MoPho Nola (New Orleans, USA)

There have been many new restaurants that have opened up in New Orleans since I last lived there. One of the latest talked about place is MoPho located in my old n’hood of Mid City/City Park. It has brought life to what was once a desolate strip mall type area with a shabby burger king and a few other stores that service the college across the street. MoPho is a beautiful, hip new modern-asian style restaurant serving your traditional vietnamese phos along with rice bowls and appetizers. (see Menu)


We started off with not 1 but 2 orders of the Crispy Chicken wings tossed in a lemongrass/ginger sauce. Result: Perfection. It was so good I was tempted to order more and forget about my main dish. There was also an order of Fried Shrimp which were good but nothing like the chicken wings. An order of handmade fresh spring rolls were also ordered and having recently perfected shrimp rolls in my cooking class I was not overly impressed by the roll. It was falling apart and the noodles too thick for my liking.


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For our main dishes the three of us ordered the rice/noodle bowls. You have the option of picking your main ingredients: rice or noodles and the protein of choice. We had two beef cheeks and one grilled jumbo shrimp. At this point, I had already filled up on a full serving of the chicken but had no choice than to finish what was in front of me. The bowl was fresh and flavorful however, I didn’t particularly enjoy the beef cheeks which were overly gelatinous.  33-IMG_4723

MoPho reminded me a bit of NOLA’s version of  the Momofoku restaurants in the East Village, NYC. Same types of offerings and flavors and definitely a few hipster waiters and waitresses. Overall, I think it is a great addition to the New Orleans food scene offering something completely different than anything else you will find in NOLA. It is a modern take on Vietnamese food and the restaurant ambiance and food are both great reasons to check out this place if you have not yet done so.


MoPho on Urbanspoon

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Will cross over the bridge for a good Pho (New Orleans)

It is no secret that New Orleans is a foodie haven. With all that gumbo, jambalaya and po boys there is hardly any room left for other types of cuisines. But after having tasted all that Cajun and creole food, you, like me might miss the variety. Luckily, there is another secret for us foodies: Vietnamese Food. If you are hungry for some pho, spring rolls or rice vermicelli then all you need to do is cross the bridge over to Gretna in the West Bank. Known for its large Vietnamese community and other immigrant communities there is some great food to be found on this side of the Mississippi. The Count took me here the first day I got into town due to his deep love for this place (rumor has it he held his birthday dinners here 3 years in a row). Perhaps not the most ‘New Orleans’ experience but for those of us craving a little something  different, then this restaurant is a treat, not to mention delicious.
I can attest to the authenticity of their dishes given that I recently returned from a foodie-centric trip to Vietnam (see posts). I’d lie if I said that I have tried everything on the menu given the vast range of options, but one thing is for sure: the grilled quail with lemon dipping sauce is always on our order.
The bbq short ribs served with spicy kimchi and rice is a delight, as is the chicken pho ga served with a side dish of fresh herbs and the shrimp rice roll. You can polish off your meal with a nice refreshing bubble tea shake.

Tan Dinh is located at 1705 Lafayette St # A, Gretna, Louisiana
Telephone: (504) 361-8008

Tan Dinh on Urbanspoon
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The Last Great Taste of Hoi An Food Tour (Hoi An, Vietnam)

Hoi An is a magical place in Vietnam. Full of color and beauty. The cuisine is also one of the best we tasted on our journey through Vietnam.  With more than 100 restaurants catering for tourists, there were so many restaurants to choose from and within the restaurants so many dishes to interpret. Most offer some Vietnamese dishes including the local specialties of White Rose, Fried Wontons, Cao Lau and Mi Quang along with some house variations of Vietnamese food.

The best way to learn more about Hoi An delicacies was through a food tour of which there were a handful. After a lot of research over the internet through tripadvisor and other travel review sites, we settled for one led by an old Australian couple who have resettled in Hoi An (something I wish I could do). The tour is called, The Last Great Taste of Hoi An and is highly recommended (although it is quite expensive for Vietnamese standards).

We started our walking tour visiting the colorful local Tan An Markets where we met and chat with stall holders about their food. Our walk then continued along both high streets and back streets, discovering out-of-the-way producers and street vendors making and selling a wide variety of exotic foods. Our final destination was a local restaurant where we enjoyed refreshments and tasted small samples of a wide selection of the local delicacies bought directly from the vendors – most of whom we saw or met on the tour.

