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HALLELUJAH! Little Sister in Manhattan Beach

ANori | Aug 18, 2013 08:59 PM

I had the pleasure, and I really do mean pleasure, of eating at "Little Sister" in Manhattan Beach this evening. We moved to Manhattan Beach about a year ago from the Hancock Park area (TONS of good food options there, of course), and although duly warned, we have found a decided lack of really, really good food here in MB. Al Noor is great, Open Sesame is no Marouch, but gets the job done with a smile, Tin Roof has good drinks, and Petros has a few standout dishes. Thus far, we have primarily alternated dinners at MB Post and Izaka-ya. So you know where I stand, I am unabashedly a fan of both of these restaurants. I understand the naysayers of both places, but at the end of the day, they are chef-driven restaurants that really aim to use fresh ingredients and I appreciate the commitment and I like the food. (Plus, it is impossible not to appreciate the female head sushi chef at Izaka-ya -- who trained in Japan, by the way).

Friends took us to Abigail's in Hermosa Beach in an attempt to convince us that the South Bay has really good food. I liked it, but wasn't blown away. So when I heard Little Sister (related to Abigail's in some way?) opened across the street from MB Post, I wasn't running. Tonight we were wandering the very crowded streets, and pondering which place to tackle for dinner. We stopped in at Little Sister to check out the menu.

As Weinermobile wrote, Little Sister: "feature[s] a cross-section of Southeast Asian cuisines and a very tasty looking menu." Some foods were recognizable to me, some were not. But I was already excited that finally a different regional cuisine had made an appearance in downtown Manhattan Beach! After taking our seats at the bar, we watched the chef/sous chef/line cook behind the bar prepping delightful-looking bowls of all kinds of appetizers, green papaya salads with prawns (repeatedly), rolls, and beautiful mini-desserts. This woman worked fast, and without missing a beat. We were greeted by a calm and cheerful waitress (not a requirement for me, but always a nice plus). We began our meal with "thin egg noodles with garlic oil, sweet soy, crispy shallots, chili oil" and minus the pork bits. Very, very good. Good enough that I almost asked if they made the noodles in house (I didn't ask. Not sure I want to know). We then followed the noodles with a trio of "Eastside 626 Provisions" -- papaya with green chilies, sesame mung beans, and ma la pickles. The pickles were a standout, the papaya and mung beans were very good.

My husband ordered the beef randang (a new dish for him). I don't eat meat, but there were so many options for me that I was having lots of trouble deciding. Being a fan of banh mi, and a fan of soft-shelled crab, I ordered the "Singapore chili soft shelled crab banh mi, with spiced tomato relish and pickled garlic." It was cute - not huge, not small - really well-presented as I thought all the dishes were. But when I bit into it -- WOW. I mean WOW WOW oh WOW. Suffice it to say I am thrilled my husband does not eat shellfish. It would have been very difficult for me to part with a bite, even one bite. I do not think I would share that sandwich with anyone. I am so reluctant to overstate it - as I know overselling can cause lots of haters later, but it was the best sandwich I have ever had. Love Larchmont Wine and Cheese. Love King's Road Café. Love Follow Your Heart's reuben. Love many, many banh mis. This was simply the best sandwich ever for me. One of the chefs delivered it to me, and he delivered it with well-earned confidence. I told him it looked good. He looked me in the eye and said "just wait til you taste it." I really may return tomorrow. I thought it was that good. I'll be curious to see what the rest of Chowhound thinks....

The accompaniments to the beef (yes, the husband loved the randang -- but who was paying attention) were so well-executed. The salted mustard greens and almost-candied mango chutney were great. But who could really think about those things after having devoured a soft-shelled crab banh mi?? Bar neighbors ordered salt and pepper lobster - which I think I'll have to try, too. It was spectacular-looking.....

I hope that Little Sister flourishes here in MB. And I hope it encourages other great chefs to open great little restaurants of all ethnicities here, too. Thank you for coming, Little Sister. Welcome to the neighborhood!!

http://littlesistermb.com

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