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My-Le

First things first: My-Le (pronounced "mee lay") is far from fancy. It occupies a humble second-floor room in a shabby building on a side street lined with love hotels and cheap taverns, within earshot of the busy JR train lines. You may feel you've strayed to the wrong side of the tracks. But as soon as you see the care that has gone into the illustrated multipage menu, you realize you are definitely in the right place.

Nor is My-Le new. The restaurant has been here for two decades now, although for more than half that time it traded under the bald, unimaginative name "Vietnam." But when current owner Akinori Masauji took over along with his Vietnamese wife, he did more than rename it for his mother-in-law: He ushered in a far more contemporary feel.