A Whole New World: Tân Định

I’m pretty sure I’ve admitted this before, but I have been a bad, bad food writer. If I truly wanted to explore all the eats in New Orleans, I would’ve spent a lot more time in her burbs; Metairie, Kenner, Arabi, Chalmette, and yes, everything over here on the Westbank (ie. Algiers, Gretna, Harvey, Marrero, Terrytown, Westwego, etc.). In all honesty, I have stretched the city limits from time to time, but now that I live over here on the other side of the river, I realized I barely scratched the surface. It seems I have a lot of work to do!

About a week ago, John and I were going to try a Filipino spot nearby, but they were closed and it seems their hours on social are incorrect (I’ll figure it out eventually!). At any rate, we decided to visit a classic, almost brand new to us, but a beloved, well-known spot for longtime denizens of Gretna — Tân Định.

I say “almost” because we have enjoyed Ba Chi Canteen many times, the spin-off opened by the Tân Định family’s progeny on Maple Street. It was interesting to see how they compared.

Tân Định is located on Lafayette Street in an old strip mall. While the decor feels extremely old-school, the restaurant was busy, the diners were happy and the servers/cooks seemed to know everyone who walked through the door, well, except for us. Although that certainly didn’t stop them from treating us like family.

I got a steamed rice dish with chargrilled pork, fresh veggies and a fried egg, while John opted for a sweet, crispy rice place with lemongrass pork skewers and a side of kimchi. But, before all of this, I had to try an order of cha gio (pork egg rolls) to compare them with Ba Chi’s version. Both are excellent, but I have to admit I prefer Ba Chi Canteen’s interpretation as they are much larger. Is more always better? Not necessarily, but in this case, I think it is.

Both of our entrees were not only fantastic (what is it about Vietnamese chargrilled pork?), but it was a massive amount of food. We ended up taking home half of it! Now I know I’ve barely dipped my toes into the river of eateries on the Westbank, but I am more than ready to take the plunge!

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