Creating Genuine, Unique Flavors with a Humble Canvas - The Delicious, Interesting Porridges and More at Porridge and Puffs [Thoughts + Pics]

#1

I still remember the first time I took a bite of the Poultry & Mushroom Porridge at Porridge and Puffs’ 2nd pop-up incarnation at Smorgasburg nearly 3 years ago. If there was ever such a thing as “love at first bite,” this was it.

The late Jonathan Gold had waxed poetic about it 4 years ago, but we never made it to the 1st pop-up. But with that 2nd pop-up 3 years ago, we were delighted and couldn’t wait to return again and again. Sadly, Porridge and Puffs (and Guerrilla Tacos and quite a few others of the 1st wave) left Smorgasburg, moving on to new venues, in Porridge and Puffs case, they headed to Denmark.

So it was with great joy when we heard that Chef Minh Phan had returned to L.A. and was finally able to save up enough money to open up a brick and mortar, full service restaurant. Opening in Historic Filipinotown (near the OG location of The Original Tommy’s on Beverly & Rampart), reading the various updates prior to opening, Porridge and Puffs has been a labor of love.

The fact that Chef Minh Phan chose something as humble as Porridge to be the basis of her menu reflects on Chef Minh herself. Does it matter that Chef Minh Phan worked at Michelin 3 Star Le Bernardin in New York, or later worked at Dragsholm Slot in Denmark? She doesn’t advertise that, nor use it for any PR for Porridge and Puffs. Instead, all you see is Chef Minh earnestly cooking away, carefully preparing every dish that goes out to the customers. When she gets a small break, she’ll come out and thank every guest and table, and not in a “fine dining / haughty” way seen in some haute cuisine restaurants, but it’s a genuine sense of gratitude that we would be able to stop by and try her cooking.

The dining room is made up of simple, clean white walls, with a rustic, cute “tree” of dried herbs and flowers along the largest wall. The soundtrack is something that would fit on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, relaxing, soothing, different.

Jasmine Iced Tea:

Fragrant, refreshing, unsweetened Jasmine.

Hibiscus-Shiso Shrub:

Unique, tasting like a less sweetened version of Jamaica with a pleasing note of Shiso Herb. :slight_smile:

Fennel + Duck with Spicy Spaetzle (Made with Rice and Cassava, the Spaetzle Dumplings are Made To Order and Tossed with Roasted Duck and Fennel, Spicy Peanut-Sesame Sauce, Topped with Pickled Cucumbers, Sprouts and Other Crispy Stuff):

Chef Minh eschews traditional Spaetzle preparations of an Egg and Flour base, and creates a version with Rice and Cassava, which results in something lighter, with a more pleasing chew and better complements this dish.

While the Peanut-Sesame Sauce might evoke something vaguely Thai or Indonesian, the Fennel and Roasted Duck, the Pickled Cucumbers, Fried Garlic and Shallots and Herbs take this in a different direction. It’s unique, and a great starter.

Poultry + Mushroom Porridge (Sweet Soy Braised Chicken, Turkey, Mushrooms. Crispy Shallots, Celery Pickles, Seasonal Edible Flowers. Mirepoix Rice Porridge. Hibiscus Shiso Pickled Soft Egg):

This 1st visit was around the time of their Grand Opening. The Porridge was a touch thicker than what was featured during their marvelous Pop-Up, but despite that, it was still pleasing, not overcooked, nor mushy, and a great canvas for the Sweet Soy Braised Chicken, Turkey and Mushrooms. The Celery Pickles and Crispy Shallots added another layer we’ve never had before with Porridge. Delicious!

The Hibiscus Shiso Pickled Soft Egg puts to shame most Hanjuku Tamago / Ajitama at most Ramen restaurants, an awesome liquid custardy center, with a real depth of flavor.

Puffs (Naked):

The other part of the restaurant’s name, Chef Minh’s “Puffs” are Fried Rice-Flour vessels, slightly crunchy and a nice textural contrast to dip and eat with the Porridge. They are fine, but we’ve found over the visits, that we’re perfectly happy just enjoying the Porridge flavors as is.

