Here’s the 411 on some newsworthy dining spots in your neighborhood.
BY ERIC ROSEN
FROM LEFT: The restaurant’s traditional Vietnamese soup; 9021Pho chef Kimmy Tang works her magic in the kitchen.
Finally, a casual Beverly Hills noodle shop for power-lunching talent agents, starstruck tourists and exhausted luxury shoppers alike.
Devotees of chef Kimmy Tang’s former restaurant, Michelia, were heartbroken when it closed nearly two years ago but are already flocking in droves to this new Vietnamese café for steaming bowls of pho—the traditional Vietnamese soup—and appetizers such as a deep-fried spring roll with crab, shrimp, chicken, carrots and tree-ear mushrooms.
Tang’s menu reflects the woman herself and is packed with warm, familiar dishes jazzed up by vivacious spices. Entrees include spicy basil chicken with bell peppers and chili and star anise salmon with lemongrass, honey and lime. On the vegetarian side, there are choices such as grilled eggplant with pan-fried garlic, shallots and peanuts and “Buddha” curry over vegan chicken with sweet peas, yams, carrots and onion.
This is Beverly Hills, though, so this isn’t any old soup counter. The simple décor is classy with marble-topped tables and bright-colored wallpaper. The sweet seats are at the counter overlooking Beverly Drive or along one of the leather banquettes with a view of the frenzied kitchen activity—the perfect setting for green-lighting a studio project. 490 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-275-7077; 9021pho.com
After nearly two decades of obscurity since Thomas Keller departed as chef, Checkers Downtown restaurant is back on the scene, as is its hotel, Hilton Checkers Los Angeles. Hilton renovated the hotel and redecorated the dining room in muted corporate tones of silver and gray, but it’s chef Todd Allison who has relit the kitchen fires of this Los Angeles landmark property.
Allison trained with chef James Boyce, who he says “was like a second father,” at Studio at Montage Laguna Beach and cooks with a sense of play that balances tradition and innovation.
The Dover sole meunière with baby artichokes and crispy potatoes would satisfy both Julia Child and a modern downtown loft dweller. The lobster bisque is creamy but light and is enlivened by assorted wild mushrooms, pairing beautifully with a South African sparkling rosé.
Save room for the chocolate-banana bread pudding topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s worth the extra gym time. 535 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-624-0000; checkersdowntown.com
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.