First Look: French-Vietnamese at East BoroughBy Lesley Balla | March 11, 2014 By Lesley Balla | March 11, 2014
The Gist: Paul Hibler and his American Gonzo Food Cooperation (Pitfire Artisan Pizza, Super Snack Bar) turned to Southeast Asia with this funky new casual spot in downtown Culver City. Chef Jason Neroni collaborates with Chloe Tran, who opened the original East Borough in Costa Mesa with partner John Cao. This is a more formal set up with a larger menu of new twists on traditional Vietnamese dishes, plus a bigger space and bar, serving very sippable cocktails.
The Food: Tran and Cao started serving banh mi in Orange County, but with the help of Neroni, the menu has taken a turn to more inspired cooking. Think: Franco-Vietnamese comfort food, jazzed up with California sensibilities. You'll find things like tofu-lined spring rolls; imperial rolls with big crisp lettuce leaves and fish sauce for dipping; pho turned into sandwiches at lunch or bucatini bowls at dinner; sticky pork shanks with housemade pickles; and more. Definitely order for the table and share. There will be sticky fingers all around.
The Drinks: Any of the spritzy cocktails go down so easy, especially alongside some of the more deeply flavored dishes but there are also some classics with a Southeast Asian twist, like a Blood and Quicksand, which riffs off the Blood and Sand with scotch, cherry and the addition of pineapple. Even the nonalcoholic drinks are fun, including the ginger limeade and pineapple-basil soda.
The Space: Filled with beautiful tiled floors, formica tables, a small bar and sidewalk seating, this is a bustling little spot for lunch or dinner. The pops of bright yellow - right down to the gate along the patio - add a sunny vibe even at night, and fuchsia and blue accents give the space extra energy. A giant photo on the wall harkens to the streets of Saigon filled with hustling scooter traffic. The streets of Culver City might not be as dynamic - but it fits. Check out more highlights and some food porn in the below slide show.
The Details: East Borough, 9810 W. Washington Blvd.; 310-596-8266