The District by Hannah An
 
 

A modern adventure through Vietnamese cuisine

By Brad Japhe

The District isn’t your typical Vietnamese eatery—that much is clear even before you get a chance to mull over the menu. In a sleek and modern space spread out over two stories, this is destination dining as only Hannah An could realize it. The accomplished chef and restaurateur trekked across her native land for years gathering ideas and inspiration, and has focused it all into one high-octane kitchen. You’ll recognize some of the resulting fare by name, no doubt: banh mi, pho, shaken beef. But you’ve never tasted it quite like this before.

“I have my own style of cooking,” she explains. “But the flavors I work with are very traditional—ancient herbs and spices from Vietnam.”

The menu is divided into “Districts” representing the diverse culinary traditions spanning her home country. In the Pho and Soup District, the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup gets high-end proteins such as succulent filet mignon and tender brisket. The light bone broth base is the product of at least seven hours of gentle reduction.

Starters include a grilled Atlantic octopus, and if you scan to the bottom of the page to review her house-made egg noodles, which serve as a vehicle for such add-ons like uni butter and wok-seared Maine lobster.

The Ocean District has a Chilean sea bass with turmeric and it also fuses tamarind black cod with grilled pineapples under a wash of tomato herb broth. It’s a fanciful rendering of canh chua, a sour soup from the region of the Mekong River delta.
Unlike her birthplace, An’s adopted home of Los Angeles is populated with a steady supply of vegans, and she meets their dietary needs with gusto—and a multitude of flavors. In fact, nearly a quarter of her massive two-sided menu is dedicated to meat-free dishes. Wok-sautéed seasonal vegetables, crispy tofu, and eggplant seasoned with garlic and Thai basil are all standouts. Her signature in this section, however, is the Buddha delight clay pot, a Vietnamese stew served simmering with seitan, carrots, and savory kohlrabi cabbage.

“We get lots of diners with different preferences,” she explains. “So much of our menu is vegetarian or vegan. About 90 percent of it is naturally gluten-free.”

An is clearly comfortable catering to guests of all stripes. Because as adept as she is in the kitchen, her broader skill set is a steadying sense of hospitality. “Vietnamese food is all about finding the balance,” she explains. “You appeal to the five senses, but you don’t want to go too much in any one direction.” And at The District she delivers harmony to each and every guest.

hours

Mon–Thu 11:30 AM–10 PM; Fri 11:30 AM–11 PM; Sat 11 AM–11 PM; Sun 11 AM–9 PM

price range

$15 (signature District flatbreads) to $39 (coriander-crusted New Zealand lamb)
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