Family recipes are often closely guarded secrets; however, the recipes at family owned and operated Vietnamese restaurant Rolls-N-Bowls (605 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-309-0519; www.rollsnbowlsnola.com) serve as a living cookbook.
"[Rolls-N-Bowls] mostly revolves around my mother-in-law, [Sam Vu] — making sure we keep her recipes, are able to pass down her cooking and that the family continues doing it," says owner Ricky Phan.
A fixture in the restaurant business for more than 30 years and former owner of two West Bank restaurants, matriarch Vu inspired her children to open Rolls-N-Bowls last year. Rolls-N-Bowls offers quick, authentic Vietnamese cuisine in a casual atmosphere.
"We wanted to do Vietnamese food, but [offer] quicker service," Phan says. "Instead of having a big Vietnamese menu, we trimmed [it] down ... to the most popular items, and we pieced it together so we can do it really quick and get it out."
Customers pass square white tables and tall orange bar stools as they cross the restaurant to order from a luminescent menu board on the wall over the register. The menu features Vu's versions of Vietnamese staples like noodle bowls, rice plates, pho, bubble tea and more. The menu also offers a variety of vegetarian options. Phan says spring rolls are the most popular item.
"We specialize in our spring rolls," he says. "We have probably almost a dozen different types, from our shrimp and avocado spring rolls to our samba rolls."
Phan says Rolls-N-Bowls' location helps the restaurant thrive because it brings a practical casual dining option to a part of Metairie that lacked Vietnamese cuisine choices. He also attributes the success of Rolls-N-Bowls to its convenience.
"It's healthy and fast," Phan says. "If you're trying to grab a quick bite ... you can be in and out in about 30 minutes, even when we're packed ... We do a lot of takeout and [the restaurant] is really packed during lunch time."
While Phan is proud of the restaurant's success, he says the business prioritizes its fam- ily relationships.
"The whole family's involved," Phan says. "It's not so much about the money. It's more about having family that we can pass [the restaurant] along to, the recipes, and having everybody try the food."