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Great Dinner at La Vie on Geary (longish)

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La Vie got quite a bit of press on this board, and I've also heard great things about it from multiple other sources, so a bunch of us went there for a birthday dinner last night. I really enjoyed the food. The portions were small, but also inexpensive, which makes it great for sampling tons of things.

We ordered a number of things that were to be wrapped in a very delicate and nicely elastic rice paper with mint leaves, lettuce, cucumber, pickles along with the usual Vietnamese sweet sauce. As you can see, we also went crazy on the tableside cooked dishes.

Here's what we got:

Sugar cane shrimp - a wrap dish - good shrimp, but loved the sugarcane even more because it was so sweet and picked up the savory flavors of the shrimp.

Vegetable crepe (wrap dish) - crispy, and full of bean sprouts, among other things; great texture, especially the crunchy bean sprouts.

A good crab soup with not too much crabmeat, but quite a bit of crab flavor, along with crunchy bits of sweet sweet sweet corn and a dash of cilantro.

an awesome Flaming beef and shrimp (wrap dish) - this is cooked table side: two shots of alcohol set aflame on a which also supports a bowl of the beef and shrimp. The sauce had great flavor and complexity and the shrimp and beef got along really well (probably my favorite, but see the catfish below).

Beef fondue (wrap dish) - thin beef slices cooked in vinegar by the waiter tableside. It was good and tender, but I had hoped for a slightly more vinegary flavor.

A chicken dish (can't remember the name, someone at the other end of the table ordered it and I didn't catch it - but also a wrap) - thin tender and delicious slices of chicken breast grilled tablside with butter and basil.

An OK chicken curry, that somehow didn't do much for me.

A terrific claypot catfish - very tender, fresh and clean flavor; texture was almost like unagi. The sauce was fantastic - sweet and tangy and slightly spicy from dried whole chillis.

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