by Ian McNulty
A new café from a familiar name in the local landscape of Vietnamese restaurants is taking shape along Airline Drive in Metairie.
Dave Nguyen of Pho Orchid plans to open his Pho Orchid Express (1401 Airline Dr., phone n.a.) later this summer. Its menu will be shorter but also a bit more modern than the sprawling list at the original restaurant, with a focus on banh mi, soup, spring rolls and “Orchid tacos,” which represent another example of the growing use of steamed buns filled like tacos or sandwiches.
“We want it to reflect more of the modern trends,” says restaurant spokeswoman Le Thu Nguyen. “Pho Orchid has a lot of dishes that are served family style, but here it will be more about single servings and quicker meals.”
The look of Pho Orchid Express will be different too. The interior is now being configured so that diners can watch cooks assemble spring rolls and other items in the kitchen, and customers will order at a counter using touch-screen devices.
Outside, the discerning local diner may recognize remnants of the Flintstones-esque lava rock façade on the building, a tell-tale sign that this address had been a Popeyes location during the architectural golden age of that chicken chain. It was later the short-lived Tiger Diner, whose main claim to fame was a LSU color scheme. It was most recently a diner called Café Zizzi.
Nguyen opened the original Pho Orchid in 2009 near the Clearview Mall.
3117 Houma Blvd., (504) 457-4188
Pho Orchid Express
1401 Airline Dr., phone n.a.