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Lime Tree Mini-Report

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Four of us checked out the new Malaysian/Singaporian restaurant on Irving and Fifth last night. Its a small space, half underground, but easy to spot given the bright lime paint job outside. They've been open for about two months. The owner is really sweet with he and one other man doing all of the cooking and serving. We all enjoyed our experience and will return again. Most of all its the sort of sweet little place you'd really like to see succeed. Some dishes still need a little work (to my tastes, I know nothing about authentic Malaysian food) but I think they'll work out the kinks in the next few months. I think a lot of dishes are started from scratch when you order them so things took a little while to come out. The owner/chef/waiter was very interested to know what dishes I had liked best and which we hadn't. Its a very short menu and at 8pm they were out of the pork short ribs and beef rendang both of which sounded tasty, we'll have to go back.

Roti - Amazing! Buttery, flaky, hot, artistically draped on the plate and served with wonderful curry sauce (coconut, good heat, slightly sweet). Yum!

Mutabak - Also very good, same Roti exterior folded around a nice mixture of ground beef, egg, and green onion. Luckily more of the curry sauce came with it.

Chicken Satay - Tasty but nothing to write home about.

Chicken Curried Glass Noodles - Excellent sauce and good noodle texture, could have used some more vegetables and chicken.

Glass Noodles with Shrimp, Shitake Mushroom, and Basil - As with the other glass noodles the sauce was very good but I thought it needed some more vegetables.

Roast Chicken with Chili Sauce - The chicken was excellent, not overly seasoned with a nice caramel color to the skin. Moist, flavorful. The chili sauce needed some heat.

They don't have a beer and wine permit yet, so we brought our own beer.

Total = 35$ after tax and tip

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  1. Sounds delicious. I added some details for anyone interested.

    Looking around the web, the roti seems to get lots of thumbs up. The prices on the menu are amazing with most dishes around $5

    Great reports, China. Liked the La Fonda post. Interesting places that don't get reported.

    Lime Tree - Southeast Asian Kitchen
    (415) 665-1415

    450D Irving St.
    between 5th and 6th Ave.
    San Francisco, CA 94122


    1. Thanks rworange. I'll keep them coming.

      1. Any recent reports? yelpers seem to love this place and so I'm very interested in trying it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hhc

          The paratha ($2.50)was outstanding! It's so hard to find good ones in SF. It's so good you can eat it without the curry sauce. The beef rendang with rice ($6.99) was also very good and enough for 2 people. The decor is thoughtful and tasteful. The owner is friendly as can be. If you go, be sure to ask what the special of the day is, which will not be in the menu.

        2. we just ate there for the first time on Sunday.. and shameful because it is only 6 blocks from my house. I highly recommend it and the owner is so nice.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Lori SF

            He's very gracious... today's Special ($8.99) is salmon wrapped in a banana leaf, moist and delightfully spicy - not for the timid taster. We had the special for lunch today...with roti partha, beef randang and tea. The beef randang has tender cubes of beef in a dark, rich, spicy, thickened sauce - perfect with the Jasmine rice. Total: $21+tip - everything is exceptionally tasty with complex mulit-layered spicing.

            Today's lunch was a follow-up to our excellent lunch on Tuesday...
            Tuesday; roti pratha, martabak, corn fritters, and roast chicken with sweet chili sauce - and a freshly squeezed orange juice.
            The roti is hot and flaky so that it melts on your tongue and the accompanying curry dipping sauce is a great punch of flavors. The corn fritters are crisp with fried corn and minced prawns. The martabak is the roti pratha stuffed with green onion, eggs, and minced meat - a hearty starter. The roasted chicken is baked to falling-off-the-bone tender with a sumptuous skin and a nicely sweetened chili sauce. Flavors are clean and sharp, garnished with slice of tomato and cucumber.

            Lime Tree is a delight.

            1. re: Cynsa

              It was lovely. The roti especially is simple and perfect (and so awful and greasy in most places). Very modest. I hope we can persuade him to make laksa some time.

          2. adding link:

            Lime Tree - Southeast Asian Kitchen
            450 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

            1 Reply
            1. re: hhc

              The Lime Tree is definitely one of our favorites in this neighborhood. Ming, the owner, is a supremely nice guy. As mentioned above, the roti is one of his signature dishes and is excellent. The tofu and shrimp special was not mentioned above but is delicious - curried, sweet and a little spicy. It's often available tho not explicitly written on the menu. The roast chicken is my personal favorite. Ming also makes a spicy terasi sauce (shrimp paste) which is an excellent accompaniment to the chicken. Fortunately, business is picking up more and more for the Lime Tree, and I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a pleasant, casual meal.