Shortribs Porridge (Slow-Braised Shortribs with Jujubes and Fresh Five Spice. Turmeric Fermented Mustard Greens, Seasonal Edible Flowers + Hibiscus Shiso Pickled Soft Egg):

For those who crave meat, with a full kitchen at her disposal, Chef Minh is able to create dishes like her Slow-Braised Beef Shortribs Porridge, which has this incredible deeply, savory, succulent flavor in every bite. Tender, moist morsels of Beef Shortrib in a braise that goes beyond a traditional Chinese or Korean recipe. I love the Fermented Turmeric Mustard Greens (she pickles and makes all her components in-house), pungent, piquant and the Turmeric lacing helps give it another layer of flavor beyond what you might expect when you read about a Braised Shortrib dish.

Yin Yang Panna Cotta:

Wow! A brilliant Dessert that shows a subtlety and deftness, here we have 2 types of Panna Cotta, one more traditional, and the other with Lapsang Souchong, a smoked Black Tea, with a Toasted Nut Crumble on top.

Firstly, this is not overly sweet at all: It’s very delicate, with a very light sweet note, but then you get some of the Lapsang Souchong Tea flavor coming through, then a bit of the Toasted Nut Crumble, and you have one of the Best Desserts we’ve had this year! :heart:

2nd Visit:

We wanted to see how things progressed a few weeks after Grand Opening.

Jasmine Iced Tea:

Pickles + Jam Porridge (Makrut-Lemongrass Spicy Jam, Seasonal Pickles, Negi Porridge):

First, it was with great joy that the Porridge on this 2nd visit had been restored to the ethereal quality of her Pop-Up: A bit less thick, beautifully cooked, and like no other Porridge we’ve ever had.

To understand the greatness of this dish is to look deeper at the creation of the dish. Chef Minh uses Koda Farms Organic Kokuho Rose Heirloom Rice. Some restaurants might stop at that and just use it as something that looks nice on a menu. But it goes deeper. Chef Minh got to know Robin Koda (who now runs Koda Farms (in South Dos Palos, California), taking it over from her grandfather and parents). She gives a heartfelt shoutout to Robin Koda, and points out a new article in Vogue highlighting Robin and other survivors of the Japanese-American Internment Camps during WWII. (@bulavinaka it is a heartbreaking read.)


(Courtesy of Vogue)

Robin Koda personally delivers the Kokuho Rice and unloads the Rice herself to Chef Minh. Reading the article, this isn’t some glamorous, high profit / “boutique” product, but one that is being kept going to honor the legacy of her predecessors.

You will see Chef Minh regularly talk about a new Vegetable or Herb she’s going to be using and/or pickling for a dish coming up. It is precisely Chef Minh’s passion for understanding and using the local produce from various farmers and drawing out the flavors in them that makes her Pickles & Jam Porridge the greatness that it is.

When you combine her Housemade Makrut-Lemongrass Spicy Jam, whatever Seasonal Pickles she has this evening and that perfectly cooked Koda Farms Organic Kokuho Rose Heirloom Rice Porridge…

It’s like NOTHING I’ve ever had before! :open_mouth:

It’s nuanced, bright, tart, spicy, savory and just one of the BEST BITES I’ve had in years! :heart:

(By the way, it’s Vegan.)

Chef Minh is able to draw out so many great flavors from her personal Pickling and Fermenting of various Farmers Market Vegetables, from understanding the use of various herbs and spices, it’s ridiculous how good this is! :blush:

Yakimiso + Sausage Porridge (Grilled Black Eye Pea Miso with KnK Ranch Nectarines, Ginger and Aromatics. Numbing Spice Braised Pork (Optional). Fennel in Black Bean Sauce. Rose-Geranium Onion and Celery Pickles, Edible Flowers. Negi Rice Porridge):

Let the words “Grilled Black Eye Pea Miso” sit with you for a second. :open_mouth:

And while the menu description seems like a lot of ingredients, it works. I don’t know how, but this just shows more of Chef Minh’s cooking prowess and understanding of flavor combinations.

