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Sep 19, 2008 10:19 AM

Mo Slanted Door

My cousin was visiting town so I made res at SD. We had a very nice dinner with Hamachi sashimi, SD roll, shaking beef, noodles with crab. I enjoyed it very much and so did she. I was most interested to read the discussions about SD on previous posts and wanted to throw in my .02. The menu was light on the Vietnamese dishes that I know but I can see that the place is trying to transcend being just a Vietnamese restaurant. They are creating some wonderful dishes with an Asian base that work really well together. Their prices are high but I expected that. The service was excellent, without being obtrusive. The space was beautiful and while it was noisy, we could still talk. I would definitely recommend this place with the caveat that it is not a traditional Viet restaurant.

Interesting anecdote. Co-workers and I frequent a little joint in Cotati called Mai run by a lovely Chinese/Viet woman. Several weeks ago we had a Vietnamese guy come out to do some training. We took him to Mai and he immediately noted that she wasn't ethnic Vietnamese. He thought the food was Ok but what was really telling was he gave us his criteria for great vietnamese food. One word - Price. He said nothing about quality of ingedients, freshness, variety, cleanliness, atmosphere. All he cared about was how cheap it was. He raved about vietnamese sandwiches on white rolls because they were only 2 bucks.

Go figure. As the gentleman in Borat noted "We are experiencing some real cultural differences here"

I look forward to trying some of the other restaurants mentioned in prior SD posts.

Thanks, and buen provecho

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  1. >>Several weeks ago we had a Vietnamese guy come out to do some training. We took him to Mai and he immediately noted that she wasn't ethnic Vietnamese. <<

    I'm not sure where I heard the following, but somebody told me that many of the Vietnamese restaurants in SF are run by people who are ethnically Chinese, but lived in Vietnam.


    3 Replies
    1. re: waldrons

      That is true of many of the notable Vietnamese restaurants, like PPQ Dungeness, Bodega Bistro, even The Slanted Door itself.

      1. re: waldrons

        Most Vietnamese refugees/boat-people are actually ethnic-Chinese but whose forefathers had lived in Vietnam for generations. They were discriminated against by the Vietnamese government, so many migrated to the West. But their food (i.e. those served in Viet restaurants in the US) is still Vietnamese, not Chinese.

        I find some of the most authentic Viet food in places like BC Deli in Oakland Chinatown. Slanted Door is a cool spot, but its food is fusion-Cal-Viet at best.

        1. re: klyeoh

          I am not sure if that's true at all, refugees were both Viet and Chinese-Viet. For some reason, many of the ethnic Chinese-Vietnamese came to San Francisco from Saigon's (HCMC) massive Chinese neighborhood called Cholon. Most who resided there are bilingual in that they speak both Vietnamese and Chinese dialects. In contrast, San Jose, Orange County and other places have a plethora of ethnic Vietnamese refugees (i.e non-ethnic Chinese). . There is some relevance to the distinction. Just like Vietnam's regional difference in food (Hue style v. Dalat highland etc.), ethnic Chinese styles can (certainly not always) impact the flavors in a Vietnamese restaurant. Try Quan Hy in Westminster (Orange County) or Vung Tau in San Jose and you will shocked by the number of Vietnamese dishes that you never see offered on menus in San Francisco. And in those two restaurants you would never see Cantonese style Beef Chow Fun that you will sometimes find in San Francisco Vietnamese restaurants.

      2. Thanks for another different view of Slanted Door from recent posts, especially that Hamachi.

        Slanted Door
        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

        1. It sounds like you've never had a Vietnamese sandwich aka banh mi. Don't knock them til you've tried them. The "white roll" is actually the product of the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine from the colonial days.

          There are many people around the world -- and especially throughout Asia -- who are ethnically Chinese but whose families have lived in another country for generations.