Saturday, November 19, 2005

Indochine: It's no Gingergrass

Bun rice noodles at Indochine -- it looks better than it tastes

I've been looking forward to the opening of Indochine on Glendale Blvd., because it's really close, I'm getting more interested in Vietnamese food, and it will surely be less crowded than Gingergrass. We took the Chowteen for a test dinner Friday night -- he's not the most adventurous diner, but felt comfortable with ordering the porkchops. I was happy to see him polish off a chicken spring roll as well.
The fried spring rolls were ok, but didn't have the nice fresh flavor of the ones at Gingergrass.
The waiter had obviously been instructed to explain to patrons how to wrap up the spring rolls with the vegetables, how to dip the beef in pepper, etc., but it didn't seem like he had been instructed that three diners need three sets of silverware and three napkins.
I ordered the beef stew served with a baguette, which was tender but kind of fatty, covered in a vaguely anise-scented sauce that seemed a little too redolent of school cafeteria food. It was certainly better with some chili sauce, however. Matt had the bun cha gio thit nuong -- rice noodles with chicken and spring rolls -- which seemed more or less flavorless. Sam's pork chops were kind of dry, but not bad in a jerkyish kind of way. Nothing really seemed to have any kind of sauce or flavor unless it was doused in chili sauce.
Verdict: The green and orange decor is cute, and it's nice that it's open until midnight, but I can't imagine having any desire to return to Indochine. I hope this isn't what authentic Vietnamese food is supposed to taste like, or I'm cancelling my imaginary trip to Vietnam. Oh, yeah, it was $30 for the three of us, and they don't serve beer or wine.
Anybody been to Pho Fresco?
Update: I've been back to Indochine a few times, mostly to get chicken pho to go. The pho is actually pretty tasty, much more flavorful than Pho Cafe in Silver Lake.


Miles said...

jeez, though i haven't been there, it's been open only a week. maybe it just needs to get settled first.

anyhow, does anyone know anything about the el salvadoran restaurant going in the same mini-mall?

Silverlake Bodhisattva said...

The Cam-man's and my visit on opening day yielded somewhat more favorable results, but same the impression that they weren't close to having the "bugs worked out" of the operation yet. (Cam and I ordered dishes by name, which, given Cam's fairly machine-gun-like cadence, just confused the waiter, who we DON"T think really spoke any Vietnamese; we then resorted to the menu numbers).
I HOPE they can smooth things out.

Is this now becoming a problem endemic to greater Silverlake?
Is there developing some idea that running a restaurant is easy, and requires something less than iron-fisted authoritarianism in the first few months? Geez, hasn't anyone seen "Hell's Kitchen"?
R. Gould-Saltman

luswei said...

you can bring beer or wine; there is no corkage fee.

the waitstaff and owners are very solicitious, eager to please. i've eaten there twice and enjoyed both visits.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please be fair. When Gingergrass first opened, they weren't perfect either. Took them some time to iron out all the "bugs". I am just glad that there is another Vietnamese cafe in the area -- since I live in Glendale, where there is alsoultely no good Vietnamese or Chinese food.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Hey Chowpatty,

Thanks for the LA updates- I have yet to try Gingergrass but a couple of people at work rave about it constantly. Any recommendations for a first-timer?

Pat Saperstein said...

Sorry if people don't think it's fair to say that the food didn't taste good, but until I hear about someone having a nice meal there, I won't be returning. I'm certainly willing to wait for them to iron out the service bugs -- it's no big deal if I get a napkin or not -- but really, it's just about the food tasting good.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps your tastebuds weren't working well at the time of your visit. Did Gingergrass ask you to give them a bad write up? I ate there this evening & had a very pleasant experience. The food was very tasty. They make yummy vegetarian spring rolls. The Pho Ga (Chicken rice noodle soup) was light and very flavorful. The Ga Nuong (chicken rice plate) was also flavorsome. For dessert we had fried bananas. I think you'd change your opinion about Indochine if you give it another go. It's what Atwater needed!

Pat Saperstein said...

That's really unfair to accuse me of writing a bad review because Gingergrass asked me to. I don't even know the owners of Gingergrass, but it certainly wouldn't matter one way or the other. It's very simple. I think Gingergrass gets it right, and I didn't like the taste of the food at Indochine. So what was I supposed to say -- "Cute place, but I can't really comment on the food"?

Dana Harris said...

If you want great Vietnamese, you gotta get yer butt out of Silverlake.
Go to Com Tam Thuan Kieu, 123 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Phone: (626) 280-5660. Ridiculously cheap. Great pho and wond'rous spring rolls, but to eat broken rice (aka com tam) is to fall in love. Trying to find anything as good west of San Gabriel is a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

12 noon on a Saturday. Order Pho and was informed that the "stock" was still being made. First and last visit for me.

Anonymous said...

Pho fresco is great and definitely better than Indochine Vien. It has both Thai and Vietnamese. The seating isn't comfortable, but the cook is very friendly and willing to accomidate picky eaters. The BBQ pork with rice vermicelli is very good. It is much more authentic than Gingergrass.

Anonymous said...

Go to Pho Fresco!!! It's honestly the best Vietnamese food in town.