Nong Lá Café made waves when it opened in May.
The restaurant was a boon for Westsiders starved for banh mi and bun bo Hue, people who prefer their Vietnamese food with more flavor and fewer puns.
What was missing, however, was something boozy to quell the heat of the chile-spiked dishes. Rather than dotting the tables with any old light Asian lager, Nong Lá took a more exciting approach, opting for a short, relatively inexpensive list of wines, and a few Californian and Vietnamese beers too.
If you’re unfamiliar with Pépie Bulles ($40 for 750 ml), a sparkling Muscadet made by Marc Ollivier, don’t be perturbed: It’s one of just a few bubbly Melon de Bourgogne-based wines produced and, as such, an uncommon sight. Which is unfortunate, because every Vietnamese restaurant with a wine list should be pouring the stuff.
The grape’s brisk acidity, the bubbles, and the touch of residual sugar are a trio of physical qualities quite complementary to tart, spicy dishes--like that fragrant Central Vietnamese soup bun bo Hue ($8.50), or a cool bowl of bun topped with strips of charred pork ($8).
Should your meal require more than one bottle of wine, ordering more Pépie Bulles wouldn’t be a bad idea, but the La Grange Tiphaine rosé ($30 for 750 ml) pairs well with the food too.
Nong Lá Café, 2055 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A.; 310-268-1881 or nonglacafe.com