Long Beach houses the Cambodian-American stronghold of Little Phnom Penh, and even though Little La Lune doesn’t fall right in the middle, the charming cafe from Phnom Penh native Han Pok and Chhaylee Saing, part of a family that also runs nearby La Lune Imperial, is still one of the leading examples. The restaurant debuted in late 2011 and draws on Cambodian, Thai and Chinese influences, featuring some flavors that may not feel familiar to diners.
Little La Lune’s contemporary setting belies the generic strip mall address in P.C. Plaza. The bustling restaurant features red cinder block walls, decorative bamboo lanterns, cushioned, cream colored banquettes, elephant statues, and wall mounted metal flowers.
Pork Porridge previously earned Dose of Vitamin P honors and deftly balanced pork parts with acidity.
Cha Wai, a deep fried beignet-like bread stick, paired well with porridge.
I expressed an interest in bone soup, and my server, Ian, brought a big bowl. Marrow-filled shanks, funky bits still attached, joined fried garlic and scallions in a rich pork and beef broth.
Watercress with garlic packed a noticeable chile kick.
Little La Lune marinates Beef Sticks with lemongrass and lemon leaves and serves the skewers with Khmer style papaya salad, which packs a ginger punch.
Little La Lune overcooked their Pork Chitterlings, deep-fried intestines that joined sweet-tangy dipping sauce, Khmer style kimchi with chayote, ginger, cucumber, and carrot); and fried rice with greens and scrambled egg.
Nhom Sdao spotlights sdao, a powerfully bitter vegetable with tiny florets at the end that may qualify as an acquired taste. In this case sdao joins bits of fried catfish, cucumber, pork belly strips, scallion, crunchy bean sprouts. This plate is not for the weak of palate.