Chef of the Moment: Tin Vuong on dry-aged beef, ‘monkey burgers’ and chiles

Chef Vin Tuong
(Jason Speth)

Tin Vuong is chef and co-founder of the restaurant group that operates Abigaile in Hermosa Beach, WildCraft in Culver City, Little Sister in Manhattan Beach and most recently, Día de Campo in Hermosa Beach. He grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and earned a degree in economics at UCLA before pursuing the chef dream. After graduating from culinary school and working at several restaurants and hotels around the world, including the St. Regis Monarch Beach and Sapphire in Laguna, he joined forces with restaurateur Jed Sanford in 2012 and turned Abigaile into a South Bay favorite with dishes such as P.I.G. pop tarts, risotto carbonara, poutine and char sui pork belly -- a mix of global flavors, in-season ingredients and comfort food. They opened WildCraft the next year with wood-fired sourdough pizza and a Cal-Ital menu. Southeast Asian-inflected Little Sister soon followed, then Mexican fish house Día de Campo, with more projects on the way.

What’s coming up next on your menu?

Right now, I’m dry-aging cuts of beef for a new restaurant concept I’m working on at the moment, and specifically at Little Sister, some new comfort Asian dishes that I’m craving like Hong Kong-style pork chop with tomato fried rice and egg. Food that anyone can be in the mood for any time of the day.

Latest ingredient obsession?


Bird’s-eye chile. Not as hot as habanero but sweeter and more pungent. Love it crushed with salt and lime. It’s a good kind of burn, leaving you wanting more, like an addiction.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?

In-N-Out. Short menu, simple and just damn good any day of the week. Monkey burger … say what? Yep, animal-style fries stuffed inside a double-double burger. Wash it down with a large diet Coke. Enjoy.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives?


Japanese mandoline. It’s light, sharp and does about anything you need with a knife but without a knife.

What’s your favorite breakfast?

Aside from Vietnamese ice coffee and cigarettes … I like a good extra-large bowl of pho. Nothings soothes my soul more than this delicious goodness. Everything is good about this savory hot beef broth, noodles, chiles, herbs, thinly sliced meats and tendon. Sweet hoisin and sriracha for dipping.

Abigaile, 1301 Manhattan Ave., Hermosa Beach, (310) 798-8227,; WildCraft, 9725 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-8100,; Little Sister, 1131 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, (310) 545-2096,; Día de Campo, 1238 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach, (310) 379-1829,


Sweeter than a habanero. Follow @bettyhallock