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Best non-Slanted Door Vietnamese

My recent review of Slanted Door (short synopsis: nice service, unspectacular food) elicited a lot of feedback on Vietnamese restaurants in and around SF that do it better for cheaper. It seems like a topic that merits its own thread.

When I want to be blown away with quality Vietnamese dishes, here is where I go, with specific dishes, ranked from most hole-in-the-wall to least.

-Loi's in Sunset for pork bun

-Golden Flower, in between Chinatown and the Financial District, for pork bun with imperial rolls (#40) (with better than average veggies) and their great pho

-Turtle Tower on Larkin for pho ga

-Yummy Yummy in Inner Sunset for banh khot, bun cari ga, and crab dishes

-Bodega Bistro on Larkin for shaking beef and banh xeo

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  1. Is Pagolac still good for beef seven ways (bo 7 mon)?

    1 Reply
    1. Pho Tudo on Clement right now is my go to for Pho. The rest of the City is hit and miss re: Pho with Mangosteen on Larkin once serving me Pho Ga (chicken pho) with beef broth......

      1 Reply
      1. re: grubber4

        Mangosteen seemed to be a wanna-be fresh and trendy, and a bit of SE asian fusion type of place. Food was mediorce at best, and prices were above average for the quantity and quality. Skip it.

        1. re: susancinsf

          and banh xeo and the raw beef salad and the grilled lemongrass chicken.

          1. re: farmersdaughter

            and the banh khot, if you can get Kathy to have her husband make it for you. (It's not hard, in my experience.)

          2. PPQ on Irving for 5 spice chicken Bun.

            Sunflower on Valencia for Steamed Sea Bass & Banh Xeo.

            Pho Hoa Lao in Oakland Chinatown for Pho.

            Minh's in Milpitas for Grilled Catfish & Banh Xeo.

            1. A lot of people like Turtle Tower (Tenderloin) for Pho.

              I like Pagolac (Tenderloin) for everything I have had there.

              Tenderloin Pho thread:

              Further away:
              Vung Tau/ (San Jose)/Vung Tau II (Milpitas) for grilled onion beef roll, imperial rolls.

              Binh Minh Quan (Oakland Chinatown) for lots of things.

              1. Totally enchanted by the northern style cooking at Nha Toi in San Jose, especially the Malabar spinach soup with crab.

                1. i'm just starting to get to know Ngoc Mai, so far for noodle soups like bun bo hue and bun rieu.

                  the roast crab at La Vie turns me into an absolute pig, with sauce smeared across my nose and forehead and shards of shell in my hair.

                  1. bo tai chanh and the beef salad at pho 84 in oakland

                    1. La Vie was my place for a long time but I haven't been there in awhile. I always ordered the catfish clay pot and the shrimp & beef cooked tableside.

                      1. Best pho I've had was definately Turtle Tower- good broth, good texture noodles and huge pile of herbs, chiles and bean sprouts. Bodega Bistro is okay but I don't crave it the way I crave Turtle Tower on a cold rainy day.

                        On the same stretch of Larkin, Mangosteen is horrible. I tried them twice- once was not impressed and another time it was actually bad (inedibly bad). Then they catered an event I was at- ugh! The satay had huge pieces of kaffir lime leaf shoved between all the pieces of meat. It was too tough to chew and overwhelmingly strong. What a waste of good kaffir leaves.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jbsirkin

                          I agree with ya Jbsirkin. Turtle Towers Chicken soup with internal organs is good. Today I decided to try something new, forgot the name, but it was rice vermicelli + shredded pork + shredded eggs, and chicken. I did not care for this though I did finish a large bowl after working out at 24 Hour. I just did not think i all blended well together.

                          Re Bodega Bistro, I did like the dry noodle salad with roast pork. I thought they did a good job is cutting out the fat from the pork, and the herbs were very fresh.

                          I want to try Pagolac, passed by there today and it was full house..though one observation, the majority of the people inside were not Asian. Will have to read up on the reviews on this place.