Traci Phan-Davis,
Chef and Restaurant Owner

Thank you for learning more about my story beyond the bite.

Meet Traci Phan-Davis

Traci Phan Davis, the founder of My Lai Kitchen (pronounced “Me Ly”) left her lucrative career after two decades in corporate America to pursue her passion for bringing her family’s beloved Vietnamese American dishes to mainstream folks in Los Angeles, California.


My Lai Kitchen: Paying Homage to a Delicious Vietnamese American Culinary Heritage

In the Mar Vista district of Los Angeles on Venice Boulevard is an unassuming, charming, and casual restaurant called My Lai Kitchen serving the most fresh, eclectic, and delicious Vietnamese American creations we’ve ever tasted.

Traci Phan Davis, the founder of My Lai Kitchen (pronounced “Me Ly”) left her lucrative career after two decades in corporate America to pursue her passion for bringing her family’s beloved Vietnamese American dishes to mainstream folks in Los Angeles, California.

Traci’s husband, Shad Davis, is a professional chef by trade and a highly experienced restaurant consultant. When Traci shared with Shad her vision of bringing the foods she grew up with to life in a casual restaurant, he was all for it. Together they created My Lai Kitchen. The name “My Lai” means “Vietnamese American” or “American mixed.”

If you can’t make it to My Lai Kitchen, you can experience the behind-the-scenes action here and watch these incredible dishes come to life.

A Rough Start

Traci and Shad opened My Lai Kitchen in February 2020, the month before the start of the Covid pandemic. Needless to say this period was rife with unprecedented challenges for restaurant owners: from the financial burdens to following new covid protocols to securing proper staffing … the difficulties kept coming.

There were also issues in procuring the necessary food ingredients. For example, the sriracha factories Traci and Shad bought from shut down and everyday items such as food service gloves were scarce. And even if you could buy the gloves, they were ridiculously expensive.

In addition to their Venice Blvd. restaurant, Traci and Shad opened up a ghost kitchen in downtown Los Angeles that focused solely on to go orders and deliveries.

Trying times like these made Traci question whether she made the right decision by leaving her cushy tech industry job to become an entrepreneur. She also had friends that told her this concept of Vietnamese American fusion cuisine would never work. But deep down inside, Traci knew that this was what she was meant to do, and she persevered.

Traci and Shad worked night and day and were able to keep the business afloat during covid. Today My Lai is enjoying explosive growth and is firing on all cylinders.

Pictured above is Traci Phan Davis, her husband Shad Davis and their adorable dog Pepe

True Grit + Unwavering Focus + Innovation = Success

Traci is the daughter of hard working Vietnamese factory workers and is a first generation American born in Georgia.

Traci’s mom and her aunt were huge influences on her cooking today. She even uses her mom’s recipe for peanut sauce at My Lai Kitchen.

When we met Traci in person, we immediately knew she is an absolute force — she has a charismatic personality, a keen business sense, a tireless work ethic, and a deep dedication to bringing the flavors and foods she grew up with to her thousands of hungry customers every single day.

Traci started her career as a derivatives trade floor assistant on Wall Street at Bear Stearns. Obviously, this job isn’t for shrinking violets!

She recounts with pride and a grin on her face about her earlier career days, “So I used to run down Wall Street in my suit and heels every morning because I was so afraid of being late. We had to be there EXACTLY at 6:30am … and if you got there at 6:31am…let’s just say there was a lot of yelling involved.”

After Wall Street, Traci went on to work in other industries in entertainment and tech. She enjoyed her jobs, but always longed to do something on her own and build a legacy.

She finally discovered what that legacy is when she created the concept for My Lai Kitchen.

A Creative Whim — Garlic Rice!

In keeping with her untraditional concept of Vietnamese food, Traci came up with an idea as an alternative to garlic noodles, a popular side dish in many Asian cultures: Garlic Rice! This is the dish that Traci is most proud of because she tried it out on a whim and it turned out better than she ever expected.

Traci serves garlic rice in several of her My Lai menu items. It’s a simple yet delightful mixture of jasmine rice, gluten-free soy sauce, oyster sauce, sautéed garlic, fish sauce and sugar.

Traci also makes an array of California-Asian inspired sauces such as tamarind sauce, sweet and sour vinaigrette, and honey sriracha.

Onward and Upward

It seems like it’s just the beginning of Traci’s restaurant journey. We have no doubt My Lai Kitchen will continue on its strong growth trajectory with its unique, healthy, and flavorful menu. My Lai already has legions of loyal customers that keep coming back for more. After we tested several of the items on their menu, we can certainly see why!

My Lai Kitchen on Venice Blvd is open for dine-in and takeout seven days a week from 11:30am to 8:30pm. The take-out only location on Western Avenue in downtown Los Angeles is open seven days a week from 11am to 10pm.

For more information, visit and follow @themylaikitchen on Instagram for updates.

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“Here at My Lai, it's very simple food that I sort of learned how to cook watching my mom and recreating the dishes she made for me.”

– Traci Phan-Davis, My Lai Kitchen

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