Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rate-A-Restaurant, #103 in a series

Restaurant: Indochine Vien

Location: 3110 Glendale Blvd. (Atwater Village)

Type of restaurant: Vietnamese

We stipulated: We were looking to go out for a quick dinner... but with Evan in tow -- and his bedtime right around the corner -- we needed to find a place that was (a) close by, (b) kid-friendly and (c) fast.

They stipulated: Park in the back... and look past the fact that you're dining in a strip mall. This is L.A. -- great restaurants sometimes exist in strip malls. Get over it.

What we ordered: Goi Cuon (Fresh Spring Rolls: Grilled chicken, steamed shrimp, vermicelli rice noodles, shredded lettuce, mint, green onion and bean sprouts wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper. Served with Vietnamese peanut sauce; $4.50); Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepe w/ Chicken and Shrimp: Mung bean and coconut milk batter, chicken and shrimp, sauteed with onions, delicately wrapped around steamed bean sprouts. Served with fresh mint, green leaf lettuce and Vietnamese sweet and sour dipping sauce; $6.75); Bun Tom Thit Nuong (Vermicelli rice noodles with strips of grilled marinated chicken breast and grilled marinated shrimps; $7.50)

High point: The Banh Xeo (the Vietnamese crepe appetizer) was a nice surprise. It's something neither of us had ever tried. It's messy (reminiscent of chicken lettuce cups, but with pieces of this crepe placed in lettuce leaves instead) but ultimately rewarding. The cold Vermicelli noodles were also excellent (including the meat) and while the spring rolls were less exciting, they still did the trick.

Low point: The menu isn't huge, and several of the selections that are there are just slight variations on each other. Granted, that makes ordering easy -- either you want noodles, Pho or rice, with either chicken, shrimp or tofu... but hopefully as the restaurant grows it will add a bit more to the mix.

Overall impression: Light and healthy food, priced right, in a smartly designed space... and it's incredibly close by. The service was even decent, as the waitress understood our limitations with the Bomb-Ass-Baby. I had read mixed reviews of Indochine, so I was pleasantly surprised by the overall good experience.

Chance we will go back: It's on the way home... I predict I'll be picking up food to bring home within the next few weeks.

(For a full roster of Franklin Avenue's restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.)

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