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!

Table Talk with Chef Tin Vuong

Little Sister (Manhattan Beach, CA)

So far, it’s been a fun-filled day of feasting out here in sunny California. After a nice long nap, my appetite is raring and I’m ready for more good eats! Next stop: Little Sister. Our friends dined here before and had only the best things to say. I don’t eat much Vietnamese or Southeast Asian food back in NY, so I am looking forward to trying something new. We ordered up a storm — a total of ten dishes to share, not including dessert or post-dessert. The first dish out was my absolute favorite of the night: red-braised pork belly with leek fondue. Imagine the silkiest, fattiest pieces of pork belly that simply melt in your mouth — you don’t even need to chew — and they are swimming in a sea of luscious leek fondue. Never had anything like it before, but I know that I want more. Much, much more. Next came a bunch of vegetable dishes: fried okra, papaya salad, pea tendrils, etc. All were yummy, especially the fried okra. Then there was the shaky shaky beef (amazing), the salt & pepper lobster (which was deep fried and delicious), and the most incredible bowl of jasmine rice ever (it was smothered in clarified butter and saffron). No joke, I could eat this rice every day at every meal. It was that good! We had a few scoops of ice cream along with three tiny desserts, and by that time, we were literally bursting at the seams. (I think you know where this is headed. Yes, there’s more food on the way.) Chef Tin Vuong came over to our table to say hello and hang out for a little bit — he was so nice! We learned that he started out as a pastry chef and his passion is baking bread. Turns out, Chef Tin baked a few French baguettes that day… so he graciously sent us a post-dessert snack: a freshly baked baguette with butter and cheese! We dug deep and somehow found a way to devour this blissfully delicious bread. It was pure HEAVEN. Thank you so much to our two besties, Chef Tin Vuong, and the Little Sister team for an unforgettable meal! We can’t wait to take another trip out here for more amazing food!

Little Sister: 1131 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA

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Red-braised pork belly, crispy shiitake, and leek fondue 

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Fried okra, tomato, lime, mint, and fenugreek

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Papaya, green chilies, mustard oil 

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Master stock Jasmine rice with saffron and clarified butter

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Shaky shaky beef, sausalito watercress, baby tomatoes, and burnt butter soy

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Thin egg noodles, garlic oil, sweet soy, crispy shallots, chili oil, and crispy pork bits

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Salt & pepper lobster, butter fried shallots, fried chilies and garlic

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x.o. pea tendrils, lime juice, almonds, and dried scallop shards

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Balinese style fried meat balls with banana ketchup

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Two scoops of sea salt & caramel ice cream and one scoop of papaya cream with housemade chocolate

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Fallen chocolate souffle, Peanut butter profiterole, Caramel apple mini pie

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Post-dessert snack: freshly baked baguette with butter and cheese

Little Sister (Manhattan Beach, CA)