Anecdotes & Analysis
Whoever did the artwork for the menu, logo, and website is very talented.
Why It's Essential
The name means "three regions," and reveals a subtle aspect of the menu here. It draws from the cooking traditions of all parts of Vietnam, and includes a few specialties not encountered in other local Vietnamese restaurants. The restaurant is a bit more accessible than most Vietnamese places in the east to non-Asians: it's at the corner of Michoud Boulevard and Chef Menteur Highway.
Mai Nguyen opened Ba Mien in 2001 in the lively Vietnamese community in New Orleans East. Like everything else out there, the restaurant was ruined by Hurricane Katrina. The eye, 120-mph winds and the storm surge went right over the restaurant. Astonishingly, the people came right back. A couple of months after the storm. I learned that Ba Mien was back open. (I believe it was the first Chef Menteur restaurant to do so.) Mai built a new building, including a reception hall, and became an anchor in the community.
A rare case among Asian restaurant: the exterior looks a little better than the dining room--which nevertheless is as pleasant a Vietnamese place as I know. Many tables are arranged in the community configuration, allowing large groups to sit together.
For Best Results
They keep traditional hours here: eight in the morning until seven at night. Pho is what is traditionally eaten for breakfast. Other times, it seems to me the best approach is to move beyond pho to sample the most ambitious dishes. Of course, the Chinese dishes are there primarily for people who haven't explored Vietnamese tastes yet.
Ba Mien13235 Chef Menteur Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70129, USA