Table Talk with Chef Tin Vuong

Current Gig
Chef/Owner, Blackhouse Hospitality Management:
Abigaile (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Wildcraft (Culver City, Los Angeles, CA)
Little Sister (Manhattan Beach, CA)
Dia de Campo (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Wolven Steak & Whisky (Hermosa Beach, CA)

About the Chef
Chef Tin Vuong  was born in California to a Chinese family who fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon.  After Chef Tin completed his bachelor’s degree in economics at UCLA, he decided to combine his business skills with his passion for food by enrolling in the California Academy of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. Shortly after graduating, he became the Executive Sous Chef at the St. Regis Hotel and Resort in Monarch Beach, CA. In 2012, Chef Tin moved on from his position as Director of Culinary Operations at Sapphire in Laguna Beach to become the Executive Chef of Abigaile in Hermosa Beach. Since then, he has become the Chief Operator and Chef/Partner of Blackhouse Hospitality Group, which owns five restaurants in Southern California and plans to open three more in Spring & Summer 2015. At Little Sister, Chef Tin puts a modern spin on traditional Vietnamese dishes and is constantly looking for new approaches to old classics.

Little Sister: 1131 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA
Abigaile: 301 Manhattan Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA
Dia de Campo1238 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA
Wildcraft9725 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
Wolven Steak & Whisky: 117 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA

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Chef Tin Vuong at Little Sister

Where did you grow up?

San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County, California

What did you enjoy eating most as a kid?
Pho

At the moment, what is your favorite ingredient and what do you like to make with it?
At any moment… that would be EGGS.  Makes everything better!

What kitchen items are important for a home cook to own?
A hand blender.  It is super cheap and can do so many things. Most importantly, it saves time.

If your food were music, what music style(s) would it be?
Gangsta rap

Where are your favorite places to travel for the cuisine?
Vietnam and Hong Kong

If you had not gone the culinary route, what would you have done instead?
Probably being a “suit” doing some sort of financial job.  I’d be hating life, but making that paper.

Which chef do you admire most right now?
David Chang

When you get a chance to dine out, where do you like to go?
For regular daily eats: Chipotle and In-n-Out.  I don’t do fancy restaurants that often.

If you had to give up one of the five food groups (Bread & Potatoes; Milk & Dairy; Meat & Fish; Fat & Sugar; Fruits & Vegetables) and could not eat anything from that group for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Bread and potatoes.  They just aren’t that interesting!

RAMEN.Co

Back for more ramen deliciousness at RAMEN.Co! This time I had the Original Ramen Burger with cheese. It was so good! And the ramen “bun” was super crispy, which made it even better. I loved the Wakayama Shoyu ramen last time, but wanted to switch things up a bit so I ordered the Hakata Shio (tonkotsu + salt). Very tasty with a nice, light broth. I have to say, that pork belly is simply divine. (Next time I need a double — OK, maybe triple — portion with my ramen. ;) ) I also snagged a bite of my friend’s Brooklyn Blend ramen (tonkotsu, black garlic oil, soy sauce) — really digging that black garlic broth. After devouring everything, we were in the mood to sample one more ramen burger, so we went for the Yakitori (chicken thigh + teriyaki sauce). The chicken was super tender, but the ramen bun was not as crispy as before. Still yummy, though. Three ramens and three ramen burgers down; many more tasty items on the menu still to try!

RAMEN.Co: 191 Pearl Street (between Liberty and Cedar)

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Hakata Shio Ramen (tonkotsu + salt)

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Brooklyn Blend Ramen (tonkotsu + black garlic oil + soy sauce)

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Brooklyn Blend in action

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Original Ramen Burger with cheese

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Yakitori Ramen Burger (chicken thigh + teriyaki sauce)

International Wings Factory

Popped into International Wings Factory and grabbed a bacon cheeseburger to go. It was fantastic! Got a great shot of this beautiful burger before scarfing it down on a bench near Central Park. Chef Deepak kindly let me sample one of his newest creations: a deep fried panko-crusted brownie. I loved the mix of sweet and savory. Thanks so much, Chef D!

International Wings Factory: 1762 First Avenue (between 91st and 92nd Street)

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Bacon Cheeseburger 

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New dessert in the works:  deep fried panko-crusted brownie

RAMEN.Co

Finally made it to RAMEN.Co by Chef Keizo Shimamoto. So excited to try the ramen and the infamous ramen burger! I decided on the Wakayama Shoyu ramen with Kurobuta pork broth (tonkotsu) and soy sauce. The pork belly was luscious, savory, and super satisfying. I also tried the Original Ramen Burger for the first time — it was much smaller than I expected, but really tasty and very filling! I liked the crispy ramen “bun” a lot and the burger was delish. I will definitely be back to try everything else on the menu. :)

RAMEN.Co: 191 Pearl Street (between Liberty and Cedar)

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Wakayama Shoyu Ramen (tonkotsu + soy sauce)

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Original Ramen Burger (certified Angus beef patty + arugula + secret shoyu sauce + scallion)

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Inside the Ramen Burger

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RAMEN.Co

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Inside RAMEN.Co

Dem 2 Brothers And A Grill (Charleston, WV)

Just landed in Charleston, West Virginia and I’m headed straight from the airport to Dem 2 Brothers And A Grill. I’m super hungry and ready for some tasty barbecue! Dem 2 Brothers started out as a food truck and became so popular that they opened their own restaurant. My awesome friends from WV ordered up a storm — pulled pork, a whole rack of baby back ribs, beef brisket, more pulled pork, chicken, and a bunch of tasty sides. They also brought a few six packs of beer. It’s on! The ribs were my favorite — super juicy and falling-off-the-bone tender. I specifically requested fatty cuts of beef brisket and they gave me some nice pieces that I enjoyed. (I have to admit, the brisket bar is set extra high for me because of what I’ve experienced at North Main BBQ in Texas. It’s insane.) Overall, everything was delish and we had a lot of laughs. Thanks so much to my WV besties for a great meal!

Dem 2 Brothers And A Grill: 426 Virginia Street West, Charleston, WV

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Pulled pork sandwich with collard greens and cabbage

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Whole rack of baby back ribs

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Chicken with cabbage and dirty rice 

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Beef brisket

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Pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese 

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Enjoyed some refreshing wheat beers with our barbecue dinner

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Inside Dem 2 Brothers

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