I enjoyed the combination of the Grilled Black Eye Pea Miso, Rose Geranium Onions, Numbing Braised Pork Sausage and Seasonal Pickles. :slight_smile:

(Special) Black Sesame Tostada Salad:

This was a refreshing Salad, I loved the various Radishes she incorporated, as well as the crunchy snap of a Black Sesame Rice Tostada shell.

Squash + Chrysanthemum Porridge (Kabocha and Chrysanthemum Braised in Coconut Curry. Jasmine Pickles, Herbs, Negi Porridge. 12 Hour Sake Braised Beef Brisket (Optional)):

For those that might’ve only read the dish name “Squash + Chrysanthemum Porridge” and moved on would be missing out on what must be one of the most unique and stunning dishes we’ve had at Porridge and Puffs to date. In fact, even the description portion belies the greatness of the dish as this is far more than just a “Coconut Curry” as well.

The main ingredients of Kabocha Squash and Shungiku (Chrysanthemum) might make you think it might be Japanese in nature. But taking a bite, it’s like nothing I’ve ever had before! It’s not Chinese Curry. It’s not Japanese Curry. It’s not Thai, nor Indian, nor Vietnamese.

This is Chef Minh’s Curry. There’s Fenugreek and Turmeric, subtle notes of Coconut but nothing dominant. It’s herbal, complex and tastes like one of the most unique Curries I’ve ever had in my life! :heart:

I could eat this with her Porridge (or over Rice) all day, multiple times a week! :blush: (@bulavinaka @PorkyBelly @Bookwich @J_L @ipsedixit and others)

3rd Visit:

By day, with the sun pouring in, Porridge + Puffs goes from a relaxing, quiet, intimate setting, to something bright and cheerful with its simple white walls and large windows.

Jasmine Iced Tea:

Poultry + Mushroom Porridge (Sweet Soy Braised Chicken, Turkey, Mushrooms. Crispy Shallots, Celery Pickles, Seasonal Edible Flowers. Mirepoix Rice Porridge. Hibiscus Shiso Pickled Soft Egg):

By this 3rd visit, especially with their amazing Porridge dialed in, the Poultry & Mushroom Porridge goes to outstanding! :heart: A perfect texture on the Porridge, fantastic slivers of Sweet Soy Braised Turkey and Chicken. I love the crunchiness from the Crispy Shallots and the Hibiscus Shiso Soft Egg is a great match again. :slight_smile:

Squash + Chrysanthemum Porridge (Kabocha and Chrysanthemum Braised in Coconut Curry. Jasmine Pickles, Herbs, Negi Porridge. 12 Hour Sake Braised Beef Brisket (Optional)):

To be sure one of the greatest Curries we’ve ever tried wasn’t a mirage, we had to try it again on this visit:

As fragrant, savory, herbal, nuanced, complex as before! And I loved Chef Minh’s use of the 12 Hour Sake-Braised Beef Brisket, which was wonderful in its depth of flavor, meaty, succulent, tender with flavors that probably were the essence of the Japanese Sake reduced down in the braise.

It is an outstanding Curry and something worth ordering when you see it on the menu! :heart:

4th Visit:

Peri Coffee Drip:

Lightly nutty, beautiful aroma, utilizing Peri Coffee (a local Coffee roaster and supplier).

Pickles + Jam Porridge (Makrut-Lemongrass Spicy Jam, Seasonal Pickles, Negi Porridge):

It seems the Pickles + Jam Porridge just gets better and better each time we order it. I fell in love with it 3 years ago during her Pop-Up, and by this visit, it has surpassed the incredible flavors that hit me during our previous visit: It’s just the wonderful combination of herbal, aromatic, savory, tart, a bit of crunchy and smooth and luscious from the Porridge base. :blush:

Poultry + Mushroom Porridge (Sweet Soy Braised Chicken, Turkey, Mushrooms. Crispy Shallots, Celery Pickles, Seasonal Edible Flowers. Mirepoix Rice Porridge. Hibiscus Shiso Pickled Soft Egg):

Seriously.

