These days, it’s not exactly hard to find a pop-up around town. So when on the look out for one, unique themes and meal times will catch my eye more than others. Good thing Chef Connie Tran is launching her centrally located Sunday Vietnamese brunch pop-up on Melrose.
It’s a refreshing survey of her style of Vietnamese dishes. Because sometimes, you just want to go beyond a bowl of pho, and for multiple courses. And the option to BYOB is always a great way to go.
I loved the vibrant flavors of the brunch, which kicked off with a savory bowl of modern congee, or rice porridge – after extracting myself from a quickly attained addiction to the spiced boiled peanuts that were set on the table. It’s hard to argue with modernization in the form of lardon crisps, poached egg and sage brown butter, really. A refreshing salad, pleasing to the eye, follows with burrata, fennel and a light lemon dressing.
You’ll wrap sheets of woven vermicelli around deliciously grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves and grilled tumeric catfish – finished off with herbs – like basil. Then you’ll dip them in n??c ch?m, tender to the bite and easy to sink your teeth into.
And then come the Braised Galangal Pork with boiled quail eggs and coconut molasses, Grilled Honey Prawns with okra (keep your eye on the bird’s eye chili) and carmelized shallots, and finally Asian Eggplant with Grilled Corn and Purple Perilla Scallion Oil. All of these family-style little dishes served with Jasmine rice are contrasts with each other and flavorful. Kabocha squash pudding and Coconut Gelato Sandwich are just enough to elegantly sate your sweet tooth for the finale.
No alcohol is served, so you’re free to bring your own libations. But I do recommend the pickled plum soda for some cheek-sucking, effervescent pleasure. In all, you’ve never had a brunch as bright as this.
on the table
spiced boiled peanuts
chao sang: rice porridge, lardon crisps, poached egg, sage brown butter
starfruit, fennel, burrata, bibb lettuce, lemon balm dressing
bo la lot: grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf, roasted peanuts
cha ca thanh long: grilled turmeric catfish, dill, green scallions, roasted peanuts, sesame crackers
served with vermicelli cakes, mixed herbs & nuoc cham
thit kho: braised galangal pork, quail eggs, coconut molasses, BEP picklins
tom rang: grilled honey prawns, okra, bird chili, caramelized shallots, northern mint
ca tim: asian eggplant, grilled corn, purple perilla scallion oil
served with jasmine rice
coconut gelato sandwich: chili sesame cookies
kabocha pot de crème, vietnamese yogurt, peanut ginger brittle
chrysanthemum mint tea (hot/iced), pickled plum soda, vietnamese coffee (hot/iced)
Further reading: Interview with Chef Connie Tran on LA Magazine Digest Blog
All food and drink were hosted.