New Orleans restaurant openings typically ramp back up with the end of August, and this fall is shaping up to be no different. From a St. Roch vendor’s first restaurant to a beloved pop-up chef’s omakase and a few held over from the summer, here’s a roster of the most anticipated openings coming to NOLA this fall.
Who: Chef Kazuyuki “Kaz” Ishikawa, sushi partner Eli Ramos, and local restaurateur Billy Blatty
What: Chef Kaz, a Tokyo native, gained a following while manning Shogun’s sushi bar, and later through his wildly popular omakase pop-ups around town. Now, along with his Shogun and pop-up partner-in-sushi Eli Ramos, chef Kaz will open his own sushi restaurant, Nagomi. While it will technically be omakase, the pair wants the 12-seat sushi bar to be approachable in both price and style, with meals starting at $45. Nagomi will have two seatings per night, and chef Kaz says he hopes to get direction from diners on what they’re seeking that night, whether it be straight sushi or fusion.
Where: 3214 Burgundy Street in the Bywater, in the former home of Sea Cave arcade
Em Trai Sandwich Co.
Who: Tung Nguyen, chef of Vietnamese food stall T2 Streetfood in St. Roch Market
What: Tung Nguyen and T2 Streetfood have been in St. Roch Market since the beginning, earning its place as one of the city’s top destinations for Vietnamese. Now, Nguyen is bringing his fare across the street and opening a restaurant, Em Trai Sandwich Co. Among the specialties on the menu are a hot sausage banh mi, pho made with American-style barbecue meats as well as lobster, bao, and seasonal Viet-Cajun seafood boils. The corner restaurant, briefly home to the expansions of both Spotted Cat and Seed, Em Trai will be a casual, counter-service spot and have a full bar.
Where: 2372 St. Claude Avenue in the Marigny, in the former Seed next to the Healing Center
When: Early September
What: The idea to open a “straightforward” Chinese-American restaurant in the Lower Garden District was born over drinks at neighborhood watering hole Barrel Proof, and the LGD has eagerly awaited the addition ever since. Horner will run the bar and dining room while Jones will run the kitchen, with plans for a menu that includes peking duck, fried rice, egg foo young, shrimp wontons, blue crab rangoon, and dan dan noodles.
Location: 1300 Magazine Street, Lower Garden District
What: Belle Epoque is an absinthe-and-cocktail-lounge extension of Bourbon Street’s Old Absinthe House, and will be operated under event management company Rue Bourbon, interestingly. Vanvleet is serving as executive chef, with menu items like French onion pot pie, stuffed chicken wings with whipped foie gras and a trio of oysters with absinthe mignonette. While cocktails will indeed be absinthe-focused, with Belluci at the helm you can expect them to remain delicate and light in the best way possible.
Where: Behind the Old Absinthe House at 238 Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
When: Late September
Who: Original True Food owners Centerbridge Partners, Oprah (as investor), and Audubon Capital Partners
What: True Food Kitchen is an Oprah-backed, rapidly expanding health-conscious restaurant chain with 28 locations in 12 U.S. states and more opening soon. The menu focuses on vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options and brings in Mediterranean and Asian flavors, but is more about ingredients than a certain cuisine. True Food says it uses healthy, seasonal, “sustainable,” and organic ingredients in line with the heavily-debated “anti-inflammatory” diet. The casual, full-service restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, and serves wine, local beer, and cocktails made with fresh juice and house-made syrups.
Where: 801 St. Charles Ave., Warehouse District, also in The Julia
When: Wednesday, September 25
Who: Nhat “Nate” Nguyen, the opening chef at Gert Town ramen gem Kin, and Jeff Gapultos, one of the founders of Eiffel Society on St. Charles Avenue.
What: The Vietnamese-born and NOLA-raised chef Nguyen left Kin in 2016 and started operating his own ramen pop-up, Union Ramen. Last May, he announced plans for a casual, counter service restaurant of the same name that will serve a menu of chicken broth-based ramen, poke, and Vietnamese small plates.
Where: 1837 Magazine Street in the LGD, in the former Jim Russell’s Rare Records
When: Originally slated to open by the end of 2018, Union Ramen’s “a bit behind schedule” but expects to open this fall.