Imagine the traditional chicken and andouille okra mix with Chinese pot stickers and the scene is set for something different. All the ingredients of traditional Creole gumbo – sausage, chicken, the holy trinity – are condensed into a filling that is slipped into a square of soft dough. The hand-formed potsticker is pan-fried and steamed. Then the bundle is floated in a bowl of okra. Top it all off with a handful of scallions and pickled peppers and you have the most popular dish on the Ginger Roux menu.
Chinese meets Creole cuisine at Restaurant in the new Hilton Canopy hotel, located in the former Oil and Gas Building, a 14-story glass and steel tower built in 1959.
The hotel opened a few months ago, and the culinary team is led by Executive Chef Jonathan Hostetler, a 34-year-old Virginia native who has spent the past 10 years carving out a place for himself on the culinary scene. He previously worked at Cochon Butcher and Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel & Casino, where he was hired as executive chef just before the pandemic hit. At Canopy, he found the right fit while running the dining options for a 176-room boutique hotel. He’s creating his own New Orleans Asian concept and sourcing locally where he can.
“The brand wanted to connect to the history of the neighborhood as New Orleans’ Chinatown, and they chose the name,” says Hostetler. “Beyond that, I had the freedom to create something brand new.”
Its staff includes Joshua Davis, who gained six years of wok cooking experience at Red’s Chinese in Bywater.
“They were supposed to reopen,” Hostetler says. “When they didn’t, I picked it up.”
Jonathon Huynh, the hotel’s food and beverage manager, brings Chinese family roots to the property, and he’s a colleague Hostetler knew from Harrah’s.
Hostetler has created an impressive menu, which includes breakfast at the bar from 6.30am. The Herbalist bar then opens and remains open until late in the evening seven days a week. It offers a menu of exotic cocktails and local and Chinese beers on tap and a rotating list of Asian wines from small producers.
The chef and his team developed 40 recipes in the 10 days preceding the opening, and the menu will continue to expand. Each dish has an Asian twist, a nod to the Chinatown that once occupied this part of town.
“Our goal is to tap into Cantonese, Korean and Thai dishes, using Creole techniques and local ingredients,” says Hostetler. “We create our own thing – dishes that don’t fit in any box but still feel familiar.”
At lunch, local prawns are dusted with five spices, blackened and served with blistered tomatoes and vegetables in a citrus-ginger vinaigrette. Cuban Cantonese offers pressed pork marinated in lemongrass with ham, pickles, homemade Chinese mustard and fontina cheese.
The double smashburger is topped with hoisin BBQ onions, Chinese mustard, lettuce, tomato and American cheese. In a crazy town of fried chicken sandwiches, Ginger Roux’s Korean Spicy Chicken Sandwich stands out from the crowd, with a layer of spicy chili fire sauce, kimchi aioli and spicy pickles. Crawfish Potato Salad is a delicious blend of charred corn, potatoes and crawfish tails in a tangy mayonnaise sauce, with plenty of satisfying crunch in every bite.
For dinner, the growing seasonal menu includes okra dumplings, as well as crawfish fried rice sprinkled with andouille sausage, local mushrooms and charred corn. General Tso’s alligator is not fried. Instead, tender chunks of alligator are blackened in the wok and served with crispy garlic broccoli, homemade Tso sauce, jasmine rice and herb salad.
For dessert, sweet potato pie spring rolls are topped with candied cashew crunch and topped with five-spice whipped cream and smoky orange chili glaze.
Locals dining at the restaurant can park at the Unipark garage across the street at 145 Roosevelt Way for $7, and parking is free for a party spending over $100. Take-out orders can be placed over the phone, and customers can go to the valet stand and pick up their food from the take-out window.