Bites in Brief: Two Small Restaurants Make Big Steps for Ida’s Return | Where NOLA eats
Egg Roll House (3507 Veterans Blvd., (504) 887-9364) is one such enduring quirk, a Metairie staple that’s known at least as much for its longevity as it is for anything on the menu.
As the bustling blocks of Veterans Boulevard that surround it are increasingly marked with chic chains and new developments, this somewhat tattered, family-run small Chinese restaurant has been a constant for nearly four decades.
However, it remained closed after Hurricane Ida, long after the power was restored. The distinctive canopy on the outside was destroyed and the windows remained dark. As many small restaurants have struggled to reopen or completely close after Ida’s impact on pandemic woes, this was concerning.
So it was with some relief that I finally spotted the illuminated “open” panel again.
It is headed by Theresa and Ricky Chien, originally from Taiwan. Ricky Chien’s family opened the restaurant in 1985. It serves large portions at low prices; it is not very popular. But he continued as countless other restaurants have come and gone.
âWe have clients who have been coming here all their lives and now they bring their children, a second generation and a third generation from the same families,â said Theresa Chien.
âWhen we were closed they just kept calling and calling. We had to pay rent, but you also need to be safe before opening.
With the roof finally fixed, the family is back in business for take-out only, with orders over the counter and through a narrow drive-thru window.
Once the awning is replaced, they will reopen for food service. Without it, Theresa Chien thinks the dining room is getting too sunny and too hot for her customers.
Egg Roll House has mostly been devoted to short-term Chinese take-out anyway, with General Tso’s spicy chicken, shrimp fried rice, and lomein among the dishes on hold here.
It is also known to be Egg Roll House.
It occupies what was once a donut shop and restaurant, and still sports the yellow Formica booths and the counter with bolt-on swivel chairs from that era.
Against the fancy chains and corporate brands alongside the veterans, it’s a returning emblem of an old Metairie (but not precisely Old Metairie).
A long time ago he took the leap into social media (of the hyper-local variety), with people cheering him on just because he lasts.
For the family behind, however, the restaurant’s longevity is no joke. It’s their livelihood and Chien said they were relieved to come back to it.
Waking up to Wakin ‘Bakin’
Things are improving a bit for Wakin ‘Bakin’. The local restaurant, known for its new take on breakfast standards, struggles to make a comeback after Hurricane Ida and has been reduced to a reduced crew trying to maintain only one of its two locations (3625 Prytania St. , (504) 534-5698).
Now, however, owner Conrad Chura has opened a long-planned third location in the French Quarter (900 Dumaine St., (504) 233-3877). This one is equipped with a commissary kitchen and this is part of its plan to cut costs for a small local brand while maintaining consistent quality in several kitchens.
“This is what will give us a chance to fight,” he said.
As Wakin ‘Bakin’ returns to service, he hopes to be able to reopen the Mid-City site at 4408 Banks St. in the coming weeks as well.
The new restaurant housed the local restaurant Eat New Orleans. Eat off for good earlier this year after a 15-year race.
Wakin ‘Bakin’ currently offers a short menu, although it still contains many of the house’s signatures. The sourdough king is a breakfast sandwich made with layers of homemade bread, the ‘bacon confit’to’ fills a breakfast burrito with simmered confit-style bacon, and the egg breakfast bowls or tofu begin with “Cajun smashed hash,” cooked to a crab boil.
While brunches are plentiful in the French Quarter, this Wakin ‘Bakin’ adds a simpler, dinner-style breakfast option from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Thursday through Monday for now).