If Jing Gao and Stephanie Liu Hjelmeseth, the co-founders of Suá Superette in Larchmont Village, have an ounce of nervousness about opening their sleek Sichuan grab-and-go market, it’s impossible to tell. After announcing the store this past spring, Suá opens today, November 9 with a beautifully appointed Zen teahouse-inspired space loaded with prepared salads, noodles, roasted chickens, and sides infused with Gao’s Fly by Jing chiles and seasoned oils.
Gao, the force behind Fly by Jing’s meteoric rise as the premier chile oil purveyor among the millennial set, wanted to open a place where Angelenos could get flavorful organic food that reflected her upbringing in Chengdu, China prepared with a California sensibility. It’s a business model that companies like EveryTable, Pret a Manger, Erewhon, and Whole Foods have propagated with success, though they don’t quite have Suá’s social media cool and chile-tinted recipes.
Expect to find the refrigerated case lined with chicken Caesar salads flecked with chiles, spicy cold soba noodle salads topped with shredded chicken, mala fried lotus chips, spicy fried chicken tenders, wood ear mushroom salads, and chile oil-topped vegan mapo tofu. “We want to show people what we grew up eating,” says Gao. If all goes well, Gao and Hjelmeseth hope to open multiple Suá locations in LA and potentially in other cities.
The duo partnered with popular meal prep and delivery service Organic Oren to prepare Suá’s food locally, working closely with chef Oren Giladi to develop recipes that would last for days in the fridge for those who don’t consume dishes straight away. Gao and Hjelmeseth were both Organic Oren subscribers before linking up with Giladi and his partner Michael Kassar, who is also a co-founder of Wexler’s Deli. Prices range from $5 to $8 for sides and up to $25 for proteins, all of which are made with ingredients on par with upscale restaurants, says Gao.
Gao operated a fast-casual restaurant in Shanghai before relocating to LA, while Hjelmeseth’s family owned one of Orange County’s most prominent Sichuan restaurants, Chong Qing Mei Wei, for 14 years before closing it recently to retire. “We feel like it’s a perfect partnership because [Organic Oren] brings a California produce sensibility, and we bring Sichuan tradition and know-how with no shortcuts,” says Gao.
In addition to prepared foods, there are plenty of drinks that are made on the premises, such as a Jing Palmer that mixes lemonade with lychee green tea. Fresh loose-leaf teas from Standstill Tea with a specific focus on Chinese varieties can be brewed to order. Coffee comes from an Eversys espresso machine brewing beans by House Roots Coffee, a Korean American-owned company that roasts in Little Tokyo. Suá also brews a ceremonial single-origin matcha by Rocky’s. Across the store are Asian American-owned brands of snacks, cookware, and more.
For those dining inside Suá, there are a few counter seats at the wavey stone bar and a low-level bench that surrounds a concrete tree planter. Outside, three green cafe tables are available for sunny patio eating.
Suá Superette is located at 144 N. Larchmont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004, and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.