21016 Pacific Coast Hwy d200, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, USA

An unmarked door in Huntington Beach’s Bluegold restaurant reveals crumbling backlit lathe and plaster walls. Shelves hold vintage trinkets for a cabinet of curiosities effect, while hip-hop pumps into the moody space through invisible speakers. The feeling at LSXO, a stylish 28-seat eatery, is that you’ve been welcomed into a secret club. In reality it’s the vision of chef Tin Vuong, famous for his Little Sister restaurants in downtown L.A. and Manhattan Beach. Whereas those spots feature dishes from across Southeast Asia, LSXO is a more personal project, focusing on the authentic Vietnamese food Vuong grew up with (his family members are featured in framed photographs on the walls). That personal touch comes through in soul-warming dishes, like Vietnamese chicken noodle soup and lamb satay flavored with curry, as well as a few of Vuong’s Little Sister signatures, such as the explosively flavorful Shaky Shaky Beef. If you can’t get a table during lunch or the always-packed dinner service, try the restaurant mid-afternoon for Hong Kong–style milk tea, open-faced finger sandwiches, and French pastry. Pro tip: Ask for the off-menu lobster fried rice.

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