By Marielle Songy, Mid-City Messenger
Hieu Doan was at a crossroads. It was the middle of July 2020 when the owner of Namese, the beloved Vietnamese restaurant on Tulane Avenue, announced the restaurant’s closure. Like so many other businesses, the popular spot for pho had become a victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were forced to close Namese, because food costs went up,” Doan said. “The price of protein for the pho just skyrocketed. Also, our lease went up and the cost of labor was too intensive to maintain the restaurant.”
On Monday (Feb. 15), Doan is getting back to his roots and opening a Mid-City location of his popular seafood restaurant concept in the spot that once housed Namese.
The finishing touches are being put on Hieux Boil Seafood House on Tulane and South Carrollton avenues — a restaurant that will serve up Vietnamese crawfish, crab legs, oysters, shrimp and more.
Doan is a fourth generation fisherman who grew up in the seafood business in the small village of Versailles, a tight-knit Vietnamese community in New Orleans East. As the son of Vietnamese parents who settled in New Orleans in 1975, Doan is familiar with the ins and outs of shrimping, fishing and crawfishing.
“My parents used to catch crawfish in Bayou Sauvage,” he said. “They would go out to Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain and fish all year. We even used to scoop crawfish out of the streets after a heavy rain.”
Doan quickly learned the family trade in the family’s Mid-City seafood market, Carrollton Seafood, which later became Namese, and will now be the home of Hieux Boil Seafood House. The crawfish coming from his family’s market, where Doan worked the counter, was a neighborhood favorite.
This is the second Boil House location for Doan; Boil House Seafood opened in 2018 on Magazine Street, in the former New Orleans Music Exchange spot. The restaurant has been a success, due in part to the way the crawfish is prepared.
The restaurant offers Viet-Cajun crawfish — a different take on the traditional New Orleans boil. First, the crawfish is steamed, and then seasoned as usual. Citrus is added to the mix and, after boiling, the crawfish are tossed in a spicy butter garlic sauce. The process makes for a messy but deliciously memorable crawfish experience.
Doan is eager to share his brand of seafood with the people of Mid-City and welcome them to Hieux Boil Seafood House. The restaurant will include a patio, for that authentic crawfish boil feel.
“We want to bring the backyard seafood experience to the restaurant,” he said. “Our seafood is different than typical New Orleans-style, but we know that people are going to enjoy it.”
Like Boil House Seafood on Magazine Street, Hieux Boil Seafood House will offer seafood varieties of all kinds that can be paired with either Cajun, Caribbean, garlic butter or the house sauce. They come with the option of four different levels of heat.
Dieu said that he would like to reopen Namese one day — but for now seafood will be his focus.
Hieux Boil Seafood House is located at 4077 Tulane Ave. Hours will be Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.