A new restaurant that just landed in National City’s Bay Plaza has an eclectic menu that infuses traditional Asian dishes with elements from Latin cuisines. At Chao XO, owner Leslie Dang is starting with classic foods that reflect her Vietnamese heritage, such as pho and bo luc lac, and giving them a modern, Mexican twist.
This is the first breakout venture for Dang, who previously worked at her family’s Louisiana seafood spot, Crab Fever, which is located just a few doors down from Chao XO in the same shopping plaza that also houses Mad for Cheesecake, Bonchon, Seafood City, and Goldilocks. The family also operates Pho PCH in Redondo Beach.
The menu includes a noodle soup that combines pho with Mexican birria, pairing rice noodles and pickled brassicas with beef slow-cooked with chilies in a rich consomme. Other dishes include a fusion of Peruvian lomo saltado and Vietnamese shaking beef as well as riffs on Thai tom yum noodles and Malaysian nasi goreng and snacks like elote con sriracha and sweet and spicy cheese habanero wings. Dang tells Eater that the menu will expand to feature tacos and sopes along with takes on Filipino dishes like kare kare.
Along with margaritas and cucumber mojitos, the bar mixes up drinks that incorporate Asian ingredients, from Vietnamese coffee topped with ube foam to horchata flavored with pandan.