New Orleans is known for a lot of things, namely its melting pot of cultures and cuisines from all over the world. Outsiders are familiar with the creole and cajun history of the American city, but The Big Easy’s Asian food culture seems to fly under the radar. Although the cuisines (Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese) aren’t typical New Orleans cuisines, they have carved out a place for themselves at the big kids table of Nola food.
After the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese were looking for a fresh start in a new place, and found Nola’s warm climate and proximity to water (and the fresh seafood that came with it) reason to call Louisiana home. Since then the Vietnamese population has flourished to around 14,000 people who own tons of local businesses and restaurants, all of which have been embraced by the New Orleans community.
Although Vietnamese is one of the more prominent foreign cultures melded into New Orleans today, back in the late 1800s there were not one but two Chinatowns in the New Orleans area. Around that time around 1,600 Chinese were brought to Louisiana from California and China to work the sugar fields. Once they settled, they began to open their own groceries and markets, establishing a community of their own in a city they didn’t know.
Although the Chinatowns in New Orleans have ceased to exist, their delicious food culture remains a strong influence in the city. Likewise, there is an abundance of fresh, authentic Japanese food to write home about in Nola. (Thank goodness sushi found its way to America.)
If you’re looking for some incredibly delicious Chinese food beyond your average egg drop soup and moo-shu-pork, Red’s Chinese is the place to go. The food is cooked with some of the most interesting, mind blowing flavors in the city and that’s all not to mention it boasts a super hip and fun atmosphere.
There’s honestly nothing on the menu I wouldn’t order again. The portions are huge and great for family style sharing, so grab a few friends and pig out (it’s worth it).
Must Try: General’s Chicken, Hawaiian Fried Rice
For a more traditional (or should I say Americanized) Chinese food experience, Royal China is the place to go. It’s got everything you’d expect from a typical Chinese restaurant, like aquariums and Chinese lanterns, not to mention the best hot and sour soup around and an ever-fabulous egg roll. They’re one of the only places in the city to serve Dim Sum and they do a bang-up job.
Must Try: Hot and Sour Soup, Dim Sum, Shrimp Panfried Dumplings
Kyoto—arguably the most talked about sushi restaurant in the city—is well loved by pretty much everyone who has ever stepped inside. From classic sushi rolls to (plenty) unique, original recipes, you really can’t make a bad menu decision. The fish is always fresh, as are the flavors.
If you feel like mixing it up from your average roll order, go for a Poké salad (if you’re in the mood fore a massive mountain of fresh squid) or a seaweed salad topped with incredible fresh fish and eel sauce. What more could you ask for?
Must Try: Sara Roll, Desiree Roll, Poké Salad, Slow-ya-Roll
Mikimoto is one of the best sushi restaurants in Nola not only because of their ridiculously good, extremely affordable food, but also because THEY DELIVER. The only thing better than fresh AF sushi is having it delivered to your door. The fish is never off and the complimentary noodle salad they give you when you sit down is pretty great too.
Must Try: Chirashi Sushi, Noodle Salad, South Carrollton Roll
For the most authentic and downright best Vietnamese food in the Greater New Orleans area, look no further than Tan Dinh. With a ridiculously long menu full of options for whatever you could possibly be in the mood for, Tan Dinh is the place to be.
Whether you’re looking for a delicious Vietnamese po-boy (bahn mi), some chicken soup (pho), or a refreshing cold noodle bowl (vermicelli), they have it all and they do it all to perfection. Not to mention they have the BEST garlic fried chicken wings ever, and portions are insanely large (you’ll have plenty to take home for tomorrow’s lunch).
Must Try: Cahn Ga Chein Bo (crispy chicken wings), Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls, Chicken Pho
For people who aren’t all that familiar with Vietnamese cuisine but want to see what it’s all about, Magasin is the place for you. With a simple menu that has all of the classics you could ever want to try —all packed full of flavor—it’s a great place to introduce yourself to Vietnamese. Fresh ingredients, well seasoned meat, and fabulous sauces make every last dish absolutely delicious.
Must Try: Steamed Pork Bun, Lemongrass Chicken Rice Plate, Pho Filet Mignon