Archive for the 'Vietnamese' Category

Little Sister – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Little Sister - Los Angeles (Downtown)

The original Little Sister in Manhattan Beach has always piqued my interest, but I never got around to dining there because: Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits. You know how it goes. It took a shiny new Downtown outlet, as well as the initiative of a few colleagues, for me to finally make my way here. And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.

Little Sister - Los Angeles (Downtown) Here at this newish and very bustling spot, Chef Tin Vuong cooks up solid Vietnamese and Asian-inspired fare. Drawing from family recipes and his San Gabriel Valley roots, Chef Vuong’s creations are beautifully composed, boldly flavored, and straight-up tasty.

Little Sister - Los Angeles (Downtown)

To start, our party ordered one of every item under the “Introductions” section of the menu. First up was the house-made sesame sourdough baguette with Echire AOC butter and sea salt ($5).

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Bò Lúc Lắc – Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

When I was gifted four beautiful steaks this past Christmas, I briefly considered wrapping the fillets in bacon or chopping them coarsely for a tartare. But when it came down to it, The Astronomer and I both desired Vietnamese food, so “shaking beef” ultimately and unsurprisingly won out.

Since my family does not have a go-to recipe for bò lúc lắc, I turned to Chef Charles Phan of San Francisco’s The Slanted Door to guide me through the process. You could say that he’s got a way with shaking beef

Traditionally, this dish is prepared in a seasoned wok over a flame, which imparts an intense sear on the beef and cooks the entire dish with a flick (or two) of the wrist.

This pared down recipe caters to the home cook and yields immense reward for very little effort. While using a saute pan on an electric stove offers significantly fewer BTUs, the results were most satisfactory. We’ll be making this recipe again and again.

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
  • 1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice or white wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and cut in 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bunches watercress, washed and dried, or 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and separated into leaves
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Marinate meat with garlic, half the sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon oil for about 2 hours at room temperature. (Refrigerate if your kitchen is very warm.)

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, remaining sugar, wine, soy sauce and fish sauce. Taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Mix about 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Divide the meat into 2 portions, and do the same with the onion and scallions. Put a wok or a large skillet over maximum heat, and add about 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil smokes, add the meat in one layer. Let it sit until a brown crust forms, and turn to brown the other side. Browning should take less than 5 minutes.

Add half the onion and half the scallions, and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add about half the vinegar mixture, and shake pan to release the beef, stirring if necessary. Add half the butter, and shake pan until butter melts. Remove meat, and repeat. Continue reading ‘Bò Lúc Lắc – Vietnamese Shaking Beef’

Lunch at The Pig & the Lady – Honolulu

Lunch at Pig & the Lady - Honolulu

The best meal from my trip to Honolulu last spring was at The Pig & the Lady. The Astronomer and I found Chef Andrew Le and Mama Le’s brand of Vietnamese-inflected island fare awesomely creative and delicious; we couldn’t wait to visit again on our next trip to Oahu.

Although my schedule was jam-packed with work commitments on my most recent return to the islands, I had to make time for another meal at this fabulous establishment.

Lunch at Pig & the Lady - Honolulu

I rounded up two hearty eaters (Hi, Thien and Kris) and we Uber’d to the restaurant for lunch. The space was packed considering it was a weekday, but we managed to squeeze in at the tail end of the lunch hour.

Pig & the Lady - Honolulu

Thien sipped on Papa Le’s Iced Coffee ($4), while Kris handled the Cobra Commander ($11). The former was plenty strong yet sweet, while the latter was spiked with avocado mezcal and pink-grapefruit liqueur and chilled with Sriracha ice.

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Phở Ngoon – San Gabriel

Pho Ngoon - San Gabriel

In the mood for Northern Vietnamese fare, The Astronomer and I, along with our friend Courtney, headed to San Gabriel’s Phở Ngoon for lunch. The newish restaurant, which is located in the same plaza as Boston Lobster, offered a lovely change of pace from the Central and Southern Vietnamese cuisine that we tend to favor.

Pho Ngoon - San Gabriel

Upon arriving at the modernly appointed restaurant, we were seated promptly and presented with menus. The one-page bill of fare was awesomely concise, consisting of just three starters and ten mains. We shared five dishes between the three of us.

Pho Ngoon - San Gabriel

First up was an order of pho cuon ($3.50), a dish that was super-trendy in Hanoi circa 2008 when The Astronomer and I lived in Vietnam. Comprised of thin rice noodle sheets wrapped around lettuce leaves, grilled beef, and fresh mint, the pho cuon was served with nuoc cham for dipping.

While I didn’t care too much for this dish in Hanoi, I quite liked Pho Ngoon’s more robust rendition.

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