Even better than before, I love how distinctly savory this is with a good poultry essence coming through in each bite. :heart:

5th Visit:

Asian Herb Slaw (with Rau Ram, Shiso, Holy Basil, Peanuts, Sesame):

I’ve had Rau Ram in various Vietnamese dishes before (part of the Herb & Vegetable plate given out to add to Pho or Cha Gio), but the use of it here in her Herb Slaw is brilliant: It really shines along with the Shiso and Holy Basil. It’s crunchy, herbal, nutty, and tasting like no “Coleslaw” I’ve had before. :slight_smile:

Cukes + Seaweed (Prickly Ash Pickled Cucumber and Kombu. Topped with Seasonal Fruit and Flora):

This was probably the only miss we’ve encountered so far: It wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t a lot of distinctive flavors coming from the Cucumbers. From the description, we were hoping for Prickly Ash notes to come through.

The Velvet Porridge (Heirloom Squash. Koda Farms Heirloom Rice and Brown Butter Simmered Together in this Decadent Porridge. Topped with Duck Stock Poached Herb Mochis, Numbing Spice Braised Wintermelon. + Duck Chicharrones):

One bite and you can see why they called this “The Velvet.” Extremely smooth, lush mouthfeel, thicker than Chef Minh’s usual creations, but it had this smooth decadence about it. I loved the Numbing Spice Braised Wintermelon and the Duck Chicharrones (crispy). :slight_smile:

6th Visit:

Vietnamese Cold Brew:

This was Chef Minh’s version of Cafe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee). Great Coffee flavor, not overly sweetened but quite tasty.

(Special) Shakshouka Porridge:

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how gorgeous each of Chef Minh’s Porridge creations are: They are visually pleasing to the eye, there’s a sense of color, natural beauty (usually with Flowers) and it looks like something handcrafted. The Shakshouka is stunning with the colors appearing on the plate. :blush:

The first notes that hit you might be a bit of the Pickled Asian Pear in Passion Fruit, which works so well in the fantastic umami-bomb of a Sauce of Tomatoes and Bell Peppers long stewed, with a Soft Egg and topped with Spring-like Radish Sprouts. It’s a great homage to Shakshouka.

Shortribs Porridge (Slow-Braised Shortribs with Jujubes and Fresh Five Spice. Turmeric Fermented Mustard Greens, Seasonal Edible Flowers + Hibiscus Shiso Pickled Soft Egg):

Fantastic! Just as good as the previous version we had a few visits ago. :slight_smile:

Japanese Sweet Potato Bread Pudding (with Fresh Whip and Seasonal Crunch + Spice):

This was a total surprise: We’ve had plenty of Bread Pudding before, but Chef Minh takes this dish and turns it on its head with a beautiful mixture of Japanese Sweet Potatoes in the Bread Pudding, adding a natural earthy sweetness, and then some airiness with the Fresh Whipped Cream and using Kinako with Ginger Crumbles. It’s brilliant and like nothing we’ve had before! :blush:

7th Visit:

In celebration of the Lunar New Year (and Year of the Pig), Chef Minh created a special Lunar New Year Menu for 2 nights, which allowed her to focus on creating new dishes to honor and pay homage to Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, and show off more of her creativity.

Jujube & Orange Blossom Cocktail:

Light, floral, refreshing. :slight_smile:

Amuse - Radish + Herbs + Yuzu Butter. Hoshigaki + Kosho Butter:

Nice plating. The Amuse Bouche of Hoshigaki & Kosho Butter was the only hiccup of the evening: The Hoshigaki (Dried Persimmon) was delicious, but the Kosho Butter felt unnecessary here. The Radish & Herbs and Yuzu Butter on the other hand was a nice integration of flavors.

Mochi Dumpling (Porchetta, King Oyster Mushrooms, Platycodon, Ginger, Fermented Fig Leaves, Beet Dashi, Numbing Verbena Oil):

A tribute to the traditional Vietnamese dish Bánh Dày, Chef Minh said she grew up eating this during Lunar New Year, and wanted to make her version for this menu. The Handmade Mochi Dumpling was fantastic, a nice, delicate chew for the Pounded Rice, which gives way to a savory, porcine flavor coming through from the Porchetta filling within.

It could’ve been easy to rest on her laurels as is, but then you get more depth of flavor from the King Oyster Mushrooms, Fermented Fig Leaves, Ginger within.

