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Mar 3, 2010 09:08 AM

Hi-Tea in SF FiDi

This place is on Bush/Battery. It looks packed, but has that bad ventilation smell of oil or something, etc. that permeates the restaurant and promises to stay on your clothes. I haven't been able to bring myself to go in, but the menu looks very tempting - pho, rice plates, etc. Has anyone tried it?

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  1. No, but I will -- maybe just for takeout. There's a shortage of pho places in the FiDi, especially close enough to my office (that is, not too far to walk on a rainy day, which is when I always want pho).

    1. I ordered their vermicelli noodles and some egg rolls, but wasn't too impressed. Just wish there were better vietnamese options in the FiDi, but alas you need to go near the Civic Center/Tenderloin for good Vietnamese

      1 Reply
      1. re: jlfoodie

        If you're willing to trek a little to Chinatown, I really like the Vietnamese food at Golden Star Vietnamese Restaurant. Good pho and even more excellent rice plates.

        Or if you don't want to go that far, Sai's is also popular, but I don't really care for it.

      2. I had the vermicelli with grilled pork and egg (or maybe it was spring) rolls the other day, was just ok. Seemed to catch them in a rare lull around 1:30 because I was in and out in a flash. The prices are great - think it was $6.83 inc. tax for plenty of food. The bad: rolls were... decrepit, like they had been sitting around for years, very weird texture with little flavor. The good: the rest of it tasted really fresh, pork was tasty enough. Fish sauce had a kind of off taste. Overall: I haven't had many bun dishes to compare, but this was lackluster, felt like it was missing something, but I will definitely be back to check out the pho.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Annie S.

          Don't bother.

          I made a special request and asked them for pho with shredded chicken and pork, trying to recreate my favourite at Turtle Tower.

          The chicken was good, but the broth had a weird metallic aftertaste and the pork was terrible and beyond chewy.

          And I could not agree more about the weird smell. I don’t plan to return, ever. I will continue to phone in my order at Turtle Tower. :)

        2. Hi-Tea doesn't sound too promising, but it's strangely packed. A testimony to the lack of vietnamese food in the area I suppose. Thanks for the tip re: Golden Star - it's reasonable walking distance so I will need to try that. Perilla South of Market is also very good, but I think they're often packed at lunch also.

          1. Don't bother. I've eaten here twice (both take out). I've ordered their seafood baked rice dish. It was not as good as ABC's. The gravy was kind of "off." I've also ordered a sandwich that had surprisingly very old garnishes (wilted lettuce).

            I don't plan on coming back. For a point of reference, the owner also owns the 77 Hawaiian BBQ and he was the former owner of Happy Donuts right around the corner.

            9 Replies
            1. re: asianstamp

              That's disappointing. I've been pleased with the offerings at the Happy Donuts around the corner though. Thanks for the input - I'll trek up into Chinatown instead.

              Happy Donut
              100 Bush St # 101, San Francisco, CA

              1. re: Pandora

                Which places do you go for Pho in Chinatown ?

                1. re: osho

                  There's the reference to Golden Star in Keesey's post above. I haven't tried it, but definitely on my list. I go pretty often to the donut place on Kearny (Latte express?) for banh mi and if I want something warm, to Hun's Won Ton on Kearny. Not exactly the same as pho, but similar comfort food I guess.

                  Golden Star Cafe
                  1400 MacDonald Ave, Richmond, CA 94801

                  1. re: osho

                    I like Golden Flower, on the block of Jackson with Z&Y, Great Eastern, and Bund. Also for bun.

                    Great Eastern Restaurant
                    649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    1. re: david kaplan

                      I eat at Golden Star quite often for lunch. I think it is the best in the vicinity. The one in the Embarcadero is slooooow to serve you so its out for lunch. There is also one located near Golden Star (at the top of Portsmouth Garage - Left Hand corner looking up from Kearny) that is a step down but still okay. I second the vote for Latte Express Banh Mi - good and a lot closer than the tenderloin or Paris on Stockton.

                      Won Ton soup at Garden Chinese Restaurant is not bad at all..... (on Kearny right next door to the Hilton).

                      1. re: myst

                        The only thing worth ordering from Hi-Tea (and that is if you must go there) is the grilled five spice chicken over rice. Had it a couple of times and thought it was fine - meat was tender, flavor was good, rice was soft and fragrant. Then again, most Vietnamese (or Vietnamese-Chinese) can make this dish half-asleep so it's not a surprise that it tastes okay.

                        I would definitely stay away from stuff like pho and noodle soup as well as any HK-inspired dishes like the baked seafood or pork chop fried rice. Those dishes actually take a good amount of skill and technique to make, and this place isn't about to invest the time and energy even if they knew how to do it.

                      2. re: david kaplan

                        Mr Kaplan, what do you recommend at Golden Flower ?

                      3. re: osho

                        I wanted to add that there's a place on second and mission or so- really just a small stand - called Muffin Muffin I think. They had a sign up for pho. Anyone been?

                        Also, Perilla on mission is very good. I heard they do takout also, but it's just a litle too far for me at lunch time.

                        510 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                        1. re: Pandora

                          I concur with all of the above. I'm a pho addict and Golden Star runs circles around Hi-Tea. I work right next door to H-Tea but will still walk the extra 15 minutes to get to Golden Star. Totally different league. Even Pho Tan Hua in the Embarcadero is better than Hi-Tea and that places is fairly whacktastic. Tough to understand why Hi-Tea is so packed day in and day out.