KFI’s notorious open-mawed radio commentators John and Ken spent 15 minutes on Monday attacking everything about the recently opened Gold Line extension, a light rail line that runs from Little Tokyo to East LA. In the process, the pair slammed the L.A.Times for sending four writers (including me) to round up the best restaurants at each of the extension’s stops. (That story, including my contributions at the Soto St. and Indiana St. stops can be found here.) Predictably, John and Ken sink to race-baiting depths, calling East LA a “disgusting illegal alien slum” and wondering why they’ve never seen goat at the “authentic Mexican restaurants” they supposedly frequent.
Comforting Vietnamese classics for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by ALLEN J. SCHABEN / L.A. TIMES
There’s an unquestionable comfort in Hoang Yen’s chao. The Vietnamese congee is a homey, hearty meal of rice boiled down until it takes on a consistency somewhere between that of oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. Even for those whose childhood memories revolve around grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, the porridge possesses an innate familiarity.
All of Hoang Yen’s dishes share that fundamental comfort. Simple pleasures define the year-old restaurant, which replaced a Mexican eatery that was awkwardly grafted onto the backside of late-night standby Luc Dinh Ky. Hoang Yen’s succinct menu of Vietnamese family classics better occupies the narrow space.
The Westminster restaurant is decidedly modern: deep blue tiles climb one wall as if to draw a high-water mark; a flat-screen TV recedes elegantly into the back of the dining room. It’s a clean style cultivated by the Chau family, which runs Hoang Yen with a welcoming air. The result is an open and inclusive space where uniformed electricians lunch alongside young mothers, and businessmen pop in for takeout as they pass through Little Saigon.
Finding halal highlights of Burmese and Malaysian cooking in Inglewood for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by ANNE CUSACK / L.A. TIMES
The Koranic art at Mutiara Food & Market is rattling against the wall, its filigreed details shaken by the groans of a jet passing overhead. When the plane travels out of sight, Mutiara fills with a consuming quiet. The Inglewood restaurant and market is a subdued place, but its unassuming setting belies its rich and varied Burmese and Malaysian cooking.
Mutiara concentrates mostly on the halal highlights of Islamic Burmese cuisine, a hearty cast of curries and kebabs more closely resembling those of India and Pakistan than Myanmar. They’re the dishes of owner Myo Aung’s personal history. His recipes re-create his Myanmar, paeans to the Islamic traditions of both his family and home. (Outside the kitchen, Aung performs a similar service as an imam, leading prayers and instructing the teachings of the Koran.)
Mutiara isn’t his first restaurant venture. Aung used to own Jasmine Market in Culver City but sold it about two years ago and opened Mutiara. Similarities to the former restaurant remain, but Mutiara has a deeper, more complex menu.