A new restaurant and microbrewery serving Viet-Cajun cuisine from New Orleans native Anh Luu has opened in Bywater, six months after its planned debut was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Bywater Brew Pub, located at the corner of Royal and Montegut Streets, is open for dinner six days a week for dine-in, takeout, and delivery via local platform D’livery Nola.
Owner Nahum Laventhal announced plans for the brew pub in February, beginning a thorough renovation of the corner warehouse building’s ground floor shortly after. Laventhal enlisted Luu to lead the kitchen, and she’s brought the inventive comfort food she became known for while running popular Portland restaurant Tapalaya. A menu of “finger foods” includes items like Vietnamese crawfish etouffee nachos, grilled lemongrass pork wraps, and double-fried chicken wings coated in a nước mắm (fish sauce) syrup. In the “same but different” section, diners will find New Orleans staple yakamein, Cajun fried rice, and the phoritto — a mashup of a burrito and Vietnamese pho Luu became known for in Portland via viral pop-ups. There’s also a karaage chicken sandwich made using a Japanese frying technique, a banh mi burger, and a vegetarian-friendly tofu burger.
On the beer side, Bywater Brew Pub will serve a line of beers from local brewer Sonny Day, a 28-year veteran of the industry who previously worked for the original Dixie Brewing Co., Abita Brewing Co., Gordon Biersch New Orleans, and most recently the hugely popular Urban South Brewery. For now, while the restaurant awaits the arrival of its own lineup, it’s currently serving a menu of all local brews.
Luu was born in New Orleans East to Vietnam War refugees, ending up in Portland after Hurricane Katrina derailed her college plans. In 2013, Luu became head chef at Portland restaurant Tapalaya, where she became known for the phorrito and earned rave reviews. After five years and a semifinalist nod for Eater Young Guns 2016, she bought Tapalaya from owners in 2017. Two years later, she sold the restaurant and returned to New Orleans following the death of her mother.
Bywater Brewpub (3000 Royal Street) is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday, and from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
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