Information for visitors:

Tour Times
7.30 am – 12.00am

Bookings Essential
Family Restaurant
108 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street
Hoi An Ancient Town
Telephone:  09053TASTE (0905 382 783)  or 0121 7621 693

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Dinner of Contrasts at Fire and Ice Restaurant- Old City (Philadelphia, USA)

I was invited to Fire and Ice to try their new menu created by Chef Chris Nguyen. Driving by to find the restaurant I saw a neon blue sign. My first thought was that it was surely a club with the same name not the restaurant I was searching for. My second thought was that I was going to eat bad bar food. By the end of the night, I had learned an important lesson: never judge a restaurant by it’s kitsch decor.


The friendly host at the front of the restaurant greeted us and walked us to our table lining against the cushioned white wall shining with dim blue lights across from the long bar. Loud hip hop music bumped through the cushioned walls and we learned that there was a private party in the back lounge area. The ambiance was definitely that of a club, and I’ve never dined in a club before. We were reassured by our server that it was a lounge and not a club, although I’m not sure how to differentiate between the two. The neon blue lights definitely gave it a club feel.


Our server was attentive and knowledgeable and really went out of his way to accommodate us. Shortly after our drinks were served, the Chef himself came out to tell us about the cuisine and his new menu which is his version of Asian comfort food that he grew up on. He was a very passionate man who through the new menu has implemented a fusion of Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and other Asian flavors. The result: delicious, innovative and unique.


I was really surprised at how good everything tasted. Every single dish we ordered was perfect and you could see the passion that was put into it. Others who were invited had the same prejudice only to be pleasantly shocked by the dining experience. However, in the end there is a steep contrast between the food served and the decor and ambiance of the restaurant/bar/lounge. Perhaps it compliments the theme of the restaurant, ‘fire’ and ‘ice’. The contrast between amazing cuisine, served in a neon blue disco setting.  I won’t be surprised to hear that he opened his own Asian restaurant in the future, because, Yes- he is that good!

The Food: 

We ordered a little bit of everything including the tom yum soup (Rice noodles and a spiced lemongrass broth), the Shaky Beef (wok seared sirloin, wilted watercress, pickled onions, peppered vinaigrette), Kim Chi Trilogy (cabbage with ginger, marinated crisp tofu and spicy radishes), char-grilled chicken satay served with spiced peanut sauce and a turmeric fried rice, the Char Sui Pork Loin (a deconstructed barbecue pork bun), Kal Bi lettuce wraps, pad Thai and phad kee mao (egg noodles, egg, julienne vegetables, red curry and chicken).


The tom yum soup was very authentic and tasted like many I had in Thailand- spicy yet simple.


The Shaky Beef was the chef’s take on the Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac, chopped steak served with watercress with the addition of fries and an egg.


I love kimchi and loved the Kim Chi Trilogy starter dish. The Chef pickles his own kimchi and and has created a lovely small dish as a result.


The chargrilled chicken satay reminded me of an Indonesian dish I had not so long ago. Generous portions of grilled chicken were served alongside a tasty turmeric fried rice and peanut sauce.


The winner had to be the Char Sui Pork Loin, a deconstructed pork bun which was so rich in flavors that we both wanted more (although we resisted the temptation).


Kal Bi lettuce wraps was the chef’s version of the Korean Kal Bi. I loved his rendition of this dish.


The shrimp pad Thai was one of the tastiest we’ve had to date. It was very well prepared and was completely authentic and close to those we tasted on the streets and restaurants of Thailand.


We also really enjoyed the  phad kee mao which was egg noodles mixed with red curry, chicken and vegetables. Hints of spice from the curry were in perfect harmony with the noodles and vegetables.
15-DSC_0182_3 For dessert we had the flan, chocolate cake and fried donuts. The fried donuts were served with a chocolate and orange sauce and were very good. 
17-DSC_0199_3 The Flan was my favorite. It was prepared well and served beautifully.  13-DSC_0176_3

The chocolate cake served in a raspberry sauce was also delicious and was the perfect end to an interesting evening.
While the decor of the restaurant, crowd and decor threw us off, we loved the food so much that we were raving to our friends all weekend and will definitely be back for more of chef Nguyen’s creations.

Fire and Ice Restaurant, Bar and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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