The name might not be too familiar, but Mukbang Seafood & Bar springs from something that’s becoming increasingly prominent piece of the New Orleans food scene. It’s focus is boiled seafood, through the lens of next-generation Vietnamese American restaurant people bringing their own influences to the table.
At this new restaurant on Oak Street, that takes the form of platters and bowls of boiled and steamed shellfish coated with a tangy, savory tamarind garlic butter, with perhaps some garlic noodles on the side.
It’s the latest from Kim Nguyen, who runs the Vietnamese restaurants Magasin and Magasin Kitchen.
Mukbang opened in late October in the former home of Chiba, a Japanese restaurant that closed just before the pandemic in 2020. It shares the block with the Maple Leaf Bar and Jacques-Imo’s Café.
It’s also the latest in a string of new restaurant additions along this row. Seafood Sally’s, the gently modern seafood joint from the Marjie’s Grill crew, and 14 Parishes, the expansion of the local Jamaican restaurant, each debuted last spring within a block of each other. Nearby, the Mexican restaurant Mucho Mas is taking shape in the former home of DTB (which was briefly another restaurant, Jazzy Pete’s Po-Boys).
Seafood Sally’s also serves its own version of boiled seafood with garlic butter.
This type of sauced-up boiled seafood, often called Viet-Cajun style, has built a widening niche around New Orleans, after flourishing in other cities with strong Vietnamese restaurant communities. Houston is the prime example.
The new restaurant is a partnership between Nguyen and her sister Thúy Nguyen, who are both from New Orleans, and their respective husbands, Luu Tran and Thai Nguyen, who are both from Texas.
For Mukbang, they fold in some unique touches from the way they prepare boiled and steamed seafood at home.
The addition of tamarind gives another layer of flavor to the butter dressing, and relates back to Southeast Asian tradition, Nguyen explained.
Crawfish are out of season right now of course, but one mixed platter brought shrimp, clams, two different types of mussels, lobster tail and snow crab.
The sides are a little different from the usual, too. You can get peeled, boiled eggs coated in the sauce, and you can get a bowl of garlic noodles to twirl through the butter sauce, too. There’s even fresh Persian cucumbers as a change of pace and palate cleanser, another hack from the family’s home feasts.
The menu has a short list of po-boys and fried seafood platters, appetizers like calamari, boudin balls, turkey necks and crab rangoon, and specialties of garlic shrimp fettuccine, oxtail stew and curry tamarind fries with crabmeat.
Now for that name.
Mukbang is a term for “performative eating,” drawn from the Korean words for eating and broadcast. The mukbang trend found its footing on social media, especially Tiktok, where people try to gain followers by showing themselves eating big spreads of food. Nguyen picked the name for her new restaurant because it reflects the gusto people bring to boiled seafood here in New Orleans.
“I like the name because it means this kind of savage eating, just tearing into it, and that’s what people do with this kind of food,” she said.
Mukbang is applying for a liquor license and in the meantime is BYOB.
Mukbang Seafood & Bar
8312 Oak St., 504-345-2695
Tue.-Fri., 5-9 p.m., Sat. and Sun. noon-8 p.m.
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