The Los Angeles Spotlights: Chef Tin Vuong Will See You Now
Chefs are scary. Tin Vuong, executive chef and co-owner of Little Sister, isn’t one of those chefs. For a dude running a handful of restaurants, including Abigaile, Wildcraft, Dia de Campo, and Steak & Whisky, Vuong couldn’t be chiller. What’s the secret sauce? Probably the ongoing success of his co-founded restaurant group, Blackhouse. Vuong didn’t get his start from divine intervention or family legacy—he went to culinary school as a sort of afterthought and happened to be really, really good at it. Now, Vuong heads Blackhouse with business partner, Jed Sanford. They’re like the Batman and Robin Hood of LA’s food scene, minus the spandex. Together they run six (soon to be seven) shops, each one serving up global favorites. There are no “undertones” or “essences.” There is only good food. The core of Vuong’s philosophy is simple: comfort is king.
Abigaile, Vuong’s first restaurant, started as a free-for-all place for self-expression and experimentation. Now his flagship knows no niche, just a big-ass spice rack. Riding off of Abigaile’s success, Little Sister in Manhattan Beach lives up to its name, the cool little sibling whose lineup is inspired by the European colonization of Southeast Asia. Vuong wanted to do Asian food that was authentic and true, cooked the way it should be cooked without omitting key elements. If you need a hug, Vuong recommends the seafood hot pot with expert assurance: “It’s the shit.” We’re looking forward to Little Sister’s second location coming to DTLA very soon. According to Vuong, the menu is about 80 percent reinvented—but who’s counting? Where Wildcraft is all about sourdough pizza, and Dia de Campo meets Mexico, there’s no shortage of love to go around. (If you do find yourself at Dia, do yourself a favor and order the Big Ass Carnitas.) Vuong’s kitchens pay homage to a melting pot of flavors gleaned from friends and strangers and lays claim all over the culinary map. Vuong’s insatiable energy is on the rise, and in this case, we recommend feeding off it.
Photography by Lanewood Studio