Here is my review of Hoa Hong 9 Roses in Gretna that ran in the March 2010 issue of The West Bank Beacon:
Hoa Hong 9 Roses | South Vietnamese Cuisine in Gretna
In 1984, single mother Tu Doan and her 3 children made the journey from South Vietnam to Terrytown, Louisiana, to start a new life. Mamma Tu had made her living in Saigon as a restaurant cook. Upon her arrival in this area, she brought her skills to Tu Do restaurant on Manhattan Boulevard. Tu Do was one of the first Vietnamese restaurants on the Westbank.
She worked at Tu Do until 1990 when she opened her own restaurant Hoa Hong 9 Roses on 8th Street in Harvey. The whole family, including the children, worked at the new restaurant.
In 1993, Mamma Tu’s oldest child, Ana, graduated from LSU with a degree in Business Administration. After graduation, Ana went to work at the highly acclaimed and very popular Five Happiness Restaurant in New Orleans.
In 1996, the Doan family made the move from the small building on 8th Street to the restaurant’s current location on Stephens Street in Gretna. By this time, Ana was married to Jeff Nguyen and they both joined Mamma Tu in running the new, expanded 9 Roses. Mamma Tu, Ana, Jeff and their families have built 9 Roses into a successful restaurant with a very loyal clientele.
The menu at 9 Roses is extensive and includes Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. The menu in its entirety can be viewed here. For those not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, it is a lighter style than traditional Chinese food. A constant in the preparation of the food is fresh herbs: mint, cilantro, and basil. Some of the more interesting dishes are those aimed at ethnic Vietnamese; for example, Vietnamese diners routinely enjoy dishes prepared at the table with delicious broths, sauces and fresh herbs accompanying meats, seafoods and vegetables. Deep-fried whole fish served with various sauces is another crowd-pleaser.
For those not quite as adventurous, I recommend introducing yourself to Vietnamese cuisine with one of the two Vietnamese staples: the bun (vermicelli) or pho (soup). Light and savory bun -- topped with either chicken (pictured above), pork or beef -- is served over vermicelli, lettuce, fresh bean sprouts, cucumbers and mint, sprinkled with roasted onions and peanuts. The regular bowl is $6.95 . The dish is full of flavor and delicious.
The pho is the perfect comfort food. On a recent cold day, I enjoyed a bowl of the Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup). All pho is served with a side plate of fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves, cilantro leaves, sliced green chile pepper, and a lemon wedge. You get to control how much of all seasonings go into your pho. I always add a dab of Sriracha (aka Rooster sauce) to my bun and pho for a nice kick. Be careful – it’s hot and a little goes a long way. The regular bowl of pho is $6.95 and is a meal in itself.
The Vietnamese spring rolls are light, delicate, and flavorful. An order of 4 is $5.75. The Vietnamese egg rolls are fried yet still light and delicious and are also $5.75. Other favorites include: lemon grass chicken, $8.75; curry and coconut shrimp, $11.75, and the eggplant in garlic sauce, $7.95. For those looking for bargain lunches, 9 Roses can accommodate you. The lunch menu includes a long list of Chinese entrees served with a choice of soup, rice, and iced tea for $7.25.
I have been a regular at 9 Roses since the early days. The food is consistently fresh and flavorful. The prices can’t be beat for the quality and quantity of the cuisine. The dining room is large and nicely appointed. Big parties and children are always welcome. The restaurant is located at 1100 Stephens Street in Gretna. Lunch and dinner are served continuously from 10:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. every day except Wednesdays. The phone number is 366-7665. 9 Roses is Zagat-rated and was voted the Vietnamese Restaurant of the Year by New Orleans Magazine in December 2009.
Mamma Tu retired a couple of years ago but still serves as Ana & Jeff’s “consultant.” Thanks, Mamma Tu, for sharing your recipes with all of us all these years!
Reprinted with permission of "The West Bank Beacon."