And then you mix in some of the Beet Dashi with Numbing Verbena Oil and it’s just another level. I have no idea what insane magic Chef Minh must be conjuring up here, but this isn’t some hamster / “elevated vegan” wanna-be creation: It tastes like an INCREDIBLE OG, Legit Japanese Dashi, but somehow it’s incorporating Beets(!) to give it a natural sweetness and earthiness, but it doesn’t overpower the Dashi!

It is outstanding! :heart:

SPRING! (Gooseberry + Spring Peas with Tofu and Koji-Sesame Cream, Early Plums, Spanish Olive Oil):

Perhaps not the most photogenic dish we’ve seen before, but still nicely plated. It is only fitting that this humble little dish of Tofu turned out to be the best dish of the evening:

Here in L.A., we’ve been blessed by many great versions of Housemade Tofu, from Aburiya Raku’s fantastic creations (like their Oyaji Tofu, Agedashi Tofu, etc.), to a mastery of austere interpretations such as Mori Sushi’s, to the simple, but so fresh and clean versions made daily in-house at places like V.P. Tofu, and more, but Chef Minh’s “SPRING!” celebration which mixes Gooseberries(!) and Spring Peas in with her Handmade Tofu, with Koji (a beneficial fungus used for making Sake and Soy Sauce) is simply RIDICULOUS! :heart:

The flavors that hit my palate were indescribable, but I’ll try: It was lightly earthy, nutty, a real complex umami (perhaps from the Koji infused Sesame Cream), some delicate sweetness (nothing sugary) from the Spring Peas and Gooseberries and the Early Plums. There’s a fragrant lusciousness from the finishing of the Spanish Olive Oil and as crazy as it sounds, the whole thing just works together!

I have never experienced a combination of flavors like this before. It is restrained, yet SO GOOD! :heart: :blush: :heart:

BEST BITE OF 2019 (so far)! :heart:

Rice Cake (Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake Stuffed with Mung Beans, Black Pepper Berkshire Pork Belly. Finished with White Soy and Fermented Chili, Pickled Long Beans, Daikon, Carrots and Peewee Red Onions):

This was a tribute to the traditional Vietnamese dish of Bánh Chưng, also something Chef Minh would eat with her family growing up during Vietnamese New Year. I’ll leave it up to our FTC experts (@Ns1 @attran99 @hppzz) to see how it compares to OG Vietnamese Bánh Chưng, but this was another incredible dish on this evening!

A fantastic crispy Rice exterior gives way to tender, meaty Berkshire Pork Belly. But what was even better were those innocuous looking small dots of Sauce on the plate. In some more self-absorbed restaurants, little dots of Sauce on a plate might be more for decoration, but here they are flavor bombs! This didn’t taste like any typical “Soy Sauce” or “Oyster Sauce” or any of the common Sauces one might expect. It had some notes of Soy Sauce, but it was far more complex, and it paired so well with the Crispy Rice Cake. :blush:

I loved her Housemade Chili Sauce as well, which was more complex than, say, Sriracha or some mass produced offering.

Even the Long Beans, Pickled Carrot and Peewee Onions were all pickled / fermented and were fantastic foils for the Rice.

Good Luck Porridge (Diver Scallop Porridge, Cured Sausage + X.O. Sauce, Sansho Butter, Nasturtiums, Lemongrass Porridge):

Really.

Besides a perfectly cooked Scallop - silky, delicate, tender - the little bits of her own Housemade Cured Sausage mixed in with a Housemade X.O. Sauce was just absurd in how good this was! :heart:

Add in Sansho Butter, which just works so beautifully here, adding just a touch of fatty lusciousness, and a nice enticing hit of Sansho Pepper, a brightness from the Lemongrass Porridge and Nasturtiums to accent things, and you have something unique and flavor combinations we just haven’t experienced before.

Outstanding! :heart:

Cleanse (Oro Blancos + Unripe Melon, Tarragon, Peach Blossoms):

Ostensibly this looked like just some Fruit cut up and thrown together, but there was a delicate steeping liquid that bound all of the ingredients together. It was refreshing and a nice segue to finish off the evening.

