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Lyly’s Kitchen – Rural SC meets Vietnam and New Orleans

By Tom Hanchett, January 2011

lylykitchenDawn is just breaking in the South Carolina countryside as construction workers, men in hunting clothes, farmers, and a few Lake Wylie retirees crowd the tables at Lyly’s Kitchen and Exxon Station. For decades folks have been eating biscuit and livermush breakfasts, sandwich and burger lunches here where S.C. Highway 55 meets S.C. Highway 49. But these days there are also Vietnamese spring rolls and shrimp po’boys on the chalkboard menu.

Ly Dinh, age 26, took over the gas station and grill about two years ago when the former owners retired. Her Vietnamese-born mom Lan Nguyen, dad Hai Dinh and brother Trieu Dinh help out.
They keep the menu mostly Carolina traditional. That means country ham, grits and the piedmont Carolinas’ own distinctive livermush, a cousin to scrapple, brought by German settlers a couple of centuries ago. “We serve a lot of livermush here,” confirms Ly. “It’s one of our top sellers for breakfast.”

The only obviously Vietnamese menu item is a spring roll. It’s different from egg rolls found at Chinese take-outs – tighter wrapped, filled with tangy pork and vegetables.

Wait, there’s also that po’boy, a submarine sandwich with subtly spiced Cajun mayonnaise, spilling over with fried shrimp. How’d that Louisiana specialty get here? “Well, there’s lots of Vietnamese on the Gulf now,” says Ly. “My mom and her friends down there get together once a year, come up with recipes for all their restaurants.”

Lyly’s Kitchen and Exxon

6 am – 8 pm daily

6034 Charlotte Highway (S.C. 49)
York, SC 29745


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