Little Sister Downtown

It’s a smallish place, with about 50 seats, nicely built-out. We sat at the bar where you can see them prepare some of the dishes. Service was over the top, presumably because they must be training people. But there were about 20 people working there, as compared to 50 seats (12 guests when we were there, so the staff outnumbered the guests).

Chef Tin Vuong was there keeping an eye on things as there’s a LOT of prep necessary for this menu.

The menu is similar to the MB location with the same sections, but slightly different items.

Banh mi was the best I’ve ever had, and at $8 it’s a bargain. We ordered the SGV special with Vietnamese cold cuts grilled pork, peanuts, pate and the normal veggies served on a fresh roll with a nice crust. It’s a good sized sandwich, larger than most, and it’s served with a small bowl of pho broth. The quality of the ingredients was miles ahead of the normal banh mi sandwiches I have in Little Saigon.

Like other Asian restaurants, the food comes out in whatever order they damn well want to bring it out. And the banh mi came out first. Which is good because my taste buds hadn’t been destroyed yet, but bad because it set a very high bar.

Dumplings were served with a vegetable that was a cross between a green bean and okra. I’m sure people more familiar with this type of food will know it immediately. It had a very slight kick to it, and very fresh to the palate. But it was missing something. Maybe something sour? Anyway, it was not my favorite.

E-Fu Noodle was another hit. Obviously house-made, they were a little thick and had a nice chew. And they were served with twice cooked pork belly. The crunchy texture of the pork belly was fabulous, and the salty/gamey/smoky flavor was well suited to the slightly sweet sauce on the noodles.

Ma Po Doufu (cold tofu), like all the dishes, was presented beautifully, although there was an unfamiliar taste that just missed it for me. But in fairness, I was quite full by the time this dish rolled out.

We also had a side of pickles with Szechuan peppercorns, which were a good counterpunch to some of the dishes, but I didn’t taste the peppercorns.

Little Sister
523 W 7th Street, half block east of Grand
DTLA

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Thanks for your report. That’s indeed a high staff : customer ratio.

Note that “ma po doufu” does not mean “cold tofu,” but rather the name refers to the tofu of a “pockmarked grandmother.” It’s often served hot. That’s certainly a nontraditional presentation; in fact, it almost reminds me more of Korean “dubu buchim” of sorts. Since it seems like they have a Vietnmaese-based pan-Asian menu, maybe Little Sister is doing some kind of fusiony take on “ma po doufu” (serving it cold is odd) with some Korean or other influence - maybe that’s why there was an unfamiliar taste?

is this related to the fucking joint in Manhattan Beach ???

Thanks man.

Yes. It’s related to the MB location.

Walked by this weekend, and SWMBO (h/t @linus) straight up said: that’s Vietnamese food and an $8 banh mi. Not going inside, ever.

So there’s that. non sequitur: Barrel Down has a decent burger. And fantastic fries.

As does Trencher.

So is it a different menu than the MB original then?

Surely they are using much higher quality ingredients, and situated in a far more expensive part of town than the places selling banh mi for $3?

I’d pay a solid $15 if Bryant Ng brought back that pork belly banh mi.

I am sure we all would. I really wonder why he didn’t bring it back. But I suppose I am content with his laksa returning.

Nope.

And what does “higher quality ingredients” have to do with anything, much less of the “much higher” variety?

We’re talking banh mi here. Would you pay $10 for a PB&J if it had, say, peanut butter ground by mortar and pestle from heirloom peanuts from the Incan empire? Artisan jelly? Spread with fine silverware?

I can’t tell if this is serious or sarcastic because there is a huge ingredient quality difference in a $10 banh mi vs a buy 2 get 1 free $3 banh mi from BMCC.

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“We’re talking banh mi here. Would you pay $10 for a PB&J if it had, say, peanut butter ground by mortar and pestle from heirloom peanuts from the Incan empire? Artisan jelly? Spread with fine silverware?”

Absolutely. $10 sounds like a steal for PB&J given the ingredients listed.

