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Vietnamese Restaurant Recommendation

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svans Jul 21, 2010 12:52 PM

Going to be in San Fran for one night in August and as there is a large Vietnamese population there, and my hometown of NYC is somewhat lacking in my favorite cuisine, thought I'd see what the best places in San Fran were. Recommendations are appreciated...we are staying in the Mission but are happy to travel wherever necessary for deliciousness. Price doesn't matter, although I find expensive Vietnamese/fusion to be somewhat lame. Thanks!

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  1. Civil Bear RE: svans Jul 21, 2010 01:23 PM

    THE most popular restaurant in San Francisco (by # of tables served) over the last couple of years is Slanted Door. It is Cal-Vietnamese fusion and it is pricey. For a bit less fusiony food at a more moderate price, you could try Bodego Bistro in the Tenderloin. PPQ Dungeness out in the Richmond is probably a bit more authentic and does an awesome black pepper crab over garlic noodles. If you just want Pho, their parent restaurant in the inner sunset does the best southern version, IMO. For Pho Ga, Turtle Tower in Little Saigon is the place to go.

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    Slanted Door
    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

    1. s
      sfbing RE: svans Jul 21, 2010 01:26 PM

      Most of the SF Vietnamese places are in the Tenderloin. I am not a fan of Sunflower in the Mission. If you don't like fish sauce, though, Sunflower is the place for you.

      My picks:

      Turtle Tower for Northern pho ga. Their menu has expanded slightly and they are now offering Goi Cuon (freshly made with grilled, not boiled pork) and Cha Ca (which I haven't tried).

      Bodega Bistro, which is excellent for dinner. Vietnamese with a French twist. Good squab. Not a fan of their pho.

      Pagolac for seven courses of beef. Beef is fresh. Salads are good. Their taro tapioca pudding is very good as well. Pho is a miss. Service is sweet but slow. Cleaner and more gentrified than...

      Anh Hong for 7 courses of beef and banh hoi platters. More Vietnamese people here and thus unstinting with their herbs and rice paper. Better if you go with four or more people.

      Quan Bac is a new place out in the Richmond. Unusual menu.

      My favorite place in SF for Southern Pho is currently Hai Nam Ninh. Excruciatingly slow with erratic hours. Must be patient, as they make your bowl to order. Which you can tell because the broth is dark and clear and very HOT. Not too much spice, nor MSG to obscure skimpy meat in the broth making process. The stewed beef bits are tender and flavorful with a lot of intriguing connective tissue(essential). They provide culantro as well as a homemade garlic hot sauce. If you ask for raw beef on the side (which you should, because their broth is so hot), it comes with an additional steaming hot bowl of broth you can cook it in, in case you don't want to make your noodle soup murky. Warning: they make their Cha Gio with eggroll wrappers.

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      Bodega Bistro
      607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Pagolac
      655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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

      Quan Bac
      4112 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

      3 Replies
      1. re: sfbing
        Melanie Wong RE: sfbing Jul 21, 2010 07:34 PM

        Anything else that you recommend at Ha Nam Ninh? I've been to that address under the previous two owners, but have yet to try it in the current incarnation.

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        Ha Nam Ninh
        337 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          s
          sfbing RE: Melanie Wong Jul 21, 2010 08:30 PM

          At HNN, it has been hard to drag myself away from the pho. I had a craving and sampled about 10 mediocre bowls in SF before I stumbled on this place recently.

          The only other thing I've managed to try are the bi cuon. The pork skin rolls had hand shredded pork skin I think (not the stuff that usually comes frozen and preshredded), which made it a bit too porky for me.

          The menu seems pretty basic. Most people get the pho, with the occasional rice plate. The cha gio seem popular as well, but I'm biased against the wrappers.

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            DezzerSF RE: Melanie Wong Jul 22, 2010 08:22 AM

            Ha Nam Ninh has a decent Bun Bo Hue, love their homemade hot sauce.

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            Ha Nam Ninh
            337 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        2. s
          saffrongold RE: svans Jul 21, 2010 02:58 PM

          I would add La Vie at Geary and 21st to the list. Lovely service and presentation. Had a variety of crab specials during the season.

          4 Replies
          1. re: saffrongold
            c
            Calvinist RE: saffrongold Jul 21, 2010 04:05 PM

            In the Mission Lotus Garden is the best. And the serve very good Pho (daytime only). They have a family connection to La Vie .

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            Lotus Garden
            3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. re: Calvinist
              d
              david de berkeley RE: Calvinist Jul 21, 2010 04:55 PM

              I've been here a few times and thought the food was unremarkable (especially the pho). What do you order here? Maybe time to check it out again.

              I agree that the pho at Sunflower is also ho hum, but the rest of their food is surprisingly good.

              I second PPQ for crab, Anh Hong for seven courses of beef, and Bodega Bistro for all purpose.

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              Bodega Bistro
              607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              1. re: david de berkeley
                susancinsf RE: david de berkeley Jul 21, 2010 07:43 PM

                IMO, pho is not the dish to order at Lotus Garden (and as noted, it isn't offered at dinner). My favorites are the crab (pick your own from their tank), the banh xeo and the lovely chicken soup. Lotus Garden would definitely be my recommendation in the Mission.

                Had an excellent meal at Bodega Bistro the other night (though I like the crepe at Lotus Garden better). However, I wonder if some of the offerings might be seen as 'fusiony'?

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                Lotus Garden
                3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Bodega Bistro
                607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                1. re: david de berkeley
                  Civil Bear RE: david de berkeley Jul 22, 2010 07:39 AM

                  Agree with your comments regarding Sunflower vs. Lotus Garden. I have been to LG a few times now based on CW reports and have yet to feel it was a good move - including the pricey crab.

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                  Lotus Garden Restaurant
                  1058 Shell Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404

            2. m
              ML8000 RE: svans Jul 21, 2010 05:16 PM

              2nd La Vie, it is good...but it's out in the Richmond, like PPQ.

              1. c
                chaseshadows RE: svans Jul 22, 2010 12:24 AM

                Though technically a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant...there are a lot of those, Lam Hoa Thuan on Irving is my favorite for both Chinese BBQ and for Vietnamese food!
                http://www.yelp.com/biz/lam-hoa-thuan...

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                Lam Hoa Thuan
                2337 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                1. d
                  debbie421 RE: svans May 11, 2011 08:48 AM

                  Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but which of these restaurants has the best bun?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: debbie421
                    Robert Lauriston RE: debbie421 May 11, 2011 08:53 AM

                    Bun topics: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                    1. re: debbie421
                      wolfe RE: debbie421 May 11, 2011 08:53 AM

                      Have you searched this board?
                      http://www.chow.com/search?query=Bun+...

                    2. m
                      MeredithR RE: svans May 11, 2011 10:37 PM

                      I second many of SFBing's choices - Pagolac being the best.

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                      Pagolac
                      655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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