Archive for the 'Curry' Category

Vietnamese Chicken Curry Pot Pie

Good Girl Dinette's Chicken Curry Pot Pie

At Good Girl Dinette, a charming spot in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park, “American Diner Meets Vietnamese Comfort Food.” While The Astronomer and I are tremendous fans of most everything on the menu, from the blistered imperial rolls to the deeply caramelized pork confit, it’s the restaurant’s signature chicken curry pot pie that we find impossible to resist every time we swing in for dinner.

Each pot pie is baked to order, ensuring that the buttermilk biscuit topping is perfectly flaky, while the fish sauce-laced curry bubbles just beneath. There’s something about the way the buttery crust melds with the spice-laden stew that satisfies and surprises with each bite.

Not everyone is lucky enough to live a short drive away from The Dinette, and Chef Diep Tran’s pot pie is much too delicious to be reserved for locals only. Thankfully, those who reside outside the Southland can reproduce the dish at home with the help of this spot-on recipe that first appeared in the New York Times article “Based on an Old Family Recipe.” I’ve had it bookmarked for ages and finally got around to executing last week when the holiday rush died down.

The original recipe makes five hearty individual servings, just like in the restaurant. However, I made two larger pot pies using 10-inch round quiche dishes since I don’t own any gratin dishes. Also, I used chicken legs in place of the thighs because that was the only cut my market had in stock. Even with these minor tweaks, the results were most satisfactory.

For buttermilk biscuits

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 11 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For chicken curry

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup Madras curry powder
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, tops trimmed, bases halved lengthwise and smashed
  • 3 white onions, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fish sauce
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 3 large Yukon Gold or baking potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk

Make buttermilk biscuits

Good Girl Dinette's Chicken Curry Pot Pie

Have ready five 24-ounce oval (or 2 10-inch round quiche dishes) gratin dishes.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder to combine. Transfer 1 cup of the dry ingredients to a food processor, and sprinkle with the cubes of butter. Pulse 5 to 7 times until the butter pieces are pea-size. Transfer to the bowl with the remaining dry ingredients, and stir to distribute the butter evenly.

Good Girl Dinette's Chicken Curry Pot Pie

Make several depressions in the flour mixture with your fingers; add the buttermilk a little at a time, mixing with your fingers, until it is all incorporated. Gently work the dough just until it comes together. Cover lightly, refrigerate 1 hour.

Note: Don’t sweat it if your dough looks a bit hairy and craggy. Chef Diep Tran assured me that the uglier the dough, the tastier the results. She was right, of course.

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Xoia Vietnamese Eats – Los Angeles (Echo Park)

Xoia - Echo Park

If The Astronomer and I were to combine our culinary heritages, we might come up with dishes like toasted ravioli filled with lemongrass pork and collard greens braised in fish sauce. Sounds intriguing and even a little tempting, wouldn’t you say? This sort of whimsical marrying of cuisines is exactly what the husband and wife team of Jose Sarinana and Thien Ho are doing at Xoia Vietnamese Eats in Echo Park.

Xoia - Echo Park

Opened last summer, Xoia serves a mostly Vietnamese menu with a handful of inspired dishes that bring together elements from both Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine. The cultures collide most successfully under the “Taco” section of the menu. I really enjoyed the anise and cinnamon spiced phở tacos that I sampled at the restaurant’s soft opening and couldn’t wait to try another mash-up during my subsequent lunchtime visit.

Xoia - Echo Park

My easygoing dining mate Nastassia was game for just about anything, so I ordered the mì quảng-inspired tacos ($5.75). The three tacos were served on warm corn tortillas with fresh cilantro, diced red onions, and a side of house-made red salsa. The tender pork was richly spiced with paprika and shallots; I added a squiggle of Sriracha for good measure.

The tacos’ flavors were brighter and more robust than a bowl of mì quảng. Concentrating the spices and upping the oomph allowed the protein to work terrifically as a taco filling. Next time, I’m going to sample the chicken curry tacos.

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Good Girl Dinette – Los Angeles (Highland Park)


As a Vietnamese gal who grew up eating her grandmother’s cooking, knows her way around the Vietnamese kitchen, and even called the motherland home for a year, I could easily dismiss Vietnamese fusion efforts as watered-down versions of the real deal, but truth be told, I’m a big fan. My tremendous love for the culinary traditions of Vietnam extends beyond foggy notions of authenticity. The fact that Vietnamese cuisine is extending its reach outside ethnic enclaves and is evolving in a fresh and meaningful way excites me like you wouldn’t believe.


