Best New Restaurants 2022: Little Sister Shines at Irvine Spectrum

Little Sister
Photographs by Emily J. Davis


ittle Sister is done thinking small. In the beginning, we fell hard for Tin Vuong’s LSXO (Little Sister Extraordinary), his teensy Huntington Beach speakeasy born in 2016. Acclaim followed and a big Little Sister was born at the Irvine Spectrum last May. The stylized Vietnamese bistro menu has grown to oblige Spectrum foot traffic, most notably with lunch-only eats—
deluxe takes on bánh mì sandwiches and chao rice porridges. Everything else is served all day, scores of dishes effusively presented with vibrant herbs, colorful rices, and proteins redolent with fresh char. Spirit-forward cocktails stand up to assertive openers such as floppy dumplings plump with pork, shrimp, and crab—or Vuong’s crunchy-juicy papaya salad with grilled prawns and ruby red shards of salty “Viet beef jerky.” Also in the salad lane, lime-soaked raw beef and crispy shallots with a heap of rau ram, basil, and mint. Zesty to its core, it readily outshines the routine beef tartare. The pork chop with homespun chicken fat rice and fried egg is the plate you crave late at night, and again days later. Succulent fillets of flash-fried sea bass are rich enough to take on scalding scallion oil, zingy ginger, red chile, and crushed peanuts. For dessert, the rustic pecan-date tart delivers gut-level joy.

896 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine 949-800-8798

MORE: Orange County’s Best New Restaurants: 2022