Vietnamese cuisine happens to be one of my favorites. It’s probably because it is an intersection between French and Asian cuisines. The Vietnamese philosophy is that a dish should be balanced between spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. The majority of the Vietnamese restaurants are located in Orange County. Fortunately for me, a Southeast Asian fusion restaurant, Little Sister, operates in Manhattan Beach.
Since Little Sister offers small plates, I invited my cousins to join us. We each took turns and ordered a dish that appealed to us. LIke many restaurants that serve small plates, each item is served when it is ready. Therefore plates could arrive to your table over a period of time. For our wine, I selected a German riesling: C.H. Berres Impulse Estate Riesling.
The riesling was clean and crisp and paired nicely with the grilled pork spring rolls. I haven’t ordered this Vietnamese version in many years and I forgot how much I enjoyed wrapping each spring roll with lettuce and dipping it into the pungent nuoc cham sauce. The sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors definitely complemented the pork spring rolls.
The Saigon Lemongrass Beef was bathed in chile lime dressing and combined with rice noodle vermicelli. What made this dish special was the topping of cilantro, green onions and microgreens. This nicely complemented the beef and the noodles.
Shaky Shaky Beef is a version of Vietnamese shaking beef. The beef was nicely marinated and served with a side of fresh watercress and baby tomatoes. What looked like Spanish rice was actually tomato garlic fried rice and I was surprised at how tasty it was. The Shaky Shaky Beef was one of my favorite dishes that evening.
The last dish we tried was their Red and Black Rice. It was combined with mussels, shrimp, octopus and sausages. It is married with confit pork, lime leaf aioli and okra. The combined flavor was outstanding and I enjoyed the crunchiness of the black rice. It reminded me of burnt paella rice which is stuck on the bottom of the paella pan.
Unlike many Asian restaurants, Little Sister actually serves dessert. If you filled up like we did, you’ll appreciate that these are small bites called “Petite Pastry”. Further, they are only 3 for $10.00. Our choices were the honey lavender creme brulee, homemade ding dong and the strawberry lava cake. This was the best ding dong we’ve ever had.
Little Sister, 1131 Manhattan Ave. Manhattan Beach, CA 90266