Monday, April 22, 2013

Ba Chi Canteen opens amid a pho joint pile up

Posted By on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 3:11 PM

ba chi canteen
  • IAN MCNULTY
  • Ba Chi Canteen is open in the former Figaro's spot on Maple Street.


Ba Chi Canteen (7900 Maple St., 504-373-5628) officially opened today near the Uptown universities with a menu that goes far off the beaten path for casual Vietnamese eateries. Its departure from the standards seems especially timely, because the ranks of Vietnamese noodle shops around New Orleans keep growing, with at least three new examples now open or coming soon around the city.

Ba Chi Canteen has a notable pedigree. Its run by Phat Vu and Quinn Nguyen, who are familiar faces from Tan Dinh (1705 Lafayette St., 504-361-8008), a stalwart of the West Bank Vietnamese restaurant scene that was luring New Orleanians over the bridge long before the pho options started spreading across Uptown.

This new venture has a few of the specialties that have distinguished Tan Dinh — roasted quail, garlic butter chicken wings, Korean short ribs and, of course, pho — but Ba Chi is also carving out its own niche with an assortment of steamed buns, or banh bao, that they’re calling “bacos," a pun on on tacos. They’re about $3 or $4 each and come stuffed with everything from curry chicken and teriyaki shrimp to Korean style steak and pork belly (the restaurant’s name means pork belly, and the stuff is everywhere across the menu).

The restaurant space, formerly the on-again, off-again Italian spot Figaro’s, has a relatively small dining room that transitions into a covered patio. Ba Chi Canteen serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

Just a few blocks away, Pho Bistreaux (1200 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-304-8334) should be opening in the next week. It’s the latest restaurant inside a former bank branch that has seen a curry shop, a deli and a short-lived “steamed burger” concept come and go these last few years. Pho Bistreaux will have table service and a menu of Vietnamese standards plus a few twists, like banh mi sandwiches rendered as sliders. It will serve lunch and dinner Monday and Wednesday through Saturday and lunch on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in the CBD, a one-time convenience store, long-shuttered after a fire, will soon open as Viet Orleans Bistro (300 Baronne St., 504-333-6917). This is a pretty big spot gunning for the downtown lunch crowd (there’s even a private meeting room). In what seems like a smart accommodation for the neighborhood the menu includes “party platters” of spring rolls, egg rolls and other appetizers for office catering. The projected opening date is April 30.

And in Old Metairie, just over the railroad tracks, there’s Rolls N Bowls (605 Metairie Rd., Metairie, 504-309-0519), which is now open. The menu follows the usual pho, bun, banh mi formula and adds a few more vegetarian options than usual, plus bubble teas. Rolls N Bowls serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

Are there more new additions to the pack? Probably. At this rate, there might be a new one right behind you.

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