Diep Tran, the chef-owner of Good Girl Dinette, talks in paragraphs. Nice paragraphs, punctuated by a lot of laughter and a story or two, often about growing up in the back of one kitchen or another: Her family started the Pho 79 restaurant chain after they immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, and, at home, her grandmother was a formidable cook.
Maybe it's not a surprise, then, that Tran riffs off the idea of grandmotherly comfort food at Good Girl Dinette; there are her rightfully popular pot pies, of course, but also thit kho, a bowl of caramelized pork that you don't see too often in most Vietnamese restaurants precisely because it's just that homey. For Tran, though, it encapsulates the Dinette perfectly: It's the sort of dish, she says, that "your grandma makes, puts in the fridge and always gets replenished."
Good Girl Dinette celebrated its fourth anniversary this year, and last weekend launched a brunch that includes a terrific turmeric dill hash, eggs and bacon cured in Red Boat fish sauce and lovely seasonal hand-pies. We talked to Tran about her new brunch menu, but not before she noted that she tends to get asked the same type of questions during interviews. Which opened the door to a conversation about how one resists or subverts stereotyping and the food media's irksome tendency to fetishize foods and neighborhoods. Plus, notes on the difficulties of managing a restaurant while writing poetry, how Victorian and Vietnamese cultures overlap and hosting a weekly supper club well before the so-called underground dining scene took off. Turn the page.More »