Chef Tin Vuong has a slowly growing empire of restaurants in the beach cities, and it's a group of eateries with highly eclectic food. Abigaile in Hermosa Beach is a new American spot with gastropub leanings - think escargot poppers and poutine made with braised lamb belly. Little Sister in Manhattan Beach explores all corners of Southeast Asia, while Día de Campo focuses on Mexican dining, particularly seafood. (You can read our review of Dia de Campo here and of Little Sister here.)
Where does a chef responsible for so many varied flavors find his inspiration? The answer to that obviously goes way beyond the places he likes to eat, but we wondered just the same: Where does Vuong like to spend his time, money and appetite when he's not working? Vuong says that he's a creature of habit rather than a fancy eater, and his choices reflect that. Here are his 10 favorite spots.
10. Costco Food Court
"Chicken baked ... need I say more?"
9. The Hat
"Best pastrami sandwiches. When I'm feeling all American this is my go-to place."
8. Tasty Garden
"Not my favorite Hong Kong cafe, because the original Asian gangster ones have either gone out of business or burnt down. Still, it hits the spot and it's open till 4 a.m."
7. Pepe's Mexican Food
"When I'm feeling for Mexican I go straight to this SGV icon. Been going here since 6th grade and the same dude who worked there then works there now and hooks me up proper. Greasy Mexican that you can't resist."
6. Baccali Cafe & Rotisserie
"Another SGV must. One of my favorite Hong Kong-style cafes. Baked chicken and pasta with shitty fake cheese. My usual is #2 and a coffee and milk tea. Good anytime of day."
5. Elite Restaurant
"If you're in the mood for dim sum, don't miss this place. Food's legit and cheap. Get there early or the wait is about an hour or two."
4. Banh Mi My Tho
"Cheap and good. Been going to this mom-and-pop place since grade school. Prices haven't changed since then and the quality is still the best. Morning coffee and smokes start here."
3. Savoy Kitchen
"Damn good Hainan chicken and rice. Great dipping sauces, fantastic Hong Kong ice tea and cheap. Been going here for 15 years. Always good."
2. Sam Woo
"Peking duck, roasted chicken and chow mein. This place is a fucking staple for me since birth. Down and dirty Chinese food. Unreal authentic Cantonese food and don't hold the MSG please."
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1. Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
"Awesome Vietnamese restaurant. The decor is straight from Costco and the food straight from Saigon. So fucking good."