This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to our very opinionated editors’ favorite things to eat, drink, and buy.
I'm never one to say no to karaoke. So when a Vietnamese friend insisted we go to Hoang Gia when I was visiting New Orleans last year, I absolutely did not argue. But as much as I was into the renditions of “House of the Rising Sun” and the divey decor (heavy ruched curtains, giant rubber plants, green dance floor strobe lights), I couldn’t stop thinking about all the delicious food we ordered.
Elbowed into a strip mall in New Orleans East, this karaoke bar doubles as a destination for Big Easy adaptations of Vietnamese dishes. There’s fried gulf shrimp with a tamarind-lime dipping sauce that’s pungent and sweet. There’s a giant hot pot made with local Pompano fish, elephant taro, tomato, and okra, and served with vermicelli noodles. I wanted to swim in it! And there are the platters of “Rock n’ Roll” beef with chiles, a rich, velvety version of shaking beef—best enjoyed under flashing LED stage lights. I never spent more time snacking than singing at karaoke.
The chef responsible for this delightful bar food is Buc Sau, a 72-year-old woman who immigrated to the United States in the ’80s after the fall of Saigon. She worked in kitchens around New Orleans and ended up at Hoang Gia, a sit-down family restaurant at the time. Eventually, she decided that she wanted to take over the restaurant herself, so she and her son bought out the owner and turned the restaurant into a community mainstay for local fisherman.
Swing by any Saturday and you’ll find folks sharing fried shrimp, ordering a bucket of cold beer, and signing up to sing Vietnamese hits. And ABBA. No karaoke session is complete without an ABBA deep cut.
Go there: Hoang Gia
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit