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Bodega Bistro recommendations?

SteveTimko Aug 15, 2010 02:05 AM

I've made reservations for a group of five.
I've reviewed Chowhound recommendations for Bodega Bistro. It looks like people like the squab, shaking beef and papaya salad. Any must gets? Anything that needs to be ordered in advance? I'm thinking of a Chinese restaurant that once made us a great tea-smoked duck that was started a couple of days before the meal.
Is it too early to eat crab ? Any seafood dishes or fish dishes with no bones people recommend?

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Bodega Bistro
607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

  1. v
    vulber Oct 17, 2011 11:04 PM

    went here tonight and really enjoyed the bo luc lac (shaking beef) - and at $14.50, definitely a bargain (you can tell they are using high quality meat); i find it hard to believe that people would pay $36 for almost the same dish at the slanted door. actually i take that back; i don't find it hard to believe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vulber
      mariacarmen Oct 21, 2011 04:22 PM

      oh yeah, i too love their bo luc lac. haven't had that in awhile...

    2. c
      charliemyboy Mar 31, 2011 01:28 PM

      Having eagerly anticipated a return to Kim Thanh for weeks, I was deeply disappointed to see the sign on the door saying they were closed for a few weeks. Fortunately pilinut pulled some good alternatives out of her head faster than we could consult our smartphones and we headed off for Bodega Bistro.

      Our papaya salad (nom) came with very thin strands of papaya and was swimming in a pool of sauce. The beef jerky and sauce added a lot to the flavor and I liked the novelty of crunching on the hair-thin papaya.

      A first for me was the ban xeo, a pancake stuffed with shrimp, pork and soy sprouts and served with herbs and lettuce that can be used as a wrap. My first two bites didn’t impress, then I added more sauce and got down to the part with the herbs and understood why everyone else was nodding approvingly. Tasting a perilla leaf separately convinced me that this was a big part of the flavor, but lots of sauce was also key.

      We had the filet mignon shaking beef. Again the sauce on the side was the key to this dish—the bright lemon and pepper flavors made the difference between an ordinary dish and one that stood out.

      The salt and pepper crab ($35) was excellent, maybe even better than my prior best crab of the season, at Kim Thanh. The pepper definitely makes this dish sing. We were given extra napkins but I missed the finger bowls with tea and lemon that we got at Kim Thanh. It was great to get crab of this quality so late in the season.

      The only miss of the meal was the garlic noodles, which were lacking in flavor and texture.

      All in all, it was a very satisfying substitute for Kim Thanh, though except for the outstanding crab none of the dishes did quite as much for me as Kim Thanh’s frog and charbroiled pork. At $22 per person for four people we got good value.

      -----
      Bodega Bistro
      607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Kim Thanh
      607 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      2 Replies
      1. re: charliemyboy
        mariacarmen Mar 31, 2011 03:19 PM

        I'm surprised about the noodles - I remember them being overwhelmingly garlicky the last time I went (although that was about 2 years ago.) Now I'm eager to try Kim Thanh!

        -----
        Kim Thanh
        607 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        1. re: charliemyboy
          a
          artemis Mar 31, 2011 03:47 PM

          I ate at BB pretty recently too. I really enjoyed the ban xeo, but you're right charliemyboy - each bite needs to have a bit of all the components, including the herbs. We also ordered the bun cha handi (lettuce wraps with marinated pork) - they were their most delicious when dripping with sauce and stuffed with fresh herbs. In contrast, I wasn't as much of a fan of the giant prawns and garlic noodles - the prawns were a little overcooked and so were a touch tough. The garlic noodles were oily, thin, not super fresh tasting, and the garlic taste was a little harsh. I would rather have more ban xeo or ban cha handi.

        2. mariacarmen Aug 16, 2010 10:04 PM

          our faves are shaking beef, the papaya salad, the banh xeo.... and their garlic noodles are very assertive! we liked the crab too.

          1. Robert Lauriston Aug 16, 2010 05:02 PM

            I think you used to have to give them 24 hours notice for the bouillabaisse, which is why I've never tried it. Whether that's still true I don't know.

            1. y
              youngsf Aug 16, 2010 10:49 AM

              I ordered their crab once. It wasn't good (too heavy in sauce) so I wouldn't recommend it.

              Better to order Nem Cua, egg roll like with crab meat. Bun Cha is good too.

              Definitely order papaya salad and squab.

              1. c
                cakebaker Aug 15, 2010 05:10 PM

                Shaking beef at BD remains the best to me. However, they recently changed their cooking oil from peanut to canola and have been having problems getting the temp right. I mention this if you ordered Imperial rolls for instance which have always been excellent..check with the mgr re: this before ordering. I have never had a bad dish at BD except recently which is due to the oil problem so check beforehand.

                12 Replies
                1. re: cakebaker
                  escargot3 Aug 16, 2010 12:08 AM

                  Do you know why they switched from peanut oil to canola oil?

                  1. re: escargot3
                    c
                    cakebaker Aug 16, 2010 10:45 AM

                    Apparently they had numerous requests due to nut allergies and wanted to find a neutral oil.

                    1. re: cakebaker
                      Paul H Aug 16, 2010 02:19 PM

                      Refined peanut oil will not trigger a peanut allergy. However, any restaurant that uses unrefined peanut oil is playing with fire. http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthissue...

                      1. re: cakebaker
                        Melanie Wong Aug 16, 2010 04:37 PM

                        That's a shame since the majority of folks who claim to have peanut allergy really don't. Also, as Paul points out, refined peanut oil, which is what's suitable for cooking/frying, isn't a problem for those who have peanut allergy.

                        I'd heard from friends who have hosted wine dinners regularly at Bodega Bistro over the years that they felt the last couple excursions were not as good as before. They had asked me if the chef is distracted by his new place, Jimmie, and also whether he really was still cooking at BB. If anyone has an opinion about this, please chime in.

                        Or the shift in cooking oil could explain a lot too.

                        Some Chinese restaurants have changed to using rice bran oil. It tastes better than canola oil.

                        -----
                        Bodega Bistro
                        607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          susancinsf Aug 16, 2010 04:45 PM

                          I thought the dinner hubby and I had there with Windy about a month ago was as good as my last one, (perhaps a year or so ago?), with the exception of the crepe, which was not as good as I remembered (though I always did prefer the crepe at Lotus Garden to any other version, though that could just be a question of neighborhood loyalty.) I suppose the oil could account for the difference (?), though I don't think I've eaten at BB often enough to be a particularly good judge.

                          -----
                          Lotus Garden
                          3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            c
                            cakebaker Aug 16, 2010 05:54 PM

                            Interesting...come to think of it this is the first time I didn't see Jimmie there. I didn't know he had a new place. I know I have never had a bad imperial roll there and the last time as I mentioned the oil was running out of them. I didn't know enough about nut allergies to speak to the oil issue when the mgr mentioned it but he said he thought they were going back to peanut oil since they've had so much trouble regulating the heat with canola. I'll mention the rice bran oil when I'm there next.

                            1. re: cakebaker
                              Melanie Wong Aug 16, 2010 06:04 PM

                              Well, actually, I'm hoping they stick with peanut oil!

                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                escargot3 Aug 17, 2010 11:09 AM

                                Melanie,
                                why do you hope they go back to peanut oil? cause of taste? authenticity?

                                1. re: escargot3
                                  Melanie Wong Aug 17, 2010 08:13 PM

                                  Taste and texture.

                                2. re: Melanie Wong
                                  c
                                  cakebaker Aug 17, 2010 01:22 PM

                                  I agree, I'll find out what they decided next week.

                              2. re: Melanie Wong
                                p
                                peanutallergy Oct 24, 2011 03:25 PM

                                As a person who unfortunately has a severe peanut allergy, and who has enjoyed reading Melanie’s posts and respects her opinions and food recommendations, I was disappointed by this post. Although I realize my comment may need to be moved to a general forum, I hope it will be allowed to remain here in this thread, as it addresses what I feel is an important issue to clarify.

                                Although I respect people’s opinions that they may like the taste of peanut oil over alternatives, and I wish I did not have to worry about my own allergy, please refrain from commenting on topics about which you may have no medical knowledge or personal experience.

                                Most people who are allergic to peanuts are extremely allergic, even by touch and to the minute particles in the air from peanut products in the vicinity, and will suffer anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening. I am in this camp, and I don’t know anyone who would lie about this. Even refined peanut oil can contain residual peanut proteins that are a cause for serious concern for those with a peanut allergy; I would not take the risk, and my doctor recommends against it. It is already a calculated risk that I take when I dine in a restaurant that uses peanuts or peanut oil in some dishes, even though I of course stick to the peanut-free dishes. I greatly appreciate those restaurants that have switched away from peanut oil due to concerns about allergies of their patrons (in the Bay Area, these include Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City and Sea Salt in Berkeley, both of which I have personal experience with, both before and after they made the switch away from peanut oil). I’m happy to hear Bodega Bistro has as well, and I hope it continues not to use peanut oil.

                                I have eaten at Bodega Bistro a few times (the last time was about a year ago), and have stuck to the pho as a safe peanut-free dish – it’s not the best pho around, but decent enough of a meal to allow my dining companions to enjoy other dishes.

                                -----
                                Old Port Lobster Shack
                                851 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063

                                Bodega Bistro
                                607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                Sea Salt
                                2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                1. re: peanutallergy
                                  The Chowhound Team Oct 25, 2011 07:04 AM

                                  We want to remind everyone that this board isn't the right place to debate the facts and myths of peanut allergies, so we'd please start a new thread on NAF if you'd like to continue along those lines. Please feel free to continue discussion here about Bodega Bistro, or about restaurants locally that don't use peanut oil. Thanks!

                                  -----
                                  Bodega Bistro
                                  607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        2. jillyju Aug 15, 2010 05:01 PM

                          I don't seem to be able to access their homepage, so I can't remember proper names of dishes. But they have a bun dish (fresh noodles) with fish that has been grilled with dill that I really like a lot. It is served with lots of fresh herbs (basil, etc) and you make your own wraps with lettuce, noodles, fish, and herbs. I recommend that dish and/or the bun cha hanoi, which is a similar dish but with pork. Getting both dishes can seem a little repetitive to some, but both are quite good.

                          Other dishes on the menu that I like include the squab appetizer and the banh xeo, a sort of savory pancake with shrimp, sprouts, and pork that I think they do well.

                          I am not aware of any dishes that need to be ordered in advance. As for crab, it is too early for crab if you are hoping for the crab to be from local waters. However dungeness crab is still delicious when caught in Washington State, so if you are in the mood for that I personally would still order it. I'm sure there are those on this board who would argue otherwise, but to me it's more a matter of how well a restaurant is likely to handle the prep. I always prefer local, but I'll never turn away a dungeness if well cooked.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: jillyju
                            Windy Aug 15, 2010 08:40 PM

                            The fish with rice noodles and dill is cha ca. It is very good.

                            Don't miss the papaya salad with homemade beef jerky.

                            I'm not aware of any special order dishes.

                            1. re: Windy
                              jillyju Aug 15, 2010 09:39 PM

                              Thanks Windy. My memory will probably quit entirely within the year, at this pace.

                              1. re: jillyju
                                Windy Aug 15, 2010 10:14 PM

                                I hear Vietnamese food is good for memory enhancement. (It can't hurt.)

                                1. re: Windy
                                  jillyju Aug 16, 2010 10:36 PM

                                  Ha! I'm happy to have any opportunity to rationalize eating more Vietnamese food, so thanks for the encouragement!

                              2. re: Windy
                                Ruth Lafler Aug 16, 2010 01:19 PM

                                Oh yeah, the papaya salad with the jerky is a must.

                                Note that the squab is served (properly) cut up but with both the head and the feet (just in case some of your group would be squicked out by that).

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  SteveTimko Aug 17, 2010 08:04 AM

                                  Yeah, that Yimster can be such a sissy some times. ;-)

                                  1. re: SteveTimko
                                    SteveTimko Aug 22, 2010 11:17 PM

                                    Yimster ended up eating the brain. The squab was delicious. So was the entire meal. I'll write something when I have a moment.

                                     
                            2. Civil Bear Aug 15, 2010 11:00 AM

                              The Tiger prawn dish is pretty good. Stay away from the Pho. The overall menu is relatively small.

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