Once limited to the confines of Chinatown and the San Gabriel Valley, Vietnamese restaurants have recently gained traction in unlikely sections of Los Angeles. The opening of 9021Pho in Beverly Hills a few weeks back inspired me to begin exploring and documenting Los Angeles’ nouveau Vietnamese food movement. While these new establishments are mostly intended for those less familiar with the cuisine, I was curious to experience a new take on the traditional tastes I grew up with.

First stop, Good Girl Dinette.


Located in Highland Park, Good Girl Dinette bills itself as “American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food.” The good girl behind this stylish restaurant is Diep Tran, the former co-owner and chef of Blue Hen. Ms. Tran’s family owns the chain of Pho 79 restaurants in Orange County and Alhambra. Clearly, being a restaurateur is in her blood.

With its exposed brick walls, barely finished tables, and plush mustard yellow chairs, the vibe at Good Girl Dinette is urban and cool. The short menu, which does not contain a lick of Vietnamese, features stews, pot pies, sandwiches, noodles, and soups. All dishes are made using local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. Beat that, Golden Deli.


The Astronomer and I visited the restaurant on a recent Friday night. Even though our waitress warned us that we were ordering far too much food, we still went ahead with three appetizers to start.

First up were the mushroom imperial rolls, also known as cha gio chay ($5.50). Filled with woodear mushrooms, carrots, and glass noodles, the cha gio arrived glistening and hot. The blistered wrappers signaled that Ms. Tran knew when to leave perfection alone. The cha gio were served with large leaves of romaine lettuce, pickled carrots and daikon, and a soy dipping sauce (nuoc tuong). While the flavors were all spot-on, the cha gio could have used more filling because they collapsed a bit with each bite.


Next, an order of rice cakes with crispy scallion tofu ($4.50) arrived. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I placed the order since the term “rice cakes” doesn’t translate into anything specific in Vietnamese cuisine. However, the dish that arrived was totally familiar. The little slabs of deep fried tofu were smothered in a mixture of scallions, oil, and fish sauce, all plopped upon a sticky raft of rice. This dish is one of my mom’s quick and easy dinner solutions, minus the rice cakes.


The final appetizer was a small order of spicy fries ($3). The shoestring russets were seasoned with chopped chilies, garlic, and cilantro. The fries reeked of garlicky goodness, even though the trio of aromatics had difficulty adhering to them. The spice factor made these spuds quite addicting.


Our first entree was a beef stew, also known as bo kho ($9.50). The stew was served with white rice and seasonal greens (brown rice was available for an additional dollar). The bo kho was brimming with braised carrots and tender hunks of beef, all bathed in a fragrant five spice-laced broth. While I enjoyed the stew immensely, it could’ve been slightly less salty.


The bo kho was served with a side of sauteed Chinese broccoli (gai lan).


The final savory course was the curry chayote pot pie ($10). The hearty homemade biscuit was simply perfect and paired extraordinarily well with the classic Vietnamese curry. Easily the evening’s strongest dish.


For dessert, The Astronomer and I shared an almond jelly topped with with seasonal citrus syrup ($5), which came highly recommended from our busser. After indulging in some heavy duty comfort foods, the cool and light jelly was just what our palates desired.

Good Girl Dinette
110 North Avenue 56
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Phone: 323-257-8980

Mì Cà Ri Gà – Chicken Curry with Fresh Egg Noodles

Inspired by a killer bowl of lamb curry noodles I feasted on at the Bowrington Road Market in Hong Kong, this recipe adds a distinctly Chinese twist to my grandma’s classic chicken curry.

  • 5 chicken drum sticks
  • 3 large yams
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons Vietnamese curry (brand: Con Voy)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 14 ounce cans of full-fat coconut milk
  • Salt
  • Fresh Chinese egg noodles

Peel and cut yams into large chunks approximately 1″ thick and 2″ in diameter; set aside. Chop onions; set aside. Heat oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add the onions and sauté until slightly softened. Add a generous dash of salt and 2 tablespoons curry powder. Stir until fragrant; about 10 seconds.

Add chicken to pot and cook until the skin is seared and golden; approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add yams and coconut milk and cook on low heat for 2 hours with the lid on. Make sure the chicken and yams are submerged under the coconut milk. After 2 hours, salt to taste and serve with fresh egg noodles prepared according to directions on package.

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