Ba Chi Canteen (7900 Maple St., 504-373-5628) is now open near the Uptown universities with a menu that goes far off the beaten path for casual Vietnamese eateries. Its departure from the standards seems timely, because the ranks of Vietnamese noodle shops around New Orleans keep growing, with at least three new examples now operating or coming soon around the city.
Ba Chi Canteen has a notable pedigree. It's run by Phat Vu and Quinn Nguyen, who are familiar faces from Tan Dinh (1705 Lafayette St., 504-361-8008), a stalwart West Bank Vietnamese restaurant that lured New Orleanians over the bridge long before the pho options spread 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 tacos. They cost $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). Ba Chi Canteen serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
A few blocks away, Pho Bistreaux (1200 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-304-8334) is expected to open this week inside a former bank branch that has housed a number of eateries in recent years. Pho Bistreaux will offer table service and a menu of Vietnamese standards plus a few twists, such as banh mi sandwiches rendered as sliders.
In the CBD, a former convenience store, long-shuttered after a fire, is slated to open this week as Viet Orleans Bistro (300 Baronne St., 504-333-6917). In what seems like a smart accommodation for the neighborhood, the menu includes party platters of spring rolls, egg rolls and other appetizers for catering.
And in Old Metairie, Rolls N Bowls (605 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-309-0519; www.facebook.com/rollsandbowls), is now open. The menu includes the usual pho, bun and banh mi and adds a few more vegetarian options than usual, plus bubble teas.