I’ve been thinking a lot about Pok Pok’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings since my trip to Portland last fall. The perfect marriage of crispy chicken and potent nuoc mam, these unforgettable wings left my fingers sticky, my lips lacquered, and my stomach craving more.
Since jetting off to The Beaver State whenever a hankering hits isn’t very practical, I am on a mission to find a local source for similarly delectable wings. First stop: Cafe Artist in Orange County. This spot came recommended to me by Anh, a Gastronomy reader.
Located in the same Little Saigon strip mall as Vien Dong restaurant, Cafe Artist is one of the most popular quan nhau (watering holes) in the neighborhood. The place opens at 1:30 PM and stays bumpin’ till late.
The Astronomer and I, along with my friend Anne, came in for lunch and snagged a table on the patio. I’d heard that it gets loud and smokey once the regular crowd files in, so I was quite pleased that we had the place to ourselves at this hour.
We ordered five dishes between the three of us and managed to finish them all. First up was a hefty platter of oc len xao dua ($11.99),
cockles sea snails simmered in an irresistible lemongrass, red curry, and coconut broth.
As instructed by our waitress, we sucked with all our might to release the cockles from their shells. Mmm! Bowls of steamed rice were requested to make good use of the fabulous broth.
Continue reading ‘Cafe Artist – Garden Grove’
When M.B. Post’s Chef David LeFevre and Slanted Door’s Chef Charles Phan joined forces last Monday night in the name of charity, the results were nothing short of fantastic.
While Chef LeFevre is best known for his way with seafood (and bacon cheddar biscuits), Chef Phan is a pioneer of “modern Vietnamese cooking.” The chefs found common ground this evening in their mutual appreciation for bold, Southeast Asian flavors and ingredients. In spite of their different backgrounds and strengths, the menu gelled harmoniously.
This unique kitchen collaboration was made possible by Common Threads, an organization that both chefs support, which is dedicated to educating children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being and to fostering an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking.
The “four” course, family-style dinner began with a hamachi crudo with crispy shallots and Thai basil from Chef Phan.
I’ve eaten crispy shallots on top of just about everything from noodles to crepes and sticky rice, but never atop raw fish. The thin, caramelized bits paired beautifully with the thick-cut yellowtail.
Continue reading ‘Dream Team: Charles Phan & David LeFevre “Can You Dig It?” Collaboration at M.B. Post’
Chef Connie Tran’s bi-monthly pop-up exploring Vietnamese food traditions brings together classic Vietnamese dishes with a smattering of twists that a Vietnamese grandma probably wouldn’t approve of, in a good way. Filing my second Scouting Report, “BEP Kitchen is for Vietnamese food lovers seeking to go beyond pho,” on the Los Angeles Times‘ Daily Dish. Bon appetit.
Continue reading ‘Jonathan Gold’s Scouting Report #2: Bếp Kitchen’