I guess I’m totally lost. Better ingredients = more expensive as far as I know. Is that a myth of some sort? Is prime beef the same price as choice in reality?

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ew, BMCC.

I kinda just don’t want an “artisanal” banh mi. Surely Little Sister is fantastic though. Somebody go and find out.

I can’t find their menu what’s different from MB?

Went tonight for dinner and had the best fucking beef tartare dish in they city but also had a crappy sweetbread dish.

The imperial rolls were well done but nothing special.

Highlight of the night was the ma la beef tartare with pear, pine nuts, a quail egg and melt bone marrow poured over the top. The beef had a nice heat that didn’t overpower and the melted bone marrow and quail egg gave it just the right richness.

The e-fu noodles had a nice chew and flavor but i was disappointed they replaced the crispy pork belly for a few slices of shredded pork.

I had high hopes for this next dish of crispy sweetbreads, ramen noodles, mushroom froth and shaved tendon. The sweetbreads were no longer crispy and the ramen noodles were extremely bland.

Vietnamese coffee flan was good but tasted more like a chocolate budino.

Wasn’t really impressed with Trencher. It’s near me and convenient but I haven’t returned after my first visit.

Where’s Alkiegourmand to insist he/she only eats banh mi made from heritage pork and garnished with veggies that were grown and fertilized with the night-soil of vegetarian virgins, all for the low price of $75 a sammie?

Idk how you got such good photos in that place, but I forgot I went to Little Sister a while back and forgot to post about it.

I was super sad that the DTLA locaition does not serve the signapore noodles, by far my favorite dish that Little Sister does, so I’ll have to go back to the MB one.

I guess people more in the know of Vietnamese food might hate this place, but to me, things taste better here than pretty much any other Vietnamese place. Ingredients taste better in the autumn rolls, sauce is delectable, and they’re huge.

I thought the Bo Kho was delectable, made with a particular finesse. So viscous with all the oxtail, and tendon. Great with the crusty baguette, and liver butter. I thought it was a pretty solid dish. I took most of it home since it was HUGE, and my mother thought it was one of the best things she’d even had shrugs The dish also comes with rice if you can believe it, but I forgot to photograph it. It’s a ludicrously large dish to me for $22, it could feed 2-3 by itself probably depending upon appetite.

I guess my sweetbreads weren’t necessary super crispy either, but they were perfectly tender, and supremely tasty to my palette. Among the best sweetbreads I’ve ever had. In my experience it’s rare to find chefs that can make sweetbreads so creamy in texture. With the al dente ramen noodles, and the awesome onion-y sauce coating it, it was one of my favorite things I’ve eaten in recent memory actually, super addictive, despite being so rich.

Also, I love the black egg, the house pickles, and the sambals, especially the green sambal there.

Black Egg

Pickles

If people can direct me where to get better versions of things like dry sweet bread ramen, I’d sure like to go try them out. But for now, in my ignorance, Little Sister tastes pretty damn fine. With some wine, including tax and tip the whole meal was only $75, and since I took half of it home, it would’ve only been $37/person with someone to join me. Been eating a lot in that price range lately, and haven’t really found anywhere better to my tastebuds in that range.

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Disclaimer: I was starving and one of the joints (which shall remain nameless) on the same street was out of 2 things I wanted on the concise menu.

Little sister is a solid option in DTLA if you don’t order the Vietnamese dishes:

Amuse pickles:

Fried okra:

Grilled baby octopus

Steamed black cod (looking at the photos, it seems they’re really into scallion sprouts)

Dolce de leche:


(Skip any dessert with “gelato” as only the ice creams are paojetted in-house)

Service was friendly, attentive; restaurant oddly not annoyingly loud. The cold station bar seating was evocative of Mozza, tho staffed by a young man who looked no older than 16 instead of Nancy. The staff was markedly less asshole-ish than those recently found at say, Otium.

3-ish course din for 2, one drink, after 3% BOH fee, and some tip: $70

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Sounds like a fun game. Sugarfish? Chipotle? Botttega Louis? I guess Sugarfish has the most concise menu out of the bunch…