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West LA’s Latest Restaurant Explores Modern Vietnamese Cuisine

Khong Ten shows off its big ideas this week

Khong Ten
Khong Ten
Khong Ten
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

There’s new life at the former Freddy Smalls pub space on Pico Boulevard in West LA, thanks to a couple of longtime industry vets. The new project is meant to be an LA exploration of Vietnamese cuisine, operating under the name Khong Ten.

Incoming chef/co-owner Kim Vu tells Eater that the moniker loosely translates to “no name,” a sort of inside joke that also speaks to the nature of the restaurant she’s trying to create. Vu says that Khong Ten will try to hew to staple Vietnamese foods while allowing the ingredients of Southern California to help shape the recipes and direction. “I’m really trying to do a third wave of immigrant cuisine,” Vu says. “I am 100% Vietnamese, but I am nothing like my parents. I’m also nothing like a modern Vietnamese person living in Vietnam.”

Vu adds: “Lately there’s been a lot done about cultural appropriation; there’s a conversation about what’s authentic, what’s original. I want to address authenticity and what that means with my food... If I were to drop the Santa Monica Farmers Market into the middle of Vietnam today, what would those chefs cook with?”

For years, Vu has run her own popular Vucacious Catering company out of the Westside, and has now joined up in her Khong Ten quest with longtime Echo Park bar owner Don Andes (The Holloway, Little Joy). As for the specifics of the restaurant, expect some 60 seats in total, inside and out. The dining area has been largely revamped with velvet banquettes and gold fixtures, and there are plans to more formally cordon off the patio as well.

Expect a full opening next week at Khong Ten with some preview services beginning this week. Hours will run 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. to start, with an expansion to 2 a.m. and into lunch and brunch hours down the line.

Khong Ten. 11520 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.

Khong Ten
The bar