walking around and taking photos at the French Quarter Fest, and he happens to start talking with a local man. And their conversation turns—as do many of our conversations with "locals"—to the topic of restaurants. “Where would you go for good Chinese food?” Chuck asks.
And the response is: “9 Roses (Hoa Hong).”
So about a week later we drove across the Crescent City Connection (the bridge) to the Westbank area of Gretna to seek out some good Chinese food.
“In 1984, single mother Tu Doan and her 3 children made the journey from South Vietnam to Terrytown, Louisiana, to start a new life. Mamma Tu had made her living in Saigon as a restaurant cook. Upon her arrival in this area, she brought her skills to Tu Do restaurant on Manhattan Boulevard….one of the first Vietnamese restaurants on the Westbank. She worked at Tu Do until 1990 when she opened her own restaurant Hoa Hong 9 Roses on 8th Street in Harvey. The whole family, including the children, worked at the new restaurant….In 1996, the Doan family made the move from the small building on 8th Street to the restaurant’s current location on Stephens Street in Gretna. By this time, Ana was married to Jeff Nguyen and they both joined Mamma Tu in running the new, expanded 9 Roses…. 9 Roses…was voted the Vietnamese Restaurant of the Year by New Orleans Magazine in December 2009…. Mamma Tu retired a couple of years ago but still serves as ‘consultant’” (Reprinted with permission of The West Bank Beacon at nativepalate.blogspot.com).
As at 5 Happiness in New Orleans, two giant lions guard the entrance
9 Roses claims to have the largest menu of any restaurant in the New Orleans area. Unfortunately, I neglected to do due diligence and didn’t realize that about eighty percent of the menu items were Vietnamese with the remaining twenty percent being Chinese restaurant staples. But we still concentrated our attention on the Chinese offerings.
I have been craving hot and sour soup and chose to start my meal
“small” bowl or cup. This was a surprisingly good version (I have learned not to have too high of expecta-tions with Chinese food in the New Orleans area.) and was loaded with tofu, scallions, Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and pork shreds in a nicely balanced hot and sour meat stock. I did add a small glug of sriracha for extra heat.
Chuck decided he wanted to try something new from the appetizers
His entrée choice was one of his Chinese restaurant favorites—Sesame Chicken. Chunks of chicken breast are tossed in a marinade
that “velvets” or tenderizes the chicken meat so that the meat, when deep fat fried, doesn’t become dry. After frying, the chicken pieces are tossed with a sauce that can contain soy, sesame oil, chile paste, vinegar, and sugar. The sugar gives a slight stickiness to the chicken crust and the vinegar cuts some of the sweetness from the sugar. With his chicken came a whole head of lightly steamed broccoli. He was in heaven. Well, more so over the chicken than the broccoli.
My choice—the Szechuan Pepper Squid—was less successful. This is a dish I loved at Red Lotus in Santee, CA, and enjoyed at 5 Happiness here in New Orleans. But 9 Roses’ version came up short. First, the pieces of squid, while beautifully and lightly battered, were very
Now Chuck and I have a mild disagreement. He thought that 9 Roses was equal to 5 Happiness, and I decidedly prefer 5 Happiness. And 5 Happiness doesn’t involve crossing the bridge. And since I am the writer and rater, I am only going to award 9 Roses 3.0 Addies.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.