This week, Jonathan Gold heads Downtown to give his take on Little Sister, Tin Vuong's second outlet of his popular Manhattan Beach eatery, but with all-day eatery vibes. Like the review of the South Bay original, Jonathan Gold dubs the cuisine as "anti-fusion" with dishes like "raw beef hand-chopped with pear and pine nuts in the manner of the Korean raw-beef dish yuk hwe but spanked with Sichuan peppercorns like something out of Chengdu [and] fried "Balinese" meatballs that could have doubled as Lebanese kibbe."
The Goldster describes Vuong's dishes as having a "certain rude vitality, sometimes deliberately unfinished — a bowl of organy fried sweetbreads on a bed of aggressively spiced ramen noodles almost dares you to like it — and sometimes just a little more fishy, tart or acerbic than you are used to finding outside the San Gabriel Valley or Little Saigon."
Overall, it's a positive review, with the Times critic recommending the #SGV banh mi, ma la beef tartare, steamed black cod with fermented flavors, lemon grass chicken, and congee:
There are cheaper congees in town — also way more expensive ones — but the Little Sister version is unusually satisfying, spiked with shrimp, soft tofu and baby scallops, perhaps, or salted cod with stracciatella-like strands of egg white, or poached chicken. The congee is less funky than the kind you get at places like Har Lam Kee or Delicious Food Corner, and the nuggets of fried dough that come with it are as reminiscent of New Orleans beignets as the classic youtiao, but the tart pickles are crunchy and nicely fermented, and the strong Vietnamese iced coffee you can order to go with it is at least a step or two up from the super-sweet Hong Kong-style coffee you'd get across town. I especially like the duck congee, based on a dark, well reduced stock that actually has the smack of recently roasted duck.