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.
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