June 16, 2015
Flavors, like family traits, can tell a layered story about the relatives who surround them. At the District by Hannah An, an entire restaurant takes on the quality of being invited over for dinner, and the sights and scents familiar to the An family can feel universal.
A guest who takes a seat as an outsider for a home-cooked meal will have some catching up to do, and in regard to Hannah An, the situation is no different. She is part of three generations of women who use their Vietnamese heritage as culinary inspiration, and at her first solo restaurant, Hannah An blends this tradition with tastes from her stateside upbringing. After walking past the century-old front doors of the restaurant, which is meant to resemble an expansive colonial home in Vietnam, start with Hannah’s pho bo with sliced filet mignon. Sip an “American Joe,” made with 15-year bourbon, and take a look around. Just like the food, the setting shows its intimacy in the details.
Aside from the antique cart wheels that hang amongst the ivy on the patio, or the historic wooden door used as a communal table at the bar, the dining room displays a more personal memory: the chef’s photos from her travels through Southeast Asia. Glimpse them as you eat caramelized black cod in a clay pot or crab and pomelo quinoa. The fresh California ingredients and the rich Asian spices create a distinct harmony – and the same could be said about Hannah’s family dynamic.