Chloe Tran is the chef and co-founder of East Borough, a pair of modern Vietnamese restaurants, the latest of which opened in Culver City. (The original is in Costa Mesa.) The menu is Tran's own take on the Southern California Vietnamese food she grew up with. The much talked-about phocatini is a dish of smoked bucatini with oxtail, hoisin, Sriracha, bean sprouts and Thai basil, the result of a collaboration with partner Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar (that's where the noodles are made). Fried rice is dotted with salt cod, chicken and rapini. Cauliflower and long beans come with mint, basil, peanuts, fried shallots and nuoc mam reduction. And bo steak frites is tender Vietnamese beef bo, served with crispy daikon rice cake fries.
What's coming up next on your menu?
Shellfish with fermented black beans using a wok as a smoker to develop that wok hei flavor.
Latest ingredient obsession?
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?
I keep going back to Ramen Yamadaya. I get the tonkotsu kotteri, which has black garlic oil and fatty broth.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives?
A peeler. Many of our dishes feature vegetables, so we are constantly preparing ingredients that require a lot of peeling.
What's your favorite breakfast?
A pâté chaud and Vietnamese yogurt. The pâté chaud has a classic meat filling and is baked in a puff pastry. The yogurt is a more tart and slightly runnier version of the tangy frozen yogurt, both of which are the love child of French and Vietnamese cooking.
East Borough, 9810 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 596-8266, and 2937 Bristol St., No. D102, Costa Mesa, (714) 641-5010, www.eastborough.com.