MAR VISTA, Calif. — A new restaurant opened just before the pandemic started but actually has found success during these uncertain time.
My Lai specializes in high-quality, to-go options from a modern storefront in Mar Vista.
What You Need To Know
- My Lai restaurant opened in Mar Vista just before the pandemic and specializes in high-quality, to-go options
- Owner Traci Phan Davis hand makes her egg rolls, amongst other dishes, that she grew up eating with her family
- She noticed a need in the market for fast, healthy Vietnamese options and thought it was the perfect time to open
- Vietnamese cuisine is known for being healthy and light with bright and clean flavors
Owner Traci Phan Davis hand makes her egg rolls, amongst other dishes, that she grew up eating with her family.
“It’s what I grew up on," she said. "My grandma made these for me, so this is very homemade to me."
Everything at her fast, casual spot is homemade. Phan Davis’ mom moved from Vietnam to the U.S. at age 11, and her cooking transformed into a Vietnamese-American style, which she passed on to Phan Davis. The restaurant is the epitome of combining cultures: the American influence on Vietnamese traditional dishes, the need for a faster food, and even her family.
“My Lai is commonly referred to as a biracial mixed American person," she said. "That is what My Lai means to me and any other Vietnamese person."
There is an event that goes by the same name from the Vietnam War, the My Lai Massacre, but Phan Davis said most Vietnamese people do not associate the two.
Phan Davis’ Caucasian husband Shad has 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry and partnered with her to open My Lai.
“Our children will be My Lai," she said. "So, this is my first baby, with the next a human baby."
The former Live Nation exec left the business world behind to do something for herself. She noticed a need in the market for fast, healthy Vietnamese options and thought it was the perfect time to open. She said there are Mexican and Mediterranean grab-and-go spots, but nothing for her culture’s cuisine.
“I started seeing a shift and a trend in the food industry," said Phan Davis. "The younger generation wants to have affordable food that is healthy, but reasonably priced."
The style of My Lai is simple: Think Chipotle, but with Vietnamese flavors. You create your own rice, noodle or salad bowls that are made right in front of you. My Lai also sells Banh Mi, egg rolls, and spring rolls.
Vietnamese cuisine is known for being healthy and light with bright and clean flavors, which you’ll find in Mama Mai’s chicken and rice — their most popular dish named after Phan Davis' mom.
“I created this dish at home, just for fun, and now every time my mom comes, that is what she wants us to make," Phan Davis said. "Now, it is the number one dish that we sell."
Full of garlic rice, grilled chicken, and tons of veggies, you can enjoy Mama Mai’s bowl or any other combination to-go at My Lai located at 12222 Venice Blvd. in Mar Vista.