by Ian McNulty
Whether you’re hungry for traditional Vietnamese noodle shop fare or interested in tasting something a little different from a Vietnamese kitchen, it looks like a pair of Uptown restaurants now in the works should have you covered.
Magasin Vietnamese Café is taking shape at 4201 Magazine St., where it will serve what its owner describes as “home-style family cooking” combined with French influences, plus an unusually large array of fresh spring rolls. Meanwhile, about a mile and a half away at 2005 Magazine St., a new eatery called Pho Noi Viet will serve popular staples like pho, banh mi sandwiches, bun noodle salads and, of course, more spring rolls.
These are independent ventures, and each is tentatively slated to open sometime next month.
Magasin, located in the former corner store called Monica’s Grocery, takes its name from the French word for store. It’s being developed by Kim Nguyen, a New Orleans native and third-generation restaurateur whose family ran Chinese restaurants here in the years before Hurricane Katrina. She’s now based in Houston where she has the popular Vietnamese restaurant Café TH (formerly Thiem Hung) and Café TH Express, a take-out joint.
For Magasin, which will be her restaurant debut back in her hometown, she’s taking a different approach.
“I’m stepping a little bit away from the traditional here and bringing in more French influences, though there will still be fundamental (dishes) that people want too,” Nguyen says.
One particular specialty will be a roster of spring rolls running to some 15 varieties and prepared to order, in the style of sushi bar service. Nguyen says to look for entrees like braised pork and a selection of stews. Magasin will also have a full bar.
The restaurant design, the work of Gin Braverman at gindesigns, seeks to transform the once rundown corner property into a contemporary restaurant. There will be a patio, windows are being designed to flip up to open the space in nice weather and customers will be able to sit outside and eat at specially-designed counter top-style windowsills.
Meanwhile, renovation work is also underway at Pho Noi Viet, a family-run restaurant from Kim and Vinh Vu. While this will be the couple’s first restaurant Kim Vu’s cooking may already be familiar to those who have sipped late-night pho down in the Marigny.
Last year, Vu helped open Pho King, a Vietnamese restaurant that leased the kitchen space inside the Lost Love Lounge and was run by Ariana Ybarra. Pho King had replaced the short-lived Marigny Pho inside that bar, though Pho King itself was later taken over by the Lost Love Lounge owners, who now simply call it “the Vietnamese Kitchen at the Lost Love Lounge.”
Vinh Vu explains that the plan for Pho Noi Viet came about after he and his wife saw how popular Vietnamese food had become around New Orleans.
“We want to have our own place and really show our cooking,” he said.
Magasin Vietnamese Cafe
4201 Magazine St., phone n.a.
Pho Noi Viet
2005 Magazine St., phone n.a.