Pho Noi Viet brings classic Vietnamese food in a family-run restaurant

Pho Noi Viet’s small red storefront on Magazine Street is a warm and welcoming place. The Vu family makes sure of that. Whether it’s classics or something special, you can always find something more than expected.

by Eric Marshall
January 23, 2020

Vietnamese food gives so much to a city like New Orleans. It’s a cuisine that fits the moods of the city, and its people. There’s bun, banh mi, and limeades for hot summer days, and pho for those wet winter evenings. It’s comforting and endearing, much like the family that runs Pho Noi Viet.

In recent years, Magazine Street has become the setting for several new and fresh Vietnamese restaurants. As one of its older residents, Pho Noi Viet has more to offer than just the classics.

Grandma and grandpa don’t work at the restaurant, but most everyone else in the Vu family finds a way to pitch in. From cooking to hosting, it’s a true family effort. You’ll feel it the moment you arrive. Everyone is so gracious and welcoming—and it shows in the menu.

Pho Noi Viet has the classics covered, and then some. Both their pho tai (beef), and pho ga (chicken) broth are thick and hearty. But, the vegan broth just might outdo them. It’s light, fresh and still has that lip-coating unctuousness of its meaty relatives. The velvety tofu that accompanies the vegan is always firm and velvety—never dried out and grainy.

What We Ate

Their small menu is humble and understated. Nothing is over ten dollars, unless you ask for udon noodles for your pad thai (In fact everything mentioned in this article is either $8.99 or $9.99). The sections are simple and straightforward. So much so, that you might miss out on their unique offerings. Much like the restaurant itself, the menu lets you into the family.

What’s on the menu is who they are. According to older daughter Kim, if dad was making dinner at home growing up, it was probably going to look like their take on Shaken Beef. Found in the “Rice” section on the menu with other specials, this quick and simple tomato and beef stew has a peppery kick that will warm you up on a cold day. Like most anything you can order it with vegetables, or without, or however you want. They’re always listening and willing to accommodate.

Another highlight is their tofu in tomato sauce, something they say you’d find in Central Vietnam. The tofu is fried perfectly (just like it is on the curry tofu banh mi and tofu pad thai) then simmered in a light tomato sauce that’s full of garlic and green onion. More flavor from tomatoes normally means acidity, but this sauce achieves its delicate flavorful without the acid. It took me by surprise. I’ve been here countless times and I can’t believe I’ve missed out for this long.

Tofu tomatoes

There are so many hidden gems on the menu. At the end of the rice section is another unique dish, and not only because it doesn’t have rice. You wouldn’t normally associate steak frites with a small family-run Vietnamese restaurant. At Pho Noi Viet, the French classic features sliced potatoes fried perfectly crisp, alongside velvety beef covered in a light gravy. You get so many textures between the tender beef, the wonderful gravy, the fluffy interior and crispy exterior of the potatoes. It’s another example of the delicious and simple food that goes beyond the ordinary.

Steak and potatoes

Pho Noi Viet’s small red storefront on Magazine Street is a warm and welcoming place. The Vu family makes sure of that. Whether it’s classics or something special, you can always find something more than expected.

Phở Noi Viet
$$$$
Getting there
2009 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
More Info

Eric Marshall is originally from Houston, and has lived in New Orleans for the last five years. He has his masters in Public History from UNO and has worked as a cook, teacher, and tour guide in the city. His chapter in "Say it Forward: A Guide to Social Justice Storytelling" chronicled his oral history project that interviewed individuals who relocated from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. You can follow his garden and two shibas on instagram @theholyoaks or commiserate about the Pelicans and most anything @hotlunchplate on Twitter.

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