Sweet (Milk Bread Pudding + Okinawan Sweet Potatoes + Spices):

This was a variation on the previous Japanese Sweet Potato Bread Pudding we had on our previous visit. Served warm, it actually had less sweetness than the already lightly sweet Japanese Sweet Potato Bread Pudding. It was perhaps a touch bland and not sweet enough (and I don’t like too much sugar usually). Still, it was delicate and fluffy and I liked the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

Mignardises (A Little Something Sweet and Spicy to Carry You Through the Rest of the New Year):

These were 4 Handmade Caramels infused with Sichuan Peppercorn(!). It was mainly sweet Caramel and slowly after a few seconds, you suddenly had a very subtle hint of numbing heat. Cute.

8th Visit:

Dark Greens + Gouchujang Porridge (Beets, Radish and other Market Greens Braised in Gouchujang Bechamel. Finished with Armenian-style Nigella Cheese Curds and Panko. Mirepoix Rice Porridge. + Braised Chicken (Optional)):

When we thought things couldn’t get any more radical, we happened to be craving some warm Porridge with these chilly days and here we have yet another awesome Chef Minh creation:

Braised Dark Greens - Beets, Radish and other Greens - are slow cooked in a Gouchujang Bechamel Sauce(!). That already sounds ridiculous, but what’s crazy is that it doesn’t taste like the Korean Gouchujang sweet spicy Sauce at all. There must be some backnote, but when you mix everything together (the dish is baked on high heat to melt and crust up the top), you get this cheesy, oozing deliciousness when you mix what she calls Armenian-style Nigella Cheese Curds together. Once again, it’s wild and interesting and something we have never tasted before! :blush:

Pork Roulade Porridge (Pork Loin Stuffed with Young Wild Chives, Enokis, Perilla. Baby Radishes and Seasonal Pickles. Negi Porridge):

Finally we have a simple, but delicious new seasonal offering with the Pork Roulade Porridge. Tasty. :slight_smile:

For a new startup operation, service has been very friendly and welcoming. The servers are all hospitable and go out of their way to make sure you’re enjoying your meals and refilling drinks without asking. Prices for the Porridges range from $9 - $15.

At the new brick and mortar home of Porridge and Puffs, Chef Minh Phan is using the simple, humble canvas of Porridge to create some truly unique flavors, putting out dishes that delight the senses, pleasing the palate without having to resort to the typical “luxury / bling bling” ingredients that far too many places trying to be “new” / “modern” have resorted to doing (as @beefnoguy @BradFord have noted in some recent L.A. restaurants). You won’t find any over-reliance on Truffles, Uni, A5 Wagyu, Caviar and the like here. And you also don’t find a simple taking of Vietnamese dishes and just using better ingredients.

The interesting flavors experienced at Porridge and Puffs go far beyond just “fusion” or “chef-ifying” traditional classics. Chef Minh’s most amazing dish could arguably be her simplest: The Pickles & Jam Porridge, that happens to be Vegan, but she somehow manages to pull out incredible depth of flavor from the various Housemade Pickled Vegetables and by fermenting this Makrut-Lemongrass Jam, and adding it to a quality base like Koda Farms Organic Kokuho Rose Heirloom Rice. I’ve never had a flavor combination like that before. That’s how distinct it is.

The same can be said for that incredible Lunar New Year menu she put together and the humble, simple Gooseberry and Spring Peas Housemade Tofu. I’m still dreaming about how incredible that was.

Sitting down and eating through Chef Minh’s various dishes, you can see how she took her experiences from her training at Le Bernardin and her Vietnamese heritage to create something far greater than either of those facets combined. She has created truly unique flavors that are simply hers. And that’s something worth celebrating.

(Note: Dinner menu has more selections and specials than the Lunch menu.)

Porridge and Puffs
2801 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Tel: (213) 908-5313

15 Likes
#2

She is the best! Her food is one of the only ones that gave me memories and emotions that were conjured up like the Anton Ego scene in Ratatouille.

2 Likes
#3

Great report as always @Chowseeker1999. I’m surprised you didn’t try one of my favorite dishes there, the brown butter mochi with miso caramel.

Ps I think you meant Le Bernardin.