            2. We've eaten at Lime Tree several times for lunch, now and we like it quite a lot. As many others have said, the Roast Chicken is excellent. Ask for some additional chili sauce (he has a sauce he says is Korean that has a lot of kick) to go with it.

              Last time we were there he had a shrimp, tofu and spinach dish on special and it was quite good. We love the fried corn fritters and the roti was also tasty.

              The owner also couldn't be any nicer, its really a pleasure to eat there.

              1. That the chef had previously worked at straits would make sense as to why I didnt like this place. I had been to the original straits location and the food was edible at best. When I went to Lime Tree, the food seemed to either be way over seasoned or way underseasoned.

                I loved the space and decor, but they need some help organizationally. Food took a while to come out, and none of what we ordered was what we were really expecting. We ordered potato cakes, the chicken, and the ribs. The potato cakes were good, albeit smaller than we would have liked. These were well seasoned.
                The chicken was the blandest thing ever, and iirc, they were served with standard frozen peas and carrots. You would think that they could have found a more suitable veg side in SF on Irving. And can someone please show them the salt shaker for the chicken? The ribs tasted like they were just boiled for 20 minutes in soy sauce and was very one dimensional.

                One thing i was wondering is if the roti there was made from scratch, or was it reheated frozen roti? Roti is pretty labor intensive, and i cannot imagine a kitchen that small would be able to stretch out and produce roti to order.

                1. I have eaten here so many times I have lost count, and my best friend eats here about four times a week (no lie!). Ming, the chef here at Lime Tree, is very gracious and remembers you if you introduce yourself. My favorites are the Martabak (the stuffed roti), the Corn Fritters, and the Tofu-Shrimp special. We usually go and order several dishes and share. Last time, our dinner for four (with several appetizers and entrees) came to merely $39. Ming also does a crab special that is totally awesome.

                  1. We were there for dinner this past Sat night and echo all the favorable comments on the food. The roti was excellent (made fresh, not frozen - I checked!) and the murtabak also good (although not spicy, which was good for the kids, but a bit of a surprise for the adults). The roast chicken was ok, the beef rendang was very good, as were the two glass noodle dishes (the curry one had the slight edge). Forget the chicken satay - didn't taste anything like what chicken satay should taste like (although the kids also liked it).

                    We arrived at around 7:20 pm - by that time, they were already out of the potato cakes and the pork spareribs. Before we left, they ran out of corn fritters and murtabak as well - so go early!

                    The kitchen is tiny, as everyone has mentioned, and we seemed to have ordered right after a few other tables - ensuring that our food took an awfully long time to come. The plus is that the owner, Ming, was super nice and came out to have a long chat with us. He's Indonesian-Chinese and did cook at the old Straits on Geary for some time.

                    The other interesting point is that they offer Dungeness Crab on weekends (not on the menu) - both chili and black pepper. The price depends on the weight - he told us that it was around $19 for a large 2 lb crab. Of course, they were sold out of this when we got there, and he suggested calling ahead to reserve for our next meal.

                    We'll be back - food was very reasonably priced, excellent flavors. The downsides are the parking (or lack thereof) and the kitchen timing.

                    1. Hello, enjoyed the review/comments from everyone.

                      We usually drive to Milpitas to get some Malaysian food, which is pretty far for us (we live in the East Bay), so I was excited to find out about Lime Tree. I'm curious if Lime Tree serves vegetarian dishes well. One of the reasons why we frequent Banana Leaf is that they have a large selection of veggie dishes, but we would like to find a place closer to us. I looked at the Jayakarta (in Berkeley) menu, but they don't have many vegetarian items at all.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: rekhas

                        Jayakarta seems to have many more vegetarian dishes than the on line menu for
                        Lime Tree shows. If fact many more items of all kinds. I believe J will make most any dish vegetarian as long as shrimp paste is not an integral part of the sauce.
                        They even have an occasional vegan dish.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          Jayakarta is (as the name suggests) Indonesian, and some people who ate there expecting Malaysian-style dishes have reported disappointment with the food. But if you go expecting Indonesian food, you'll probably be happy.

                          My detailed reports:


                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Sorry RL but I was only responding to rekhas who was not objecting to Jayakarta not being Malayasian enough but not having enough vegetarian dishes.

                            1. re: wolfe

                              They do have a lot of vegetarian dishes in that long menu.

                              1. re: wolfe

                                Thank you for everyone's comments :)

                                Yes, I am fully aware that Jayakarta doesn't serve Malaysian food but rather Indonesian, but we were merely looking for something to satisfy cravings for roti prata and the like. I did look at the Jayakarta menu and saw that a lot of dishes have the shrimp paste, egg, or other ingredients that are not vegetarian. I was not aware that they would make vegetarian dishes as we did not go in and ask. Looks like we might try it soon!