With a rapidly approaching trip to Vietnam, most of my spare time lately has been focused on anything and everything Vietnamese. San Francisco has some wonderful Vietnamese restuarants, and I am excited to compare what I've eaten here with foods in Vietnam to see how the Bay Area stacks up.
Out the Door is the casual little sister to Charles Phan's renowned restaurant Slanted Door. While the Ferry Plaza's Out the Door is just a small stand with four or five seats, the new OTD at the Westfield Centre seats nearly 100 and features a takeout counter as well as full-service dining. The dining room is comfortable and efficient, and I enjoyed a great meal there recently. Just beware of the shedding napkins -- I was the friend wearing black mentioned here in Leah Garchik's column recently.
Cookiecrumb at I'm Mad and I Eat wrote about the Bahn Mi at Them Ky in the Tenderloin declaring them to be "Best Sandwich Ever". Bahn Mi are Vietnamese submarine sandwiches, made with baguettes and typically with barbecued pork or pate, and a mixture of pickled carrots, daikon, onions and cilantro.
Bodega Bistro is a well-loved Vietnamese restaurant on Larkin in the Tenderloin. The Bunrabs give the restaurant three carrots out of four, saying that "the prices are great for such fun and delicious chow." Robert Lauriston at SF Weekly says that the papaya salad is a standout and the deep-fried crab and black mushroom rolls (nem cua) are as good as those at Slanted Door.
Yummy Yummy on Irving is the place where I learned to truly love pho, the Vietnamese traditional noodle soup. While I have eaten pho at many other restaurants, Yummy Yummy's is a standout because of the broth which is bright, clean, and full of flavor.
Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant on Clement is a quiet, casual restaurant where you can eat lunch for around seven dollars. The pho here is very good, and they are known for their delicious imperial rolls. If you don't feel like crossing the part to go to Yummy Yummy, Mai's is a decent alternative.
What are your Vietnamese favorites?
607 Larkin Street
Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant
316 Clement Street
Out the Door
1 Ferry Plaza OR The Westfield Centre
717 Ellis Street
1015 Irving Street