For people who crave aggressive flavors, East Borough, a “Fraîche Vietnamese” restaurant in downtown Culver City from John Cao, Chloe Tran and American Gonzo Food Corporation partners Paul Hibler and Jason Neroni, is sure to become a regular haunt. East Borough is an upgrade in ambition, atmosphere (and alcohol) from the young couple’s more casual concept at Costa Mesa’s Camp anti-mall. In some instances, the flavors are even a little too pungent for my wide-ranging tastes, which was the case with blue shrimp bathed in crab paste butter. Still, other dishes hit the savory mark, like the rack of Lamb Ribs ($17) lacquered with tart tamarind and spicy Sriracha. Crunchy crushed peanuts, brightening Thai basil and cilantro completed the tender meat’s concentrated flavor profile.
Sadly, too often, restaurateurs tone down Asian flavors to “protect” seemingly timid Westside palates. That clearly won’t be the case at East Borough, where the “cyclo bandits,” culinary engines revving, have stormed Culver City.