread for making sandwiches; bowls of my gumbo made with dark roux, chicken and Wayne Jacob's Smokehouse andouille; and Luzianne iced tea, and cocktails from Cathead and Southern Prohibition. We will have hands-on activities and cooking demonstrations.
When I finish up at the museum I am headed to the Treme/7th Ward Arts and Culture Festival (treme7thwardcd.org). The free celebration, Saturday and Sunday, takes place all over the neighborhood. Now in its 5th year, the festival celebrates one of the nations’ most culturally and historically significant neighborhoods. Look out for performances by Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers, Shannon Powell, Neisha Ruffins, Babydolls Sisterhood, Treme Brass Band and many more. Amazing grub from Lamar’s Fried Chicken, Miss Linda the Yakmein Lady, Neville’s Creole Cuisine and many more. The Babydoll Bar Crawl and the Treme and 7th Ward Historic Tours each cost $40 and lead participants to a number of local hangouts and historic sites like Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge, Bullet’s Sports Bar, and St. Augustine Catholic Church.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.