While 5i is still revving up for it’s grand opening at Sepulveda and Sawtelle, it’s already packing in a crowd of regulars who are delighted to have a top notch family-style Asian restaurant close to home. “We wanted to bring in all different kinds of Asian cuisine,” said owner George Lee, “so we have dim sum, we have pho, we have Japanese tempura and also Thai dishes, we have traditional Chinese entrees, and even American style Chinese dishes like like chow mein.”
Whatever kind of Asian flavors you fancy, you can find them at 5i.
Starting with dim sum, items that are not on everyone’s menu are done here with authentic flair. The har gow combines shrimp and pork in a steamed wrapper that is a perfect balance between the two flavors. Satay chicken and beef are not that difficult to make, but the satay sauce, an often thick and sticky peanut based liquid, is so light and clean here, it’s satisfying without ever being greasy. Spring rolls and pot stickers of several kinds – meat, tofu and veggie- are all very fresh and nicely seasoned. My only complaint is that the bao – white steamed buns filled with barbeque pork – has a filling that is just a touch too sweet. The meat is the ideal texture, but more vinegar and less sugar would make it work for me. They do come with an awesome chili sauce that spices things up, and the pillowy texture of the buns is ideal for dipping.
The much-abused orange chicken gets a new lease on life in this kitchen, and you can taste the care that’s put into balancing the orange and the chili. Walnut shrimp is the richest thing I’ve tasted so far, a serious entree that has so much going on with it’s sweet white sauce, it ought to be shared; it might even be dessert.
Singapore noodles and pad thai are both outstanding, with the taste of the curry and tamarind (in the respective dishes) shining out like light. The noodle dishes are well presented, with the finishing touches happening right before the plate gets to the table, keeping textures separate but quite equal.
If you are a pho fan, this is really your new hot spot. Pho is, of course, all about the broth, and the broth is beautiful. Pho Chin and Pho Tai are copper-colored pools where beef bones, onions and and a dozen other ingredients have happily given their all to blend into bliss. Pho Ga has a chicken stock that could win awards for clear, deep and satisfying.
All these dishes are so affordable you could eat here every day. Most of the dim sum and appetizers are $3 to 5, and top end for entrees is $9. You can order another meal to take home with you.
Which leads to my only other suggestion – the take out containers are such heavy plastic, you are almost getting a a new set of tupper-ware. Using more earth-friendly containers would help 5i fit in with the Culver City ethos of recycling. Still they are quite reusable,but it would be great if some more compost-able containers replace the ones now in use.
Bring friends, bring family, bring an appetite. But don’t think you ‘re coming on June 1st unless the Girl Scouts are giving you an award; they’ve already bought the house for the night. At last, Sunkist Park has a unique restaurant that’s right on top of quality, taste and trend.
5i Indochine Cuisine 5407 Sepulveda Blvd.,Culver City 90230 (310) 572-6000 [email protected]