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Photos: BEP Kitchen's Pop-Up Vietnamese Brunch on Melrose
If there's one thing that defines warm-weather dining in Los Angeles, it's patio brunches. But as much as we love French toast and pancakes, we were excited to hear about a new Vietnamese brunch pop-up called BEP Vietnamese Kitchen that launched this past weekend.
Every other Sunday, chef Connie Tran is cooking for guests that fill up the sunny patio at Franco on Melrose, offering Angelenos a taste of Vietnamese food beyond the pho. Tran left Vietnam with her family during the Fall of Saigon in 1975, and has been working in L.A. kitchens since then. This is her first solo to speak of, and judging by the packed house of eager eaters this past Sunday, it's going quite well.
There's only one seating at 11:30 a.m., and they do wait until all of the reservations show up to start serving the family-style dishes, so unless you want to catch some major stink-eye from other guests, it's best to arrive on time. The $37 eight-course prix-fixe menu includes a mind-boggling amount of satisfying and stunningly-presented Vietnamese dishes like grilled tumeric catfish, rice porridge with lardons and poached eggs, and a variety of iced teas and coffees. Pretty much everything was delightful, except for the super-salty pickled plum soda (xi muoi), which is perhaps an acquired taste, but to us tasted like inhaling a Will Rodgers wipeout. The other drinks like the Vietnamese iced coffee and chrysanthemum mint iced tea are wonderful, or you can BYO. It's hardly brunch without bubbles, after all.
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Baby Yoda cocktails. Boozy Dole Whips. Volcanic tiki drinks. If you can dream it, they're probably mixing it somewhere on property.