A lovely lunch at Golden Flower
Today for lunch in or near the FiDi I wanted a place to sit by myself, read a book, and enjoy great food at a low price. I visited Golden Flower for the first time in a few months and it really hit the spot.
I intended to have pho, which I had enjoyed on previous visits, but opted instead to order pork bun with imperial rolls (#40). The flame-broiled pork was exactly what I like: moist, well marinated, and charred at the tips. The cha gio (imperial rolls) were the best I've had in a long time. Stuffed with pork, carrot, mushroom, onion and taro in a crispy, crackly fried skin, three small rolls were chopped and placed atop the pork in the pile of rice noodles, lettuce, carrot, mint and bean sprouts. I just ate two hours ago and typing this is making me hungry again.
Tea is complimentary; I also ordered da chanh. Their version tasted like a tart mix of lime and lemon juice, with a dune of sugar at the bottom of the glass. I've noticed that some people mix the sugar in when the glass arrives, but I prefer to switch between 100% sweet and 100% sour: delicious.
Total bill for bun and lemonade: less than $9.
After lunch, I stopped by Golden Gate Bakery for an egg custard tart as it was only a block away. Why not?
Just tried their bun with grilled pork and shrimp today. I agree with the OP's praise of the grilled pork -- it is charred yet moist and thinly sliced. The raw vegetables won me over. The fresh lettuce and sprouts were a big improvement over the turning-brown-around-the-edges greens in Sai's bun (that's my main complaint about Sai's), and it came with a nice pile of pungent fresh herbs. My only peeve: I could have used more. Sai's, to their credit, is more generous with the noodles and the meat. Still Golden Flower's quality beats Sai's quantity.
I'm suddenly inspired to offer my personal bun ranking:
1. Bodega Bistro (bun cha ha noi), Tenderloin
2. Yummy Yummy, Inner Sunset
3. Golden Flower, Chinatown
4. Sunflower, Mission
5. Sai's, Financial District (especially the grilled chicken and the 5-spice chicken)
6. Happy Donuts, Financial District (Bush & Battery)
7. Out the Door, Ferry Plaza
I've been lucky with bun. All but Out the Door were good enough to have again.
re: david kaplan
A very fine list, indeed. I'm also a lover of bun, usually pork but sometimes beef. My list would probably go...
2. Yummy Yummy
3. Golden Flower
At Sai's I prefer the chicken curry soup, so I seldom have bun. I rarely stray from these three because they are so much better than the other versions I've tried. I disliked Out the Door the two times I tried it.