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I was first introduced to Vietnamese food when I lived in Washington DC. There is a large population of Vietnamese living in Northern Virginia and Vietnamese restaurants line the streets the way sushi restaurants do in Los Angeles. I have always been disappointed in not finding more Vietnamese restaurants here as I find Vietnamese food to be fresh, healthy and full of flavor. There is a large concentration of Vietnamese living in Southern California but most of the Vietnamese restaurants are located in Orange County and the San Gabriel Valley. Of course, in Los Angeles you can find a smattering of Pho shops but now you can also find a modern take on Vietnamese food at Khong Ten LA in West LA. Khong Ten translates to "no name" in Vietnamese. Co-Owner and Chef Kim Vu and her partner Don Andes called the restaurant "no name" as they were developing the concept. Don wanted the restaurant to have a Vietnamese name and ironically, on his travels to Vietnam, learned the meaning of Khong Ten. What started as an inside joke stuck and ultimately it is the perfect name for the restaurant. Khong Ten is not a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. "There is really no name to describe what we are doing here," explained Kim Vu. "We are not a Vietnamese restaurant. It is more an exploration of Vietnamese cuisine." Kim is a first-generation Vietnamese-American but considers herself part of what she describes as the "third wave." She identifies as 100% Vietnamese but is nothing like her parents. She explained that "the first generation cooks like they are back home and then the second generation, especially in California, starts to use local, fresh ingredients that are available. The third generation re-imagines the cuisine of their parents."
Heading to the opening of the new Kreation Kafe in Brentwood, I was anticipating a healthy meal. After all, Kreation Kafe is part of Kreation Organics, known for their cold-pressed organic juices and smoothies. While I enjoy a clean, healthy meal, I was expecting a selection of vegan or raw options. I enjoy this on occasion but is not something I anxiously look forward to. However, my meal at Kreation Kafe was healthy but also very flavorful and full of vegetables and meat. I enjoyed it so much that I cannot wait to go back! Located on San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood, in the former Gaucho Grill space, Kreation Kafe is a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as its well-known juices, coffees and a grab & go section of healthy meals and snacks.
Located on the corner of Olive and 7th street in downtown LA, the 1923 neoclassical neutral-colored building is rather nondescript from the outside. But inside is another world. The NoMad Hotel has transformed the one-time Bank of Italy building into warm opulent space with dark jewel-toned velvet everywhere. The towering lobby can be entered through the doors on 7th Street. The space is broken into several areas, including a bar, a library and the casual Lobby Restaurant. Overlooking the lobby is the Mezzanine Restaurant, the more formal dining option.