The number of new restaurants that have recently opened in downtown is ridiculous, and one very popular Manhattan Beach restaurant, Little Sister, has made its way to downtown. It should be noted at least by our server, that the name “Little Sister” came from the same people that brought you Abigaile in Hermosa Beach…. I guess you can call Abigaile the “Big Sister”.
Can I just say, right off the bat, this restaurant is just so darn cute! The décor is very industrial yet trendy and surprisingly has a cozy atmosphere, perhaps because the restaurant itself is not very large – date night alert guys, take note. They also serve dishes straight from the kitchen, so whatever finishes cooking first is what you end up cooking. I personally liked that, as it meant the food was fresh and not sitting under a hot lamp.
But GLG went for lunch – so nothing but food, food, and more food for us! We started off with the Pho Banh Cuon, which included beef, herbs (I tasted mint and cilantro), red chilies, lettuce and pickled onions wrapped in a thick rice paper. There was A LOT of flavor going on here. Good flavors, for sure. I thought the beef was well cooked, and the pickled onions added a nice texture and layer to the dish, but I couldn’t get passed the giant mouthful of lettuce and herbs I had to get through in order to get to the meat. It was also a very messy dish to eat (and that’s with a knife and fork). Kathy actually informed me that the “traditional” version of this dish has much thinner rice paper (this one was pretty thick) and the beef/meat is usually cut up much smaller. This is a fusion restaurant, so I’d let this one slide.
Our next dish was actually highly recommended by our server, and that was the Shaky Shaky Beef, watercress, baby tomatoes, burnt butter soy with tomato garlic fried rice. As I mentioned before they like to serve dishes right when they’re finished cooking in the kitchen, because the beef, was again perfectly cooked. Because of that I don’t think the dish needed as much sauce as was on the meat. It was very strong to begin with, actually Kathy made a note that she got a really strong fish sauce taste, and I have to agree it with that. There was nothing in particular that I found WRONG with this dish, but for as much as the server hyped it up and for the price of the actual dish…I can’t say it was totally worth it. I wished we had looked at the price before we went and ordered this, because to pay $22 for a meat and rice dish felt like highway robbery.
Our last dish was the Poached Chicken, shrimp and sweet soy Congee with Chinese donut. Kathy mentioned it was a breakfast staple in many Chinese households. I remember having this for breakfast almost every morning when I went with my mom on a tour of China back when I was in high school. I remember it not being the most flavorful thing to eat (it was porridge after all), but because of the protein from the chicken in it, my mom made me eat it for breakfast. This version however was surprisingly very tasty. There’s not much you can do with porridge, but I think Little Sister did a great job with this. The dish came with a Chinese donut and a spicy sauce that I’m certain was supposed to be for just the donut, however both Kathy and myself decided to put it into our congee and man was it delightful! The spiciness of the sauce added just the right amount of heat to the porridge and really made the dish come alive for me. As for the Chinese donut, it was really crispy, and not at all very chew on the inside, which I actually didn’t’ mind because once I dunk it into the congee, I was all set—it was a great way to end the meal.
If you’re looking for “authentic” cuisine, you’ll have better luck at a hole in the wall restaurant down Reseda Blvd. (SFV peeps you know what I’m talking about). However if you’re in the mood for some really good Asian fusion, have a friend that can’t really commit to trying new things, or wanna seem like a cultured hipster to your next date – this place is definitely your jam! I would and have gone back again with my co-workers (it’s too close not to!) and it’s a hit with all of them!