Vietnamese restaurants are hardly uncommon in New Orleans. Other than poor boys places or fast food outlets, there are probably more Vietnamese joints than any other kind of restaurant. That said, there are certain parts of the city where the cuisine has not been available. The CBD and Old Metairie were two, but that's changed recently.
Rolls N Bowls opened at 605 Metairie Road a couple of months ago, with a fairly basic menu of spring rolls, pho and other soups, vermicelli noodle bowls, banh mi sandwiches and dishes served over steamed rice. The restaurant is located in a modest strip mall near the railroad crossing in what passes as the commercial center of Old Metairie. It's not a large space, but it's bright and has seating for around 30. In addition to the more standard offerings you'd expect from any Vietnamese menu, Rolls N Bowls has a few specialty spring rolls, including vegetarian options filled with shiitake mushrooms or avocado and basil. There are vegetarian soups as well, but the restaurant also serves the spicy beef stew known as Bo Kho over either bread or with noodles. The bread, also used for banh mi sandwiches, comes from the New Orleans East Vietnamese bakery Dong Phuong.
There are specials from time to time as well, such as the green papaya salad on the board when I visited recently. Bubble teas and Vietnamese coffee are also on offer. Call 309-0519 to find out more about the place or to place a takeout order.
Downtown saw the opening of Viet Orleans Bistro on May 7. The restaurant, at 300 Baronne St., has a somewhat more extensive menu than Rolls N Bowls which fits with the significantly larger space the restaurant occupies. In addition to spring rolls stuffed with shrimp, grilled chicken, pork or tofu, the restaurant offers fried chicken wings, grilled skewers of chicken or beef and steamed or fried pork, chicken and vegetable dumplings. Banh mi include grilled or fried shrimp, fried fish and grilled pork, beef and chicken versions. Pho comes with the usual beef cuts – rare eye of round, flank, brisket and meatballs or a combination thereof; and there's also a seafood version with fish balls and shrimp. Rice and vermicelli noodle dishes are similarly available with some combination of grilled pork, beef, shrimp and tofu. The restaurant also offers party trays of its appetizers, salads and fried rice, and the rolls, and like Rolls N Bowls features bubble teas, here from a separate counter that also sells ice cream. Viet Orleans Bistro is currently waiting on a liquor license, which will make the long bar that dominates one side of the dining room good for more than a place to wait for takeout. Call 333-6917 to find out more.