Restaurant: East Borough Fraiche Vietnamese
Location: 9810 W Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232. (310) 596-8266
Date: May 9, 2014
Rating: Fantastic Modern Vietnamese
In recent months I’ve had quite the education in Vietnamese food — centered around a two week trip to Vietnam (and the lengthy catalog of my dining adventures). But East Borough isn’t so far afield, being located in busy downtown Culver city.
This is a casual spot, presumably mostly taking advantage of the lively Culver City lunch trade. But let’s see how they handle the influx of 11 Sauvages du Vin members and a lot of wine!
This is the regular lunch menu — but we had our own set lunch designed to pair with the wines.
2005 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Mont. 90 points. Light yellow to yellow color in the glass, clear looking throughout. Nose of brown spices, peach cobbler and carmalized apples. Flavors of spice soaked pears, apple pie and fresh peaches. Medium to bright acidity, full bodied. Drink or hold. No rush. Should be long lived.
agavin: really nice semi-oxidized vibe going on.
2005 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Hengst. IWC 93. Bright yellow. Mirabelle, marzipan and nutmeg on the expressive nose. Sweet, dense and highly concentrated, with real generosity and freshness to its fruit flavors. There’s a spiciness here from botrytis. Finishes tactile and powerful. With its 14.4% alcohol and 48 g/l r.s., this could hardly be more different in its balance from the dry and somewhat topheavy 2004, which is 16.2%, with just 4 grams of sugar. It would be a shame to drink this too soon.
agavin: great semi sweet Alsatian
Tilapia Cerviche. Wonton crisp, cilantro, red onion. Bright flavors. The cerviche itself doesn’t seem so Vietnamese, but the herbs do.
From my cellar: 1990 Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendange Tardive. 94 points. Brilliant. This was clearly one notch up – a fine example of how good a ZH Pinot Gris can be when given enough time in the bottle. Opened a couple of hours before serving, it had a lovely nose that was classic late harvest Pinot Gris – honeysuckle and orange peel, sweet fruit oils, some nuts, a toss of earth, a little layer of yellow plum aromas – all very subtle, especially when compared to the exuberantly exotic Gewurztraminer, but really pretty nonetheless. It was on the palate where the gulf in class showed up though. This was simply lovely. There was great depth to its delicious flavours of orange peel and marmalade, dried longans and apricots sprinkled with baking spices, yet it was so wonderfully balanced and integrated with beautiful clean acidity that it was always graceful, elegant almost in the way it skimmed across the palate in spite of its weight and complexity. Immensely drinkable, yet classy and intellectual at the same time, the wine ended with a lovely detailed finish where a halo of sweet spice ringed its yellow fruited flavours. This should improve even more in the next few years, but it was a beauty of a wine even now.
1975 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Parker 88. This wine reached full maturity early and has taken on an increasing amount of amber/orange. It exhibits a dusty, herbaceous side as it sits in the glass. Although the wine is beginning to dry out, it is still an excellent claret, with classic, cedary, curranty fruit, combined with herbs and spices. Medium-bodied, with some sweetness on the attack, the wine narrows out and tastes more compressed and compact after it sits in the glass for 5-10 minutes.
Spring rolls. Lemongrass chili tofu, peanut sauce, grilled pork sausage, spicy tomato sauce. Extremely yummy spring roll. Bright fresh tastes and a very spicy sauce. Plus that sausage was awesome.
1995 Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Parker 95. Another unbelievably rich, multidimensional, broad-shouldered wine, with slightly more elegance and less weight than the powerhouse 1996, this gorgeously proportioned, medium to full-bodied, fabulously ripe, rich, cassis-scented and flavored Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a beauty. It should be drinkable within 4-5 years, and keep for 25-30. This classic Pauillac is a worthy rival to the other-worldly 1996. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2025.
1996 Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Parker 93. This is unquestionably a profound Grand-Puy-Lacoste, but it is excruciatingly backward. It reveals an essence of creme de cassis character which sets it apart from other Pauillacs. The wine is displaying plenty of tannin, huge body, and sweet black currant fruit intermixed with minerals and subtle oak. Massive, extremely structured, and with 25-30 or more years of longevity, this immensely-styled Grand-Puy-Lacoste will require 7-8 years of patience, perhaps longer. A superb, classic Pauillac. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2030.
agavin: a little more sour and tannic than it’s younger brother, but birds of a feather. You can really taste the terroir here.
