Feb 2014

Jonathan Gold’s Scouting Report #3: East Borough

East Borough - Culver City

Straight outta Costa Mesa! Filing my third Scouting Report, “East Borough: When pasta gets the full-on pho treatment,” on the Los Angeles Times‘ Daily Dish.

Name: East Borough – “East” as a nod to the cuisine and “Borough” to pay homage to the restaurant’s East Coast influences.

The chefs: The restaurant’s menu is a collaborative effort between Chefs Chloe Tran and Jason Neroni. The former honed her Vietnamese cooking chops aboard her family’s NorCal food truck before opening the original East Borough in Costa Mesa in 2010, while the latter makes some of the city’s meanest, most creative pastas at Superba Snack Bar.

Concept: A “fraîche” take on Chef Tran and partner John Cao’s O.C. restaurant, with an infusion of new ideas from Chef Neroni and Restaurateur Paul Hibler (Pitfire Artisan Pizza, Superba Snack Bar). Lunch swings toward traditional Vietnamese with banh mi, spring rolls, and vermicelli noodles on deck, while dinner presents boldly flavored and creative plates, like whole trout with grilled pineapple and anchovies and tamarind-slicked lamb ribs.

What dish represents the restaurant, and why? Phởcatini—toothsome strands of handmade bucatini receive the full-on ph treatment complete with oxtails, hoisin, onion, cilantro, and Thai basil. A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds the perfect tangy touch.

Runner up: The “Head On Blue Shrimp” with pomelo and crab paste butter is a testament to East Borough’s commitment to delivering big flavors. It’s funky, spicy, and fabulous. The ginger rice served on the side plays the perfect foil.

Who’s at the next table? Worker bees from nearby offices by day and Culver City dwellers (with a smattering of Kirk Douglas Theater-goers trickling in before and after the show) by night.

Appropriate for: Vietnamese food aficionados who are delighted by thoughtful design and punchy flavors.

Uh-oh: The space can be loud and dark during dinner, so choose your dining companions wisely.

Service: Apron-donning gents with dependable recs about what’s good to eat and drink.

What are you drinking? On the clock—blood orange cinnamon soda. Off the clock—tequila-spiked tamarind cocktail with lime and sriracha salt.  

Info: 9810 West Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232, (310) 596-8266, East-Borough.com

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