I’ve been dying to visit LSXO by Chef Tin Vuong. I’ve been to Little Sister, his fusion concept in Manhattan Beach, and remember enjoying my meal there. LSXO, or “Little Sister XtraOrdinary” is tucked away behind a wooden door within Bluegold restaurant at Pacific City, in Huntington Beach. It is a bit of a secret for those not in the know, but the moment I stepped inside, I was super stoked at how incredibly intimate and chic this small 28-seater space is.
Make a reservation if you’re planning to visit LSXO. No, it’s not a suggestion, it’s a requirement, that is, if you don’t want to be turned away, and deal with disappointment. The positive side is, LSXO offers many opportunities for you to visit including lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and beyond.
We are famished, so we ordered a bunch of dishes straight away. Bot Chien ($11) is a rice and taro cake egg crepe. Cubes of rice cake and taro cake are dotted within an egg crepe – thin omelette – with bits of lap cheung (dry Chinese sausage), dried baby shrimps, pork, scallions and a hint of Maggi sauce, something every child growing up in southeast Asia is very familiar with. This is the crux of seasonings in a southeast Asian homes.
I love banh mi – Vietnamese sandwich – and #SGV ($12) jumps out at us immediately. The baguette is crusty, and the pork charred and flavorful. My only gripe with this sandwich is how scant the do chua (pickled daikon and carrot) is as opposed to the house-made egg yolk mayonnaise. I wanted more of the pickles, and a pinch of fresh cilantro would have helped immensely to counteract the heavy-handed mayo on the bread.
Growing up, rice porridge is something we associated as comfort food, or eaten when we’re feeling under-the-weather. Chao ($11-$14) is the Vietnamese version of “jook” and it is thin in consistency – just the way I like it. Ours is dotted with shrimp, baby scallop, soft tofu and salted pork ($14). Eat it with giò cháo quẩy the Chinese cruller that usually accompanies a bowl of rice porridge in the East. This is our version of chicken soup!
Perhaps one of the best dishes we tried is from the section entitled “Rice Paper”. Pho Banh Cuon ($11), a plate of four rice sheet rolls stuffed with beef and tendon, herbs, lettuce, and pickled onion is mindblowingly good. Close your eyes and each bite is reminiscent of a spoonful of pho in your mouth, even if visually, it might throw you off a bit.
Under the category “Salad and Vegetables” you must choose Rau Muong Xao ($8) a savory plate of crunchy ong choy, or water spinach, quickly stir fried with fermented soy beans. It is just the way it should be, with piquant flavors that tantalizes your taste-buds, making you long for more. This dish is best eaten with a bowl of steamed rice.
I’ve never had Bun Thang ($12) before, but this home-style soup noodles with chicken, pork, and egg possesses a comforting appeal, but I wanted something fresh in there. Since I am unfamiliar with this dish, I’m not certain what ingredients are typically used, but a handful of fresh cilantro or scallions would have brightened it up a bit.
My least favorite dish is Shaky Shaky Beef ($28) better known as bo luc lac, and my son’s favorite whenever we eat Vietnamese food. The large chunks of beef are chewy, and I would have liked a better char on it. The accompanying watercress salad is delightful, and the tomato garlic fried rice, simply sublime.
I can’t wait to return to LSXO again. I enjoyed the food, the company, and the great space. Reservations are a must since LSXO is small and intimate. You don’t want to show up and be disappointed when they turn you away.
at Bluegold Restaurant
21016 Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92648