Every other week starting this Sunday (April 21), you can get an awesome Vietnamese multi-course brunch on Melrose. Connie Tran's BEP Vietnamese Kitchen will be popping up at Franco on Melrose. There's only one seating at 11:30 am where you'll partake in an 8-course brunch, mostly served family style, for $37.
I attended a media preview last week, starting my morning with some spiced boiled peanuts. I remember as a kid I loved boiled peanuts and would buy them at the zoo (I think they were meant for the elephants). I just love the texture! Here, suck on the shells a bit to get the flavors!
Chef Connie Tran explained to us the philosophy behind a Vietnamese meal. She said there is always a "water" component, which in our meal was the chao sang: rice porridge, lardon crisps, poached egg, sage brown butter
This one was not served family style but a small individual bowl for everyone. Egg lovers will rejoice over the high egg:porridge ratio here.
After that there will be 1-2 proteins but one of them will always have vegetables. More on that later, though, as she modernizes and expands things a bit with her own take.
Our second course was a beautiful salad of starfruit, fennel, burrata, bibb lettuce with lemon balm dressing
Your meal comes with non-alcoholic drinks too, a choice of Vietnamese coffee (hot or iced), a strangely salty pickled plum soda that will grow on you, and a lightly sweetened chrysanthemum mint iced tea. If you want a boozy brunch, they allow BYOB and has some wine pairing recommendations on their Facebook page.
OK, let's keep going with the food. Next are two courses served with vermicelli cakes and herbs. There's the always popular bo la lot: grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf with roasted peanuts. The other is cha ca thanh long: grilled turmeric catfish, dill, green scallions, roasted peanuts.
Then there's a trio of dishes served with fragrant jasmine rice
My favorite was the thit kho: braised galangal pork, quail eggs, coconut molasses, BEP picklins
tom rang: grilled honey prawns, okra, bird chili, caramelized shallots, northern mint
In the US okra is synonymous with southern cooking but apparently it's also similar in Vietnam. Little did I know, okra is used in Southern Vietnamse cooking.
The vegetable dish of the trio: ca tim: asian eggplant, grilled corn, purple perilla scallion oil
I've never had eggplant combined with corn before, it was certainly a nice juxtaposition of texture.
Our first dessert was a coconut gelato sandwich: chili sesame cookies but unfortunately the gelato got melted so it was more like a coconut sauce. Don't worry, though, they'll get the logistics down by the time of the opening. Plus, the chewy sesame cookies are so good!
Another great and interesting dessert: kabocha pot de crème, vietnamese yogurt, peanut ginger brittle.
Seriously, why has no one done this before?
We also got one dish from the second pop up (May 5) to preview: a slider of spam, quail egg, cucumber, caramelized onion, tomato, on King's Hawaiian sweet roll, served with sweet potato chips.
For future pop up dates, menus, and more info, check out their Facebook page or twitter @BEPkitchen.
BEP Vietnamese Kitchen at Franco on Melrose
6919 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA