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best (lower cost) vietnamese in/around SF?

my boyfriend & i just moved from atlanta and are sure there's great vietnamese cuisine out here, just haven't found it yet. we're looking for cheap(er) stuff, not open door-type restaurants (though we love that too!)
i'm a pescetarian, and LOVE the wrap-it-yourself shrimp/salmon dishes (don't know what they're called! help!), and my boyfriend is looking for really good bun.

so far we've tried:
tao cafe (1 block from our apartment)- we were really bored by the food, though it's cute.
pagolac - good, but perhaps more beef-oriented than we're typically into. it was also cheap & cute, so we're willing to try it again.
sunflower cafe (also close to our place)- we were told the catfish hot & sour soup was amazing, but after ordering it, thought it was too sweet, and not 'hot'/spicy enough... the rest of our meal was good but again, not amazing.

any suggestions!?!?? we like spicy, we like fresh. if there's any other posts that relate to this, too, please let me know (have searched without much luck). we'll leave the city if anyone has suggestions about places that serve great versions of the particular dishes we're craving.

thanks all!!

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    1. Welcome to SF!

      Try the cha ca Hanoi at Turtle Tower - really great fish dish. Also great is the pho (although this is not good for pescetarians)

      Another good choice is Lotus Garden, which is in Mission/Bernal Heights. This place is a tad nicer (good service and decor) and cost can vary depending on what you order, but overall it's pretty inexpensive.

      There are lots of posts on both of these places.

      There are tons more Vietnamese restaurants to try. I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys like best, since I am always looking out for new, good Vietnamese restaurants (especially ones to visit with non-meat eating friends)

      Dave MP

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      Lotus Garden
      3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Turtle Tower Restaurant
      631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dave MP

        thanks!! we'll definitely check those out & let you know what we think....

      2. Out in the Richmond there's La Vie. Pleasant environment, very good food, very solid. At one time it was on Chron's Top 100 list. Not inexpensive but reasonable.

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        La Vie Vietnamese Restaurant
        5830 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

        2 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          Isn't there a connection between La Vie and Lotus Garden? I thought I remember something like brother and sister.

          1. re: bdl

            The owners of La Vie and Lotus Garden are related, but the two are run as seperate operations. There is a similarity in the menus.

        2. PPQ on Irving and 19th has amazing pho - there's on in the Richmond district too, on Clement I think. They have seafood pho if you don't want beef.

          Personally I like Sunflower too, though it's not the best.

          2 Replies
          1. re: yogurtsoda

            Speaking of PPQ, don't miss the five spiced chicken bun, best five spiced chicken I've ever had.

            1. re: DezzerSF

              Agreed! PPQ used angus beef slices in the pho the last time I was there (and wonderful broth btw). And their five spiced chicken is phenominal. Their quality of food is excellent for the price.

          2. You'll have to adventure into the Tenderloin, but it is well worth it... Bodega Bistro on Larkin street (at O'Farrell?). They have great Bun.
            Also, try Bodhi, on Valencia between 13th and 14th. I've only been there for lunch, but the food is fresh and very good.