Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quick Bite: East Borough for Stylish Vietnamese and Cocktails in Culver City

East Borough is compact with a colorful glass enclosed bar area
What: East Borough Fraiche Vietnamese

Where: 9810 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 310-596-8266

Why: For a lunch date near Sony, drinks and snacks before a show at the Kirk Douglas Theater or a patio dinner on a warm night
The Goods: Chef Chloe Tran runs an East Borough in Costa Mesa, but here she's collaborating with Superba's Jason Neroni for a slightly different approach to her Vietnamese-with-a-twist menu. While some items skew close to a traditional Vietnamese interpretation, others lean towards the fusion side.Either way, the addition of fun cocktails and a location smack in the middle of Culver City action make it handy for lunch, dinner or drinks.

The Look: Tres cool, tres casz: Schoolroom chairs in the dining room harmonize with colorful mid-century bucket bar stools, while glass panes dividing the bar and the kitchen add a somewhat Bauhaus feel.In front, a bright yellow cinderblock wall defines the patio with a mid-century meets rustic vibe.

What to Order: Definitely the cauliflower and long bean (at right), a giant vegetable party in your mouth. Also good: Banh Xeo, a fairly traditional dish with crab and shitake mushrooms and Imperial Rolls with pork and taro.
One of their signature dishes, the Phocatini rice noodles with oxtail, didn't work quite as well for me -- as is often the case in fusion-type spots, the hoisin sauce made the whole dish too sweet.
My cocktail called "In Eastern Fashion" with bourbon, pomelo and chocolate chili bitters also had a notable anise flavor, which came as a bit of a surprise, but with flavors like tamarindo and kiwi vinegar, there are certainly some interesting choices.

(I was invited to try this restaurant.)

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