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c
Clicquot Jan 3, 2011 09:33 AM

We will be in SF for 2 nights at the end of Jan. Which would you suggest for Vietnamese, Le Colonial or Slanted Door? We are also open to a high end Chinese. Do you have a good suggestion for Dim Sum at lunch?

We also need a great place for a Birthday dinner the next night and were thinking of La Folie or Gary Danko. I cannot stand truffles and La Folie seems to rely heavily on them. Is there any other good place we should try?

We're from New Orleans and go to Napa/Sonoma, but have by-passed SF for about they last 10 years or so. We will be staying around Union Square.

Thank you very much,

Clicquot

-----
Slanted Door
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

La Folie
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

Gary Danko
800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

  1. v
    vulber Jan 3, 2011 09:51 AM

    the first page on la folie's menu website is the tasting menu, but if you scroll down, they have a bunch of different options for each course that don't rely on truffles.

    by end chinese, do you mean banquet style?

    it's not trendy or fusion-y or anything, but i much prefer Pagolac to Slanted Door for Vietnamese

    -----
    Slanted Door
    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Pagolac
    655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    3 Replies
    1. re: vulber
      c
      Clicquot Jan 3, 2011 09:56 AM

      Sorry for the typo, I meant high-end Chinese.

      1. re: Clicquot
        bbulkow Jan 3, 2011 11:50 AM

        Search Jai Yun where, for Chinese, you'll get a more personalized experience, but the mainstream SF response is Yank Sing. The more high-end Chinese recommendations are actually south of SF and are much more easily reached via car - and depend greatly on which Chinese cuisine you prefer.

        Just about every opinion of "La Folie vs Gary Danko" has come down *heavily* on the side of La Folie. Remember, for the tasting menu, you can simply call ahead and say no truffles - or no pork - or wheat - or whatever. Truffles are in season (toward the end of season) and much beloved in french cuisine, but part of the point of a tasting menu is some personalization. And, as pointed out, tasting menu isn't the only way to go.

        I do find it too bad that you aren't asking for recommendations for the more california style, which is represented by places like Benu, Ame, COI, Saison, Commis (on the highest end) and upper-mid places like Commonweath, Wayfare, NOPA, Delfina, Plum, Prospect, Bar Agricole. While by all accounts La Folie is an amazing restaurants, I always like visitors who really enjoy food to have at least one meal that's more specific to SF. - and vibrant, new places are a large part.

        Slanted Door is more specific to SF, although now an old standard, and a view restaurant with very tolerable food, so always a strong recommendation for visitors with limited time and unlimited money. For someone who wants more authentic food at a lower price in more modest surroundings, places like Pagolac are perfect. But I doubt Pagolac has great mixed drinks or wonderful presspots of blue bottle coffee - they probably have those great little vietnamese coffee things into condensed milk, which is just a different experience.

        -----
        Slanted Door
        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

        Coi
        373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

        Jai Yun
        680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        La Folie
        2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

        Delfina Restaurant
        3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        Gary Danko
        800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        Yank Sing
        49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

        Commis
        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

        Saison
        2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

        Benu
        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. re: bbulkow
          v
          vulber Jan 3, 2011 12:44 PM

          la folie seems to have more of a california sensibility than most other french restaurants i know of

    2. s
      sfbing Jan 3, 2011 10:47 AM

      Since you seem to be focused on the high end side of things, I would suggest Slanted Door over Le Colonial. If money is no object and you want to stay in SF, Yank Sing is fine for dim sum.

      -----
      Slanted Door
      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

      Yank Sing
      49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

      3 Replies
      1. re: sfbing
        steve h. Jan 3, 2011 01:23 PM

        Yank Sing is not a "money is no object" destination. Been going there for years (Rincon Center). It's a pleasant destination that seldom lets me down. A couple can easily walk out for under $70. Lots less if they don't drink. Do arrive early (11-11:30 a.m.).

        Deb and I ate there twice in a week just before Christmas. The soup dumplings are pretty good. Service is pleasant. Cheap? No. Worth it? Yes.

        1. re: steve h.
          s
          sfbing Jan 3, 2011 02:09 PM

          The dim sum at yank sing is decent (and pretty much the only place you can take a vegetarian), but as someone who eats at a lot of dim sum places, it is very expensive. Dim sum for two for $70 is a "money is no object place" for dim sum in my book. And you can very easily end up spending more if you are not careful.

          1. re: steve h.
            v
            vulber Jan 3, 2011 08:02 PM

            agreed, $70 is a lot for dim sum!!!

        2. erikschwarz Jan 3, 2011 01:56 PM

          I am a New Orleanian who visits San Francisco regularly. I endorse steve h's and sfbing's recommendations of Yank Sing. You will find fierce debates on other SF boards where critics of and partisans for YS go at each other, but the bottom line is that the dim sum there is far better than we can get in NO.

          Yank Sing is not a budget-buster, but it takes some flak for being more expensive than most other SF dim sum purveyors. If you are up for a funky hole in the wall with good food - sort of like the Domilise's of dim sum - try Good Luck. Koi Palace is also highly regarded, but you likely do not want to schlep to Daly City.

          I also endorse bbulkow's suggestion to include an SF-specific restaurant. Here is my candidate: Tadich Grill, a classic dating back to 1849. The sand dabs are great as are several of the other seafood dishes. And if you get a hankering - Swan Oyster Depot, a Polk Street old-timer with a superb raw bar. Both Tadich and Swan have loads of character - and characters.

          -----
          Koi Palace Restaurant
          365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

          Tadich Grill
          240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
          101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

          Swan Oyster Depot
          1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Good Luck Dim Sum
          736 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

           
          5 Replies
          1. re: erikschwarz
            erikschwarz Jan 3, 2011 02:35 PM

            P.S. While I would never discourage dining at Vietnamese restaurants - their cuisine is one of my favorites - we are blessed with a number of good ones in New Orleans. As opposed to Chinese restaurants, of which NO has no real standouts IMHO.

            1. re: erikschwarz
              bbulkow Jan 3, 2011 04:10 PM

              Erik, thanks for the kind words, but I actually don't consider the Tadich Grill in the category I was speaking of. It sure is a san francisco original, but it's pure Barbary coast san francisco. Again, all well and good, but san francisco's vibrant current restaurant scene - daily menus, local everything, slavish adherence to terroir, a post-fusion interest in comfort food - is worth checking out. Thus my list of restaurants, most of which are only a few years old, would not include Tadich. I would see how Tadich would be near and dear to a new orleanian heart though - it's pure tradition with great food! It's hard with so few meals to try to capture a city - maybe small plates at Gitane and dinner at Tadich? They're a