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#4

Hi @PorkyBelly,

Thanks! :slight_smile: And thank you for catching that typo. :wink:

Ah! We saw the Brown Butter Mochi but we were too full to order it. :cry: Next time! Thanks.

#5

This is so far off base from the porridge I grew up with I don’t know how to process it

3 Likes
#6

I thought I was too but ordered it anyway for research purposes. Praise the lord for whoever invented 6-way stretch pants.

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#7

Chowseeker has never let me down in recs

To be honest, there is ALOT going on in those porridges. I mean edible flowers? With what looks like an already seasoned and flavored porridge with all those pickles on top of that…ehhh I guess I have to try it to be fair

#8

This. She could have called it chao like her vietnamese heritage—but she didn’t because that’s too restrictive (the elders and young in’s would cry foul and balk at the prices) But porridge is more of a broader canvas without the preconceived notions or limitations that anyone can attach to it.

When we eat her food, we automatically stop to try to figure out how it compares to OG things because the way she takes ingredients in so many different directions, it just doesn’t work. Yes there may be Malabar spinach or some other herbs common in Vietnamese cuisine but it would be prepared in completely unexpected way.

Fanatic review as usual and you hit the nail on the head—no bling bling, just working with simple ingredients through pickling and fermentation or unexpected uses is where she shines. We were so inspired by her we even had a porridge bar for our daughter birthday party recently.

4 Likes
#9

I’m so very interested, what a great report. I can never have too many pickled things. Road trip, eastbound for Pickles and Jam Porridge!

2 Likes
#10

Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Yah, definitely the menu description might look like there’s a lot going on, but the crazy part is that it works (at least for our palate). You know I love OG authentic, simple dishes, and I can appreciate fine dining tasting menus when done correctly. Chef Minh’s cooking feels like it’s from the heart. It’s not traditional cooking, but at the same time, it’s not haute cuisine nor “fusion” cuisine that we’ve seen with so many places recently either.

It’s just unique, but not for the sake of “art” or some weird esoteric calling. She’s just cooking stuff you wouldn’t find at, say, OG places in Little Saigon or Sam Woo, etc. and the flavors we’ve tried have been enjoyable. Thanks.

2 Likes
#11

Thanks for the review. This place certainly looks very interesting but is it just me or is the portion ridiculously small for the price? After all, porridge is dirt cheap to make…

#12

Not with those ingredients. And they’re composed dishes with multiple components carefully plated, not just ladled out of a pot. Lots of prep.

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#13

What I meant is that the actual porridge portion of the dish should be a lot bigger since it’s just broth and rice.

1 Like
#14

Another fantastic report (8 visits?!?!?!?)

I never thought I would see porridge plated with tweezers. We’ve reached the end.

1 Like
#15

That’s clearly not the balance she’s looking for. They’re composed dishes.

#16

" On top rest strips of boiled chicken and sliced mushrooms (usually woodear and shiitakes), tangled in their shades of beige and russet. Garnishes pop: pickled celery, frizzled shallots, a small hill of chopped green onions."

Now I’m even more confused, none of those ingredients seem especially expensive or labor intensive to prep. So why do we only get a seemingly minuscule amount of porridge and chicken?

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#17

What if she called it risotto?

Is the portion size much different than Sqirl’s?

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#18

If each porridge is cook to order like a risotto, then it’s a different story.

#19

Just seems like you have very strong opinions about the price for knowing precisely nothing about the labor or price of her ingredients, or what she’s learned about what is necessary to make the business actually work, having had pop-ups that were ultimately not sustainable economically in the past.

#20

Precisely, it’s a very subjective, but reasonable view, through the lens of a typical consumer. Other than the price of chicken that she’s using, I’m pretty sure I know how much organic celery, shallots, green onions, shiitakes, and woodear costs since I stock them at home very often. It’s also not difficult to deduce the amount of labor it takes to, pickle, frizzle, and chop these ingredients.

Again, it’s obviously a subjective view, but as a consumer that had seen numerous variations of porridge, it’s only reasonable to draw on those comparisons in terms of price and portion size even though the current price/portion ratio might be the only way for said business to be profitable.


Note: I’m not disparaging the business. In fact, I would love to try this place soon. This is just a discussion of a subjective view on portion size of porridge.

1 Like