Red Med at the Formosa Since 1925 the Formosa has been a West Hollywood staple for studio executives, famous crooners and mobsters who slid into naugahyde red booths during 3 martini lunches back in the day to count their money. This dimly lit box car has been a cool dive for dozens of years -and the signed black and white celebrity headshots still line the walls, but the Chinese food was never the draw. Enter the crew behind Red Medicine in Beverly Hills, including a menu conceived by Executive Chef Jordan Kahn – and problem solved. Start your evening – at 4pm if you so desire, with a Singapore Sling or a Pisco Sour before ordering crispy coated confit chicken wings, Shanghai rice cakes with bacon, spring rolls with Dungeness crab, poached farm egg with boiled peanuts, or a bahn mi slathered with pate and stuffed with pork belly. The show-stopper is a giant platter of Wagyu beef brisket which has been braised for 36 hours that you can roll into lettuce leaves. Chances are you’re going to want everything on the menu, but don’t feel a bit guilty, they do not have a dessert menu, and you have until 2am to finish everything.
East Borough The team behind Pitfire Pizza (one of the few chains that we like), and extremely popular Superba Snack Bar – Paul Hibler and Chef Jason Neroni, have set up a new shop in Culver City focusing on French Vietnamese dishes. The interiors are similar to Superba with colorful tiled floors, communal tables, front patio and unique design elements such as the massive photographic wall of a Ho Chi Min City street scene. Start with a ‘Kitchen Garden’ cocktail of gin, cucumber, black pepper and celery bitters that will pair well with most dishes. We loved the daikon rice cake with egg; head on blue shrimp; salt and pepper squid which is lightly coated or the tender baby octopus with sweet chili sauce and crispy Brussels sprouts. ‘Common Table’ items include whole roasted chicken, roasted trout and fall off the bone pork shank with crab pate and lettuce cups.
Little Sister By 6pm on any given Saturday night, this cozy modern French-Vietnamese eatery by Chef-OwnerTin Vunong is giving neighbors M.B. Post and Fishing with Dynamite a run for the money with a huge crowd waiting on the sidewalk. The space is industrial cool and date-night cozy at the same time; plus we love a menu that includes a ‘spice table’ with symbols, descriptions and origins to help you decipher some of the more complex ingredients in the cuisine. Musts include the perfectly crispy Vietnamese crepe stuffed with pork belly, prawns, bean sprouts and showered in mint that you can wrap in a lettuce cup – but it’s just as tasty solo. Skinny Singapore noodles with prawns and chunks of juicy pork is another hit along with the salt & pepper lobster. If you just want to sit at the bar and watch the kitchen in action, start with the Balinese style fried meat balls served with banana ketchup for dipping. There are no cocktails on offer but your can order beer, premium – sake or a bottle of rose which pairs well with a cheese plate for dessert.