Green papaya salad. Green papaya, duck jerky, cucumber, rau ram, cashews, red onion, spicy nuoc mam. This was the weakest dish — not that it was bad — but the dressing on the papaya was a little flat compared to these delicious ones in Vietnam. The duck however was amazing.
2003 Leoville-Poyferre. Parker 98. I have had this wine three times out of bottle, rating it 97 once and 98 twice. It is a colossal success and a potential legend in the making. Its saturated, dense inky/blue/purple color offers up notes of crushed rocks, acacia flowers, blueberries, black raspberries, and creme de cassis. A synthesis of power and elegance, this multi-layered wine has spectacular concentration, sweet but high tannin, and low acidity A stunning effort that showcases this legendary terroir, it is a brilliant, brilliant success. The quintessential Leoville Poyferre? Anticipated maturity: 2009-2030.
2000 Lynch Bages. Parker 97. Beginning to open magnificently, the still dense purple-colored 2000 reveals a blossoming bouquet of blackberries, cassis, graphite and pen ink. Full-bodied with velvety tannins that have resolved themselves beautifully over the last eleven years, this wine is still an adolescent, but it exhibits admirable purity, texture, mouthfeel and power combined with elegance. One of the all-time great examples of Lynch Bages, the 2000 is just beginning to drink well yet promises to last for another 20-25+ years.
Daikon rice cake & egg. Shiitake mushroom, cilantro, spicy soy. Seems simple and could be bland, but far from it. The spicy dressing had a real vinegar kick with I loved.
2003 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Parker 95. The brilliant, opulent, fleshy 2003 Pichon Lalande (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot) possesses a high pH of 3.8 as well as 13% alcohol. Reminiscent of the 1982 Pichon Lalande (which never shut down and continues to go from strength to strength), the dense plum/purple-colored 2003 offers gorgeous aromas of blackberries, plum liqueur, sweet cherries, smoke, and melted licorice. Fleshy, full-bodied, and intense, displaying a seamless integration of wood, acidity, tannin, and alcohol, this beauty can be drunk now or cellared for 20 years or more.
Belly & Egg. Star anise braised pork belly, poached egg, pickled mustard greens over ginger jasmine rice. Wow! Wow! You mix it up and eat. An amazing dish, rich and delicious. The egg looks sous vide.
Our young chef/owner, Chloe Tran did an amazing job.
From my cellar: 1995 Chapoutier Ermitage le Pavillon. Parker 99. The 1995 Ermitage Le Pavillon is magnificent. The wine is more accessible than the 1996 (due to lower acidity and more immediately accessible glycerin and fruit), with a magnificent black/purple color, and layers of cassis fruit, smoky, roasted meat, and mineral characteristics that are the result of barrel fermentation and high extraction of fruit. It is huge, but not heavy, gorgeously proportioned, and dazzlingly well-defined. A monster Hermitage of immense proportions, it somehow manages to keep everything in balance. This backward Pavillon will require 10-12 years of cellaring. It should age well through the first half of the next century.
agavin: incredible grapy nose and flavor to match. This is clearly a big unfiltered wine.
Hanger steak. Pepper, spicy sauce, and greens. Fantastic as well. Some heat here, but delicious.
F. X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibner Loibenberg. 95 points. nose; gun metal, white peaches, cigar tobacco, and pine sap. palate; bay leaf, white pepper, peat, and strawberry-rhubarb pie. full bodied.
medium plus acidity. 60 plus second finish. everyone should be drinking more gruner veltliner.
and with wines like this one, it’s a no brainer. this wine clearly show’s why F.X. Pichler is regarded as one of the best in Austria. any serious wine drinker should try one.
1990 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume. RJ Wine 95. Medium apricot color; most unusual lime cream, lime honey, mineral, green apple, pear nose; tasty, elegant, pear, lime cream, green honey, green apple, mineral, lime honey palate; long finish 95+ pts.
Chocolate pot du creme. Creme fraiche, salt, coconut. This was a flawless dessert. I happen to love any custard based dessert, and this one was delightfully creamy. The coconut and hint of salt really spiced it up too.
Vietnamese coffee. You mix up the sweetened condensed milk then pour over ice. Really as good as coffee gets.
Overall this was a fabulous lunch. The restaurant is a bit loud (hard surfaces), and the menu is small, but the food is absolutely top notch. Having just come from Vietnam the flavors are authentic but it’s interpreted through the modern LA lens — not such a bad thing. Our wines were great, although the big Bordeaux didn’t pair with the food (they were still good wines). This is a meal that really begs for more German and Alsatian wines. But that’s a minor quibble. Company was top notch too, so really nothing to complain about.