Summer is coming, and New Orleanians are seeking lighter fare. Many are also seeking healthier choices. Magasin Café offers both. The restaurant is popular and has become a mainstay for both the Magazine foodie crowd and the health-conscious. Magasin Café has proven so successful in fact, that late last year, the small restaurant expanded, adding a second location, Magasin Kitchen, in the CBD.
The husband and wife team of Kim Nguyen and Luu Tran, along with Kim’s mother Luot Nguyen, create each of the restaurant’s dishes. It could be said that Magasin is one restaurant with three chefs, but endless ways to customize one’s meal. Kim Nguyen states that their goal was to “take the best of our Vietnamese roots, combined with countless hours of research, to create dishes that we grew up eating and introduce them to the rest of the world.” They have also created one of the few uptown restaurants where it’s easy to monitor nutritional content.
Magasin’s menu offers the well-known Vietnamese favorites of Bahn Mi, Pho, Bun, Spring Rolls, and Com. The most popular offering revolves around the traditional Vietnamese sandwich or Bahn Mi. The sandwiches are light, fresh, and garnished with julienned vegetables, cilantro, and jalapeños.
The bread is less traditional Vietnamese and more traditional New Orleans, in the form of a crisp French baguette. Fillings include Lemongrass Chicken, Pork Belly & Quail Eggs, Pork Roll & Pâté, Grilled Pork, Eggplant, and Garlic Fried Tofu. I’m a fan of the Eggplant.
Vegan or Chicken Curry dishes atop Brown Rice can be found along side Shrimp Fried Rice and Vietnamese Crepes. Appetizers of Potstickers or Steamed Pork Bun can be ordered with Panko Fried Shrimp to create an entrée-sized lunch. The crepes or Banh Xeo are crisp, flour washed, pan fried and filled with fresh bean sprouts, caramelized onions, grilled pork, fried shrimp, and lettuce.
There are Com or Rice dishes topped with meat, poultry, or vegetables of choice and finished with a perfectly prepared egg – or not. Eggrolls are optional additions to most entrees, as are Chinese sausages, and brown rice or brown rice noodles can be substituted on all dishes.
Steaming bowls of Pho, or Noodle Soups variations abound, include Filet Mignon, Oxtail, Brisket, Meatball, Chicken, and Vegan all in delicate broths topped with Cilantro, Rice Noodles, Basil, Bean Sprout, and Lime.
Vegans have numerous choices at Magasin Cafe and most every category offers a vegan selection. Diners seeking a healthy lite lunch can choose from a selection bearing the Ochsner Health System “Approved” Eat Fit Nola menu. Selections include several Vermicelli, Spring Roll, and Rice dishes with specific calorie, sodium, and sugar content.
If you’re in an indulgent mood, and not counting calories or sugar, I vote for the fried Crab Rangoon and the Café Sua Da or Vietnamese Tea made with condensed milk.
4210 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Monday through Saturday
11 a.m – 3:30 p.m.
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Kristine Froeba is a fourth generation Uptown girl whose varied background includes food and travel writing, celebrity ghost writing, public relations, social media management, fundraising, preservationist, reluctant tabloid hack, and litigation specialist. She describes herself as part foodie, part writer, part historian, historic renovation zealot, and full time dabbler.