HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eastern Gem

Over the past week I've been trying to do some exploring into the large Vietnamese community here in New Orleans. Concentrated in the eastern areas of the city, the Vietnamese were invited here by the Catholic church after the war, and in the following decades they established themselves as one of the city's largest minorities. The diversity of the New Orleans restaurant scene has exploded over the past year, and Vietnamese food has played a large part in this, with several restaurants opening in the city itself. Previously most eateries were either out east or on the West Bank of the Mississippi River.

Though Vietnamese cuisine is making its way into the city, perhaps the most famous restaurant in the area is still in the east: Dong Phuong, which is half bakery, half restaurant. Many believe that Dong Phuong has the best French bread in a city known for great French bread, and some of the area's leading chefs buy bread and other ingredients there. I took a trip out to the bakery earlier this week and found a number of familiar goodies, such as banh bao:
And sweets infused with fruit:
 Meat pies and other street-food type dishes are also available, but without a doubt the most popular items are the banh mi, or Vietnamese po-boys, as they are known here. 16 different options are available, including Chinese pork, Vietnamese sausage, French cold cuts, and vegetarian, quickly prepared by a couple of petite, middle-aged Vietnamese women. Costing roughly $3.50, these sandwiches are a great deal for the U.S. (though outrageously expensive for Vietnam standards) and are packed with cucumbers, diced carrots, cilantro, and a great mustard-like sauce. The banh mi from Dong Phuong are easily the best I've ever had, and they are well worth the drive out east.

I've never eaten in the sit-down restaurant section of Dong Phuong, but I hear it's just as good. Dong Phuong is located at 14207 Chef Menteur, within view of NASA Michoud, and it is closed on Sundays and Tuesdays.


  1. We always stop by Đông Phương every time we make a trip down to New Orleans. Awesome bánh mì and other baked goods (don't forget the buy 10 banh mi get 1 free deal). Dishes from the menu are great, too.