Magasin Café opened in 2012 as part of a wave of Vietnamese eateries bringing the staples of pho, spring rolls and banh mi to different parts of New Orleans.
Now proprietress Kim Nguyen has a second rendition of Magasin in the CBD, and this one is aimed at showing a different side of the cuisine.
Magasin Kitchen (611 O’Keefe Ave.) serves the noodle shop standards, but also adds more specialty dishes that Nguyen described as being closer to Vietnamese home style cooking.
“Pho is so popular know, I feel like people know it and it’s just a matter of going wherever they like it best,” said Nguyen. “But now we want to show a different style of Vietnamese food, more of the way we eat at home.”
On the Magasin Kitchen menu this takes the shape of stir-fries finished at the table, curries, congee with salted pork and fermented egg and a variety of Vietnamese fried rice dishes, which have similarities to the Korean crunchy rice dish bibimbap.
“With our fried rice, it cooks while you eat it,” she said. “So the dish changes through the meal.”
The Magasin Kitchen menu has pho (including a vegan version), bun noodle bowls, nine varieties of spring rolls and banh mi with traditional fillings and some different takes, like steak and eggs or roasted eggplant.
Given the CBD location, Nguyen said Magasin Kitchen was designed for fast meals at lunch. But within the next few weeks, the restaurant should also add its bar (it’s BYOB for now). With it will come a special menu of bar snacks, served after 7 p.m., to encourage more social visits in the evenings or en route to events at nearby downtown venues. This forthcoming bar snack menu will have dishes like curried edamame, pork skewers, sizzling squid and lettuce wraps.
Magasin Kitchen is the latest eatery for the South Market District, a complex of ground-floor retail and multi-story residential units that continue to rise on what had long been parking lots.
Nguyen is a New Orleans native whose family ran a number of Chinese-style restaurants in the city before Hurricane Katrina. She ran her own Vietnamese eateries in Houston before opening Magasin Cafe (4201 Magazine St., 504-896-7611 ) back in her hometown. Last year, she opened a juice bar called the Pressery (3005 Magazine St., 504-304-7791).
Magasin Kitchen shares the block with the Besh Restaurant Group bakery and cafe Willa Jean, an expansion of the Company Burger and a location from the chain Blaze Pizza. A deli called Part & Parcel from chef Phillip Lopez of Root and Root Squared is slated to open on the block sometime this spring.
611 O’Keefe Ave.
11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Bar and bar snack menu to come later in January
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.