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Feb 5, 2009 12:54 PM

Heaven's Dog [San Francisco]

Any reports on the new Charles Phan restaurant in the SOMA Grand building? It looks like it might just have opened this week.

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  1. We went last night and ordered:

    shrimp and chive dumplings
    salt and pepper calamari
    vermicelli noodles with shrimp and pork in curry flavor (singapore rice noodles)
    organic pea shoots
    thai basil ice cream

    overall, a nice modern space with very good food.

    the shrimp and chive dumplings were a slight disappointment as they didn't have a ton of flavor. the wrapper was a bit hard on the edges and they were soy sauced a bit too much.

    on the other hand, the calamari was fantastic, especially if you like the heat of the fried chili and scallions on top. i've had my share of s/p calamari, but the greaseless light touch from the deep fryer had the best texture ever. it's a must order.

    the vermicelli noodles (singapore rice noodles in actuality) scored well as did the fresh pea shoots which had a nice flavoring of carmelized shallots.

    we finished with the thai basil ice cream. creamy consistency coupled with the right amount of frozen hardness. for some reason, they did not have decaf coffee in any form... only tea. a let down, but i just had a few sips of my hubby's french press. not sure if this is something they're going to rectify or if it simply is not an offering.

    i'd definitely stop by for a meal again if in the area, though i probably wouldn't go out of my way to make a special trip. i'm sure it'll become a fave destination for the people that work and live nearby, and rightly so.

    6 Replies
    1. re: toofacetious

      Do they have a good tea selection like Slanted Door?

      Heaven's Dog
      1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      1. re: rworange

        Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the tea selection as I wasn't interested, but I imagine it would be pretty good.

        1. re: DezzerSF

          With the above selections, one order of rice, and two bottles of Hitachino beer, $81 before tip. It felt appropriate for the quality, amount of food, and the more casual setting compared to Slanted Door.

          1. re: toofacetious

            How many people was this for? We ate Friday night at Zarzuela, including one glass of sangria and one glass of wine, we spent $47 plus tip and were a bit too full when we left, ending up walking to Coit and back to work some of it off. Great food, too. I have trouble imagining a Chinese restaurant and that neighborhood being worth $81 for two, even for Chef Andy's food.

        2. re: toofacetious

          What a great name for a hot dog cart.

        3. Typically Slanted Door, slightly expensive menu so I was a little nervous about trying the place. Plus the location is kind of a pain.

          However, although I didn't think it would be possible, the shanghai dumplings were very good. Filled with juice that was very rich in collagen, meat very lightly seasoned, piping hot. Only 6 to an order for $9, though. I was clued into trying them because someone on Yelp said something oxymoronic like, "Shanghai dumplings were too juicy."

          The edamame salad should really have been called tofu noodle salad. Good knife work and I like the pickled mustard greens mixed in. However, it was a touch too salty.

          The soup in the red braised beef stew was meaty, with a bright tomato flavor. It actually kind of reminded me of bo kho with Shanghainese 5 spice beef. There was a lot of meat. I could have done with a couple pieces of bok choy in the soup. Minus points for using udon noodles. The soup really deserved some of the noodles from Beijing Restaurant.

          I feel like the food could have been a touch hotter. My lunch companion thinks all their nice heavy china is sucking the heat out of the food.

          Excellent tea selection as expected and some interesting cocktails.

          Service was very attentive. Almost too much.

          I think if you're a fan of Out the Door, you'll be happy with the place despite the stupid name. If you think OtD is overpriced and/or inauthentic, you'll probably think the same of Heaven's Dog.

          I'm kind of in the middle, but I have to say those silly dumplings were very good.

          1. The lamb skewers are criminally hot. It was difficult to finish the dish. I like spicy but it was almost unpleasant.

            The restaurant is smaller than I had thought it would be. Lots of seats at the bar and then a main dining room off to the back left. The location is rather unusual and I think will be difficult. It is in a part of Soma that just doesn't have much foot traffic.

            A staffer mentioned that business has been slow. The combination of a non-A location and so-so food reviews could prove fatal in this economy.

