If there is anyone I can blame my Vietnamese food addiction on, it would have to be Leigh Landeche. We started working together what seems like ages ago out of a small, mostly empty office on Hickory Avenue when NewOrleans.com was owned by very different management. Anyhow, Leigh and I would work on the site all morning and then head out into the wilds of Harahan in search of an affordable, yet delicious lunch. It was Leigh who suggested we try a tiny Vietnamese restaurant called Kim Anhs Noodle House on Jefferson Highway for my very first bowl of pho. Yes, I loved it. Perhaps not as much as Leigh who could eat it everyday, at every meal, for the rest of his life, but I still loved it nonetheless.
Recently, I tried a fairly new Vietnamese restaurant on Magazine Street called “Magasin,” which is actually the French word for “shop” or “store” and I never really quite got the connection other than it sounding like a fancy way to say magazine. Regardless. my buddy Anne, John and I all decided to give it a go.
When we walked into the bright, white dining area, we saw that the restaurant was already packed. Luckily enough, we were able to score the last available table that was conveniently near a window. After a lengthy perusal of the menu, we finally placed our (massive) order and settled down to wait.
The first to arrive was a couple Goi Cuon or Spring Rolls, Chinese Sausage & Eggs and Shiitake Mushroom. Although both tasted nice and were stuffed with plenty of vermicelli and veggies, the main ingredients seem to be sadly lacking considering the price ($4 for 2 rolls) , though that still didn’t stop us from dipping them in lots of peanut sauce and making them disappear.
Next, Anne and I decided to split a bahn mi while John ordered a whole one for himself. John got the Pork Roll & Pate while Anne and I chose the “deli special” which happened to be Grilled Pork, Pork Belly & Pork Pate. Both sandwiches were tasty, served on the delicious, local Don Phuong Vietnamese po-boy bread, but even after all this, we were still hungry.
For our “main dish” we all ordered soup. John got the Pho Oxtail, Anne selected the Pho Filet Mignon and I chose the Wonton Noodle Soup. The dishes arrived one-by-one, the great ceramic bowls filled with steaming liquid set before us on a platter that included plenty of fresh herbs and veggies like bean sprouts, cilantro, sliced lime, basil and jalapeno. I really enjoyed the tastes of broth I stole from both Anne and John’s dishes, a rich beefy broth with earthy, exotic spices like cinnamon and star anise. My soup was a bit different though, it seemed to have the same beefy broth, but it was drastically changed by the addition of tomato. Besides strips of pork and fat, pork-filled won tons, my soup also had egg noodles, though I would have preferred the rice noodles that the menu detailed.
When we finished our soup, we all sat around breathing heavily, suddenly feeling much more sated than we expected. We rolled out of the restaurant, grinning from ear to ear, discussing the next time we could stop in and try some of the other items on the menu as their com dishes sounded (and looked) amazing. I betcha Leigh would’ve loved it…