by Ian McNulty
The new pan-Asian restaurant Lucky Rooster opens this evening in the CBD with an inexpensive menu that looks like a mix between a noodle house, a dim sum parlor and a banh mi joint combined in one modern package.
Joe Briand, the restaurant’s general manager and wine director, describes the approach as a “greatest hits” of casual dishes and street food from a wide sweep of Asian cuisines, from Korean-style fried chicken and ramen noodle soups to pork and shrimp dumplings and Mandarin-style chicken salad. The line-up is more than just diverse, though, since chef Neal Swidler gives all of these standards his own interpretation.
One of the banh mi sandwiches is filled with “melting goujajang-chile glazed pork, crispy shallot rings and green papaya slaw,” for instance, and another has “Szechuan steak au poivre with shiitake mushroom jam.” There’s a list of Chinese steamed buns, or bao, stuffed with grilled shrimp or pulled beef short rib and one of the ramen soups is chock full of grilled pork ribs, honey pork belly and Szechuan sausage. There’s a meatless option for every category on the menu, like bao with Chinese black beans and eggplant relish and an udon noodle soup with tea-smoked tofu and mushrooms. Even the fortune cookies are described as “house made, astrologically correct, super sized, crispy, classic, obtuse poetry included.” Most menu items are under $10.
The restaurant is new, but the team behind it is made of well-known pros from the local restaurant business. Swidler had been chef de cuisine at Emeril’s Delmonico before starting his own chef catering business and his Popstars Icicle Treats, which makes gourmet popsicles (they’re on the Lucky Rooster menu too). Briand previously held the same dual role of general manager/wine director at Herbsaint. And their partner, Warren Chapoton, is a co-owner of the Slice Pizzeria and Juan’s Flying Burrito restaurants.
Briand has assembled a wine list with a focus on the crisp white wines of Germany, Austria and France’s Alsace region, among other choices, and Christine Jeanine Nielsen is charge of the cocktail list, which includes house-made sodas. Order them “tiger style” and the bar will add booze.
Lucky Rooster is part of a newly-redeveloped building in the address that was previously the old-school diner Gregory & Pete’s. Don’t come looking for an imperial banquet room, but rather a 15-seat bar and a communal table among the seating options in a room with large windows facing Baronne Street. The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations, but Briand says it’s also geared toward quick service and casual meals built on snacks.
For its first week, Lucky Rooster will serve dinner only, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Lunch begins next Tuesday, June 11, and the regular schedule will be lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
515 Baronne St., (504) 529-5825