            1. Six of us went for dinner last night as a precursor to watching"Wicked". It's only 1.5 blocks from the Orpheum Theatre so extremely convenient for dinner beforehand. Overall we were pleasantly surprised -- some of the reviews have been negative but with only a few exceptions, we enjoyed our dishes and drinks.

              * Lamb skewers: Well seasoned and perfectly cooked, these pieces of meat were bursting with cuminy lamby goodness. They were slightly spicy so those who don't appreciate spiciness may want to avoid. Portion was a decent size.
              * Curry beef stew clay pot: Wow, what comfort food! Each chunk of beef was so tender and flavorful. Though the vegetables were a tad overcooked, the beef more than made up for them.
              * Spicy green beans: Another standout with good wok breath and the perfect char. Portion was a bit small, though.

              * Shanghai dumplings: Not the best xiao long bao I've had but very respectable with a decent amount if juice inside, The filling had a lovely porky taste, and it was graciously served with soup spoons, black vinegar, and slivered ginger
              * Pork belly with clamshell bums: Thin slices of pork belly were served with scallions inside a puffy bun (like what you'd get at some restaurants with Peking duck). Could use a tad larger piece of pork but otherwise very satisfying.
              * Stir-fried vermicelli with mushrooms: A bit of curry gave this dish a nice kick
              * Steamed black cod: We were a bit surprised to see it was steamed with black beans, but here the flavors were quite gentle and perfectly highlighted the fish.
              * Beignets: Six puffy beignets the size of donut holes were served with a custardy dippng sauce
              * Candy dish: Another dessert made up of pieces of chocolate (filled with runny caramel), macaroons, and jellied fruit. This was a bit hard to share but it was a great way to end the night!

              * Beef & Scallions w/ Egg Noodles: The fresh noodles had great texture, but the sauce was a bit on the weak side. This could have been an outstanding dish with a stronger hand with the flavors.
              * Salt & pepper smelt: Finger-sized smelt were lightly coated with batter & fried, and served with scallions, garlic, and chilies. This sounded like a winning combination but the smelt were on the soft side -- I wish that either the batter was tad thicker or they were fried longer to give them more crunch.

              * Red braised beef noodle soup: The big letdown of the evening, the soup was almost tasteless, and the dry slices of beef didn't help any.

              The drinks at Heaven's Dog were outstanding -- they have very talented bartenders in the house. All the drinks had a great balance of the individual components, and the hand-cut ice cubes lent a stylish touch. We tried almost every drink on the menu; standouts were the tiger's milk, gin fizz, and tropical apricot, but all were interesting and enjoyable.

              Service was quite good as well -- our water glasses were promptly filled, and when the cod was a few minutes late, the waiter graciously comp'ed us the dessert even though we didn't think that was necessary. Most of the dishes were assertively seasoned but we really enjoyed that aspect, and would be happy to visit the restaurant again. With about 2 cocktails ($10 each) per person, plus all the dishes above and some coffee/tea, the total came out to $57/person which seemed reasonable with the quality of food, plus quantity of drinks.

              As a side note: the SOMA Grand garage where we parked closes at midnight, which we didn't realize and had a bit of trouble retrieving our car (we went for drinks at a bar after the show, which is why we returned late).

              1. I went to Heaven's Dog a few weeks ago for lunch and had some stir-fried noodles that the bartender recommended, they hit the spot but weren't particularly memorable.

                Went back the other night and had the pork belly in clamshell buns. This is a variation on my longtime favorite dish from Ton Kiang's dinner menu, which they call "Steamed Bacon with Dried Mustard Greens." Three little sandwiches, each with a slice of belly, a little shredded scallion, no mustard greens. Really a great snack and a much more reasonable portion than the usual. I think it's also smart to serve it that way so that the squeamish don't realize how much pork fat they're eating--Ton Kiang's dish has scared some of the people I've had it with.

                I also had a Last Word cocktail (1 oz. each gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino, and lime juice), which the bartender, Jackie Patterson, told me about when she was at Orson. I'd tried making it and wasn't entirely satisfied, her version seemed perfect. I think it was a combination of her superior shaking skills and the Luxardo maraschino (I used Maraska). Great drink but quite strong (Chartreuse is 110 proof).