Like, I Really Liked, Little Sister…

Little Sister

Change of menu…I was planning on reviewing a truly amazing, new NYC restaurant, but last Saturday night I had booked in to a brand new place in Manhattan Beach, CA. Due to my LIKE blog last week (if you haven’t read it, get on it!) which I received tons of comments, I had to go with Little Sister. The reason will become obvious in a moment so keep on reading.

I had become aware of Little Sister while in NYC and since David and I are huge Southeast Asian foodies, the menu resonated and I reserved ahead for my first weekend back in Los Angeles.

We love Manhattan Beach…head there often for breakfast at Uncle Bill’s and then long walks on the path towards Hermosa Beach. When Courtny was little we used to bike from our home in Marina Del Rey. I was sure Courtny would have neck issues when she grew up. Put that kid on a bike and it was light’s out in 10 seconds. No matter how we tried to prop up her little head, it would flop over and dangerously dangle. So, as I typically regress, I will force myself to re-focus on meals in Manhattan Beach.

In the 80’s and 90’s, the Copper Kettle and Uncle Bill’s was as good as it got in MB. Now, it is a beach mecca for fab food. David LeFevre’s, MB Post, was the most recent innovator, followed by his smaller restaurant, Fishing With Dynamite and the strategically positioned Strand. Tin Vuong, Little Sister owner and chef, along with chef de cuisine, Michael Segerstrom, has taken it to new heights with, Little Sister.

Little Sister, named in accordance with the team behind Abigaile’s in Hermosa Beach, has created an authentic SE Asian dining experience. The 55-seat establishment opened 2 months ago.

little sister

The place is trendy and modern, but due to all the edgy, but hard surfaces it is incredibly loud. I have perfect hearing, but it was necessary to read the server’s lips all night long. BTW, Jessica Kinoshita, service manager, is an efficient, accommodating and elegant server who dedicated herself  to our complete enjoyment.

The food definitely has a kick. To be honest,  if you are a vegetarian or a fishetarian, the menu is a bit limited…very meaty choices, but you can eat well even if you are restricted.

We started with a grilled prawns salad with green papaya, mango, cucumber, onion, cashews, lemongrass-cilantro dressing ($18). The shrimp was marinated with fresh herbs and lemongrass…fabulous.

Grilled Prawns Salad

We then selected thin egg noodles in garlic oil, sweet soy, crispy shallots and crispy pork bits minus the bits ($8). It fell flat so I asked for my pork bits on the side and it definitely perked up my palate.

Our main was orgasmic…seriously, an unbelievable dish…salt and pepper lobster, fried shallots, chilies and garlic. The lobster was delicate and succulent and you wanted to suck the chrome off of the shell. A return for that dish alone is mandatory.

Salt and Pepper Lobster

Eastside 626 provisions section is inexpensive and worth sampling. We indulged in the lightly fried okra with firm, flavorful tomatoes, lime, mint and fenugreek ($2). Fenugreek is an herb of Indian origin and is great for lactation…not personally applicable, but noteworthy.

Other dishes of note include; Balinese style fried meat balls ($11), imperial rolls with shrimp, crab and pork ($15), charred sugar cane shrimp ($13), steamed red snapper ($32), pork spareribs ($12), pork belly ($13), Vietnamese coconut chicken curry ($18), Shaky beef ($28), Bhutanese red rice, dungeness crab, lamb bacon and a fried egg ($17).

Little sister has an extensive drink list. We ordered Pure Snow Shimizo-No-Mai ($24/bottle), a very appealing, cold, unfiltered sake, served in a heavy pottery carafe cradled in ice.

Chef and owner Vuong has stayed true to his roots. Although born in the San Gabriel Valley, his culinary experiences are deeply rooted in his grandparents and parents homeland. They fled Communist China and Vietnam and migrated to mainland USA from Hawaii. Vuong attended UCLA and the California Academy of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.

Prior to opening Little Sister, he cooked at the St. Regis Hotel and Resort in Monarch Beach and Abigaile restaurant in Hermosa Beach.

Here’s the scoop on why I couldn’t hold off on reviewing Little Sister…we were seated and soon after, 2 twenty-something blonde women settled in next to us. From the moment her ass literally brushed my face as she slid onto the banquette, I was overwhelmed by her presence. I glanced up to witness white corduroy invading my face and wondering if this was a solar eclipse…where am I? Without apologizing, she landed and proceeded to say the word, LIKE, literally 100’s of times in the next 2 hours.

After ordering a bottle of Pinot Grigio (only Bravo Housewives order this liquid crap) every other friggin’ word was like, always book ended by her relationship hardships with men. I had mentioned that it was hard to hear, but her LIKES came across loud and clear. All David and I could do was try to chat and laugh.

When I departed the Like Lunatic looked up and smirked. She uttered like and I could not contain myself. I told her that the reason men didn’t stay with her was because they needed a little more love and a lot less like. Her retort was, “Like, really?” Like, I swear that was her response!

Halfway out the door, the GM, Justin Young, inquired about our experience. I asked him if they could institute a “like free” zone. I proceeded to describe our like experience, not omitting the fact that the service and lobster were stellar.

Like this word is going to drive me like crazy. Anyone have any like suggestions for coping?!

like free zone

Little Sister, 1131 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA. Open Monday-Thursday 5-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday 5;30-12:00am, Sunday 5-10pm. Reservations suggested.

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