New Orleans culture is extremely dynamic, and one of the reasons is because we have influences from so many different countries. Our French and Spanish roots are prominent, but many other international perspectives have become ingrained in our city as people from all over the world have been drawn to New Orleans from its beginnings and made it home.
New Orleans has a vibrant Vietnamese population that has grown here since the 1970s when many Vietnamese fled to America after the Vietnam War. New Orleans was a popular new home to many Vietnamese partly because of the tropical weather we enjoy here, our proximity to the coast and bodies of water, and also our strong Catholic population. And let’s be honest, they probably got wind of how awesome New Orleans is.
Our guest on this episode of GoNOLA Radio is Karl Takacs, owner of the phenomenal Vietnamese restaurant Phò Tâù Bay on the Westbank. Takacs’ grandfather started the restaurant in Saigon and since moving it here, it has become one of the best, most authentic Vietnamese restaurants in the New Orleans area, serving the classic and most popular dishes like pho, bun, banh mi, and more.
Our GoNOLA radio hosts talk with Takacs about the Phò Tâù Bay menu and the evolution of Vietnamese food throughout the years. Here in New Orleans, we really express ourselves through food and cooking, and the presence and importance of Vietnamese restaurants in our city like Lilly’s Café, Magasin Café, Le Viet Café, Jazmine Café, and Pho Bistreaux, among many others, is indicative of the welcoming and ingratiating nature of Vietnamese culture into New Orleans life.
The other way New Orleans folks express themselves is through festivals, and as you may have expected, we’ve got a Vietnamese festival called Tet Fest that goes down every lunar new year (in January or February), held at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church in Versailles, a New Orleans neighborhood with a strong Vietnamese population. This wonderful celebration of Vietnamese food, music, and traditions is not only a way for people to get a taste of new food and Vietnamese history in New Orleans, it is also a very authentic festival for the Vietnamese in New Orleans to carry on the true traditions from their old home.
Take a listen to this week’s episode of GoNOLA Radio and hear Takacs and our hosts talk about Phò Tâù Bay, Vietnamese dishes, and highlights of Tet Fest. And you might even get a few tips on pronunciation of your favorite Vietnamese dishes.
GoNOLA Radio is a free New Orleans podcast hosted by Sunpie Barnes, Lorin Gaudin, George Ingmire and Mikko about the food, music and culture of the Crescent City. Subscribe to GoNOLA Radio on iTunes or download to your mobile device on Stitcher. GoNOLA Radio features music by Cale Pellick.