Since first opening in 2018, Saola by Hannah An has had one mission — to become the best restaurant in Los Angeles. We provide Vietnamese homestyle cooking with a modern twist, bringing a fresh take to our traditional cuisine.
We think that once you’ve given us a visit, you’ll agree that Saola is one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles!
Who We Are
Saola by Hannah An is a woman-owned and operated Vietnamese restaurant, located in USC Village.
Born into a food family, Vietnamese cooking is in Chef An’s blood. She and her family emigrated to the U.S. in 1975 after the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. The family bought an Italian deli, but slowly began to introduce some Vietnamese dishes. Customers were hesitant to try them at first, but eventually, the deli grew a following thanks to the new flavors it brought to the area. It was renamed Thanh Long, and became the first Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco.
Not content to rest, the An family later opened several more Vietnamese dining establishments including Anqi in Orange County, Tiato in Santa Monica, and the famous Crustacean Restaurant in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
After breaking ground with her family’s Asian Fusion concepts in the early 1990s, Chef An decided to break out on her own with Saola by Hannah An.
This woman-owned and operated restaurant is unique, just like its namesake animal. The saola (pronounced sow-la) is one of the rarest animals in the world. First discovered in 1992 in Vietnam, this reclusive species of antelope is called the Asian unicorn. Its population is believed to be between a few dozen and a few hundred.
We chose the saola to be our mascot because of what it represents — something special and delicate, from our home country of Vietnam.
Like Chef An, Saola is a true blend of two different cultures — American and Vietnamese. Having lived in her adopted country for nearly 45 years and raised her children here, Chef An is honored to share her cultural heritage with the Southern California community in our Los Angeles restaurant.
Our goal is simple — we aim to serve the best Vietnamese food that you’ll find anywhere in Los Angeles. We use only the freshest ingredients in our dishes for a difference you can taste.
Vietnamese food is a delicate balance between light and hot, fresh and fiery. There should always be harmony between the spicy heat (yang) and a cooling sweet or sour (yin). That’s what we try to bring to every bite.
Vietnamese food represents a blending of cultures. It’s heavily influenced by French cuisine, as the country was a French territory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But many of our favorite ingredients are distinctly Eastern, like turmeric, gai alan (Chinese broccoli), baby bok choy, and spicy Bird’s eye chilis.
Two of the most famous Vietnamese food items have heavy French influences — bánh mì and pho.
Bánh mì is actually the Vietnamese word for bread. The bánh mì sandwich is served on a baguette cut lengthwise, and filled with meat, cilantro, cucumber, and more. The baguette was introduced to Vietnam in the mid-19th century when Vietnam was part of French Indochina, and became a staple during the early 20th century. The sandwich became a popular street food in the 1950s, and is now one of the most loved Vietnamese dishes throughout the world.
Our bánh mì is served with fresh herbs, pickled veggies, jalapeños, cilantro, house spicy aioli, and your choice of grilled beef, chicken, pork belly, or salmon.
And then, there’s pho. We’re so proud of our pho that it’s why we consider ourselves one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Pho is influenced by both Chinese and French cooking. The rice noodles and spices were originally from China, and the addition of red meat came from France. Ours is a Northern-style pho, which has a simple, clear broth and lots of green onion. It also uses fresh wide rice noodles instead of the thinner Southern noodles. But if you prefer skinny noodles, we can do that too.
Beyond these Vietnamese staples, we have plenty of other wonderful dishes at our Los Angeles restaurant, from traditional to modern. Try our bo luc lac rice bowl, which is wok-cooked filet mignon with crimini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and baby bok choy. Or our goi cuon, also known as Vietnamese spring rolls. Our spring rolls come with your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu wrapped in delicate rice paper and served with two dipping sauces. And we’re especially proud of our bun cha ha noi — barbecued pork prepared two ways, and served with pickled veggies and rice vermicelli.
Vegetarians and vegans are welcome at Saola! Try our dau hu ca tim (eggplant and fried tofu with rice), vegetarian pho, or famous curried Brussels sprouts.
And if you’re running low on rice, just ask! We’re dedicated to limiting food waste, so we will happily provide extra rice to accompany the rest of your meal.
For dessert, you have to try our beignets. French donuts lightly dusted with powdered sugar are the perfect way to finish a Vietnamese meal.
You don’t become a top restaurant in Los Angeles without a great drink menu. We have beer and wine by the glass, as well as a carefully curated selection of sake, soju, and soju cocktails.
Soju is a low-alcohol Korean spirit, great on its own or in mixed drinks. We serve Original unflavored Chum Churum Soju at Saola, as well as White Peach and Green Apple.
Soju has a mild, clean flavor without the bite of a clear spirit like vodka. It makes a great base for light, refreshing cocktails like our Sai-Gonner — a soju watermelon slush with a dash of mint! Or on a hot day, try our Mekong Melon. It’s a blend of soju and lemon-lime spritzer served with a melon popsicle.
For beer, we represent our Asian roots with Sapporo and Koshihikari Rice Beer. But we also pay tribute to our love of LA with local favorite, Angel City IPA. Come by between 2 and 4pm daily for our happy hour drink specials!
If you’re not drinking today, we have plenty of non-alcoholic options for you as well. Try a cup of locally-made Offshore Tea or hydrating coconut water with your Vietnamese feast!
Our Vietnamese Restaurant
Our Los Angeles restaurant has a modern, bright interior with laid-back charm and high ceilings. Crisp white walls, fresh greenery, and cozy lighting make Saola a comfortable, hip place to connect with your friends over a plate of the best Vietnamese food in Southern California.
We’re proud to consider ourselves part of the USC family, which is why we have outlets at every table. You’re welcome to study or do homework while you enjoy your meal. Our touch screen-ordering system means you won’t be interrupted while you focus on your entree and education. But our helpful team is always on hand if you have any questions.
And if you need to escape the books for a while, why not watch the USC or Rams game over a bowl of pho and a beer? We even have barbecued chicken wings for a perfect game-day snack.
We don’t only want to be the best restaurant in Los Angeles…we want to be the most convenient as well. We’re happy to offer free 2-hour garage parking with validation. And we can accommodate our vegan and vegetarian guests as well. If you have questions about our menu or ingredients, just ask! Our friendly staff will be happy to help you navigate our options, whether you have a food allergy or just a dietary preference.
We hope you’ll come eat with us at our USC Village location. But if you can’t make it to us, we can come to you. We offer delivery with Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, or Caviar. Lack of transportation shouldn’t be a barrier to a delicious Vietnamese meal.
And we can also provide catering for your next office lunch, party, or special event. Impress your guests with a tray of bánh mì and Vietnamese spring rolls or CHA GIO Vietnamese egg roll! Just send us a note and we’ll work with you to create the perfect menu for your special day.
At Saola by Hannah An, we are dedicated to our reputation as a top restaurant in Los Angeles. We want every visit to be a memorable experience. We’re proud to serve the best Vietnamese food to our USC community and beyond. Come experience what a love of fine food and lifetime of restaurant experience can mean for you.