You can measure the mainstreaming of Vietnamese food by where it pops up. A fine example is Good Girl Dinette, a little café devoted to classic and modern Vietnamese comfort food. It’s run by Diep Tran, whose family owns the Los Angeles-based chain of Pho 79. (I’ve been to nearly all of them.) After working at non-profits for nearly 10 years, Diep wanted a career change. She was on the verge of burning out and decided to return to her family’s trade by opening hip Viet eateries in non-Viet neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
Her first venture was Blue Hen in Eagle Rock and her current restaurant, opened in 2009, is Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park. (Diep is no longer affiliated with Blue Hen.) Eagle Rock and Highland Park are not sexy areas of Los Angeles. They’re working class communities with diverse immigrant populations. They’re a tad edgy and out of the way. Tourists rarely go there.
Los Angeles is a place of urban and suburban opportunities to mesh cultures and create something new. Diep, whose family came to the United States in the 1970s, embodies that spirit of thoughtful reinvention. She’s not the typical Vietnamese woman and does things a little different. Here’s a glimpse of Good Girl Dinette.