A bad vibe at another restaurant in The Camp led us to leave before ordering, which turned out to be a good thing. The eco-friendly complex in Costa Mesa has several other dining options, including East Borough, a relatively recent open-air addition featuring “Fraîche Vietnamese” cuisine. We ordered some shrimp and pork spring rolls and a lemongrass grilled pork banh mi, which were both good, but it was the special pork belly bowl that made the biggest impression.
East Borough reminded me a lot of Hawker Fare, and it wasn’t nearly as funky, but that may have been a blessing. The pork belly bowl ($8.35) featured a halved boiled egg that was still hot, big chunks of tender, meaty belly, pickled mustard greens to undercut the dish’s richness, and a pork gravy sweetened with onions. One of the things that separated East Borough from a lot of fast casual Asian concepts was their clear focus – Vietnamese – and their attention to detail. For instance, the bowl came with a sidecar of (warm) gravy to pour over the white rice. And of course the belly arrived in an eco-friendly bowl, which sure wouldn’t happen in nearby Little Saigon.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.