Po'-boys-coming-soon alert: The Little Jewel of New Orleans, a grocery and deli, has opened on Ord Street in Chinatown. The shop is stocked with Acadiana staples as well as convenience store reliables, and the Community Coffee is flowing. By the end of next week, the deli is expected to be in full swing.
Chef-owner Marcus Christiana-Beniger and his partner Eunah Kang are manning Little Jewel, located in the building that formerly housed Hoy King restaurant. Christiana-Beniger's roster of 5- and 10-inch po' boys will include fried shrimp, fried oyster, roast beef and cochon de lait (suckling pig), to name a few. For vegetarians, there will be the French fry po' boy with French fries, sweet potato fries and vegetarian poutine.
The bread will be imported from Leidenheimer Baking Co. in New Orleans. "I can't tell you how important the bread is," Christiana-Beniger said. "If the bread isn't right, it's all wrong. You can do whatever you want with the fillings, but don't mess with the bread. It's not artisanal bread. Southerners like soft bread; there shouldn't be any chew."
Expect a few hot plates such as Southern breakfast and skillet cornbread with eggs and bacon. Beignets eventually will be served every morning and late nights on weekends.
Christiana-Beniger's philosophy is to keep it simple. "I understand that Southern is in vogue right now," he said. "But my grandmother would laugh at anything served in a Mason jar that costs $14."
Still, there is lots of attention to detail. Sausages will be made in-house: andouille, hot links and boudin blanc, for example. The tasso "ham," Louisiana cured pork shoulder, will be cured in-house too. And the cochon de lait is smoked over pecan wood, in the smoker that once was used for Hoy King's ducks.
A barbecue beef sandwich is made with mayonnaise-smeared pillow-y buns, filled with Christiana-Beniger's tangy beef. And the mayonnaise is of course Blue Plate. "Best Foods is a joke," Christiana-Beniger said. "If you're not making your own, Blue Plate is the next best thing. Duke's is OK."