QUESTION: Vietnamese food is good. Wine is good. Vietnamese food with wine is just excellent — in Paris, Tan Dihn has one of the best wine lists in the city, although the food may be less Vietnamese than a fantasia on Vietnamese themes. Mango, mango, mango!
In Los Angeles, though: nada. Either it’s the strictly enforced no-alcohol thing at places like Golden Deli, or the chic-cocktail thing at the fancy, Asian-y joints whose doormen are more skilled than the cooks. So: chao tom and Gewürztraminer. Give it up.
ANSWER: Even when there were Vietnamese restaurants with wine lists in Los Angeles, during the period when the cuisine was briefly popular with those Hollywood types for whom a lettuce leaf wrapped around three bean sprouts is a perfectly acceptable entrée, they weren’t what you would call good wine lists, unless you have a thing for supermarket Chardonnay and the kind of thin, French whites that could double as industrial solvents. And as good as their banh xeo may be, you have to be almost relieved that My Dung doesn’t have a wine list.
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Gingergrass, a sleek, new Vietnamese restaurant in Silver Lake, doesn’t have a wine list either. Its customers wash down the spicy fish steamed in banana leaves, the shrimp in fishy Vietnamese caramel sauce and the lemon-grass chicken with iced tea and delicious basil limeade instead. But the chef, who used to cook at Le Colonial, spices her food in a way not unfriendly to wine. And right across the street, the eclectic Silver Lake Wine Shop, whose motto may well be “You’ve Never Heard of Any of Our Wines” is prepared to set you up with the Alsatian Pinot Blancs, Austrian Gruner Veltliners, or weird Australian blends like Chook Chook that will power you through your Vietnamese meal. 2396 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 644-1600.