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Anh Hong and Ponzu (Tenderloin, SF) - long

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Just had the 7 kinds of beef menu at Anh Hong with 2 pals, a vietnamese place in the Tenderloin. One of my pals was Vietnamese and her take on it was totally positive - good and authentic. I thought it was a great deal for around $14. Service is a bit slow, but water and napkins etc came quickly when we requested them. It's not a fancy restaurant, and we had no complaints.

There a salad with boiled slices of very light beef (veal?) - tangy and sweet with lemon, thinly sliced onion, turnip, chopped peanuts, basil and a few things I can't remember. Crisp and sharp starter.

Next was a beef "fondue" - thin (but not shabu shabu thin) slices cooked in a vinegry broth seasoned with fried garlic. Like most of the things after it, the beef is wrapped in the usual vietnamese rice wrapper with cilantro, mint, lettuce, pickled carrots and turnips, bean sprouts and cucumber. Pretty good. The pungent fish sauce dip spiced up with the red chilli sauce was great (we passed on the more common sweet honeyed sauce).

Next - a juicy beef sausage with a flavor reminiscient of the waxed chinese sausages, but deeper in flavor and meatier. Came with keropok-like shrimp crackers.

A "pate" like dish - steamed minced beef with finely chopped mushrooms, cilantro?, rice vermicelli.

Then minced beef wrapped in lot leaves (one of my favorties) and another "sausage" with lots of sauerkraut-like stuff in the middle for texture.

Lastly, a gingery and well flavored brothy rice porrige with minced beef and stripes of lean beef. The rice porrige was great - the rice grains themselves were broken into smaller bits (about halves) for a lighter and more articulated texture.

Overall it was a good meal. I wish we had a beef carpacio dish like the one we had at golden deer a while ago, but everything was well prepared and on the whole it was better orchestrated and tastier than golden deer.

After that we moved to Ponzu for dessert. We had:

a chocolate dim sum (for 2) - at $10 you get 4 little things - that's $2.50 a piece - an excellent value considering that it was a restaurant quality dessert. There was a moist if somewhat uncreative chocolate cake, a chocolate terrine with a demure and well tuned (no it's not reese's) peanut butter flavor, a creamy chocolate hazelnut cake with good caramel sauce, and my favorite of the 4 - a dense espresso-rich chocolate pot de creme. Not the best examples of chocolate desserts I've had (except maybe the pot de creme and the terrine) but very worthwhile nonetheless.

an excellent brioche bread budding - fluffy, moist and custardy and dotted with the sweet bursts of small whole huckleberries. Good combination with the ice cream - flavored with kumquats for just the right acid to balance its intrinsic richness. I liked it even more than the chocolate dim sum.

Service at Ponzu was slow but without incident. This place was mostly empty tonight (9-ish). I'm keeping it on my list for dinner; if the dessert was any indication, it's at least worth a try. Any been there - would love hear your dinner experiences.

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