May 28, 2015
Vietnamese cuisine is more than just pho noodle soup, fried spring rolls and banh mi. Hannah An, from Crustacean in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, is educating Angelenos about other special Vietnamese dishes at her new restaurant, The District by Hannah An.
Located across from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the space of the former Barefoot Café Bar, the two-story elegant restaurant serves more than traditional Vietnamese food. Her menu is a culinary map of the different districts in northern, central and southern Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) there are 24 different districts, each offering distinctive culture and food that varies by region. Some districts have Chinese and Cambodian influences, while others have a French fusion.
An designed the interior of the restaurant with a sand and ocean French colonial theme. Large Edison bulbs representing Vietnamese lanterns hang in the dining room. Cut wood squares representing sand are lined up along a wall, and tables give a reflection reminiscent of the ocean. It’s visually serene and beautiful.
As the eldest daughter of five siblings, An’s dishes have distinctive flavors that reflect balance. She uses a minimal amount of oil, and pairs herbs and vegetables with meat using recipes that include lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime and basil leaves. All dishes are made with fresh ingredients, as she does not own a freezer.