Minh Phan is back in action in Historic Filipinotown, having quietly reopened her popular Beverly Boulevard restaurant Porridge + Puffs last weekend after a few long years away. To put it slightly more specifically, Porridge + Puffs, the long-celebrated comfort food spot that was once a favorite of late food critic Jonathan Gold, has reopened — and owner Minh Phan is just trying to stay out of the way.
“My hope for Porridge + Puffs is that it continues to feed peoples’ souls and stomachs,” says Phan in a statement to Eater. Chef Eleanor Hurrt (Cassia, Tasting Kitchen) is now leading the team at the corner restaurant, with plans to ramp up hours and menu items in the coming weeks and months. Phan, for her part, will be stepping back to allow Porridge + Puffs to grow, and to focus on her tasting menu project Phenakite, other events, and even consulting. “I’m stepping back from day-to-day operations, but always sneaking in to run a seasonal special,” says Phan, who was on hand last weekend to greet longtime regulars and fans who showed up during a few very low-key hours. The restaurant is still getting its bearings, while also adding a small takeaway fridge for pre-batched jars of porridge, shrubs, and other goods.
Phan says that the reopening of Porridge + Puffs has come after years of soul-searching as the pandemic continued, ravaging whole sectors of the restaurant industry and its workers. The current culinary team at the restaurant now ultimately helped to get Porridge + Puffs back on its feet, and Phan wants to allow them to take ownership of the space and its place in the city. “The team would like it to be a vibrant place for community gathering and programming in the future,” says Phan.
Beyond Historic Filipinotown, Phan will be cooking her self-described “ephemeral” dinners under the Phenakite banner at A Forest for the Trees, an art installation and event space in Downtown LA. Previously housed at co-working space Second Home in Hollywood, Phenakite is Phan’s “love letter to Los Angeles,” infusing Vietnamese, California, and other flavors into an infrequent tasting menu. In 2021 Phenakite was named the restaurant of the year by the Los Angeles Times and awarded a Michelin star, though these days the dinners are rarely opened to the wider public.
Phan says that she mostly cooks dinners for customers already on the waiting list for the restaurant, as well as “high-concept collaborations” and private dinners. “Phenakite is where I will continue more rigorous art and academic work, honing ideas and craftsmanship,” says Phan.
For those just looking to experience Porridge + Puffs, it’s open beginning this weekend at 2801 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90057 from Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with plans to operate weekends-only until the team can slowly ramp up production.