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Jan 11, 2003 08:45 PM


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Where to find a good bowl of Pho(Vietnamese soup) in San Francisco, around NorthBeach/China Town area......

Also, had anyone been to Willi's Wine Bar in Santa Rosa.

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  1. My very longtime favorite is Golden Star, in Chinatown, off Clay Street on the small alley above Portsmouth Square (between Kearney and Grant).

    I have seen others post here who love it too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Thea

      I like Golden Star too. Another good one is Golden Flower.


      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I have never tried the pho at Golden Flower. Isn't it funny how you order one thing in a place and get stuck. I like the nice people at Golden Star and it is easy to get a table at night, as opposed to the busy lunch. When we enter they shout our "numbers" to us as we enter (creatures of habit). For a while it was the pho, the imperial roll/grilled pork noodle salad and the lemongrass shrimp.

        Can't remember what I used to get at Golden Flower, it has been a long time.

        Where is good 5 spice chix these days? Have not had in too long. Really I'd like to find a Vietnamese place that is especially good with the grilling...GS is only so, so. I like Tu Lan's grilled stuff better (but still not that great), but I won't eat there anymore. Have seen horrid food practices.

        1. re: Thea

          Yes, the folks at Golden Star are particularly good at remembering your likes and dislikes. It's part of the ambience.

          Coincidentally, my sister tried Golden King the day after I was there before reading my post and ordered the same dish even! She said she liked the pho very much and appreciated the uncrowded peace and quiet too. She said at 1:30pm, there were people waiting on the sidewalk outside Golden Star to get a seat, and since Golden King's "grand opening" banner and double storefront facade are just across Clay St. easily visible from Golden Star, she wondered why others didn't try it just once like she did. As you say, it's easy to get in a rut.

          Sorry, I can't help you on the 5-spice chicken. I've given up ordering it for awhile, too many disappointment, the worst of which was at Cordon Bleu. You might want to start a fresh thread at the top of the board with the appropriate subject line to get the attention of more 'hounds.

    2. This morning I tried Golden King, a new Vietnamese restaurant, with a “Grand Opening” banner outside. It’s been open for seven weeks and took over the space from the strangely misguided Chinese restaurant that featured ostrich dishes and Boston clam chowder. It’s in Chinatown, across Clay Street and up the hill from Portsmouth Square.

      The house specialty is pho, although there’s an assortment of other noodle soups and rice plates on the menu. I tried #2 with rare flank, well-done brisket, tendon and tripe for $4.50. It came with beautiful basil, fresh and crisp bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, and lemon (not lime). The meats were carefully arranged in the big bowl. The kitchen gets extra points for elevating the rare slices above the hot broth so they don’t overcook. The tendon was soft with a gentle resistance and good flavor. The tripe was cut finely and the fatty brisket was particularly abundant and tasty. The rice noodles were firm, loose and the narrow variety.

      The broth was not as darkly colored as some, which I considered a positive. There was a bit more oil on top than usual, not a slick but a few beads, but this may have come from the added brisket. It had a light cleansing taste – not sweetened, oversalted or MSG’d – and wasn’t dominated by caramelized onions or star anise. The soup bowl was garnished with cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, and slivers of yellow onion. My only complaint about this dish was that the onion shavings had not been properly conditioned and were too strong and sulfurous.

      Later when I paid my bill and complimented the cashier on the lightness and intensity of the broth, she smiled and said to me in Cantonese, the equivalent of “it has the true taste of the bones”. That it does. The kitchen is paying attention to detail and the offerings here merit further exploration.

      Golden King Vietnamese Restaurant
      757 Clay St.
      (between Grant Ave. and Walter U Lum Place)
      San Francisco
      Open 9:30am to 9:00pm


      1. Bodega Bistro in the Tenderloin! Get pho tai (rare beef). I always order the beef on the side to add it slowly. It's not on the menu but they will make it for you :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: adwf

          There have got to be more recent threads on PHO than 2003.

          1. re: wolfe

            I googled and this came up, not realizing the dates.

        2. PHO is originated from Northern Vietnam. The North Vietnamese resettlers came to the south when Vietnam was divided and brought with them their pho cooking expertise. The South Vietnamese pho is served differently from their Northern counterparts. Both are excellent. The Southern Pho served with bean sprouts and mint leaves in the same bowl with white noodles while the Northern pho served without mint and sprouts. Most pho outlets in the Bay area run by the Vietnamese ethic Chinese and are considered imitation. The good authentic Northern Vietnamese PHO place in San Francisco that many Vietnamese who live in San Francisco going for their pho is Turtle Tower on Larkin street

          1. pho hoa tran. jones below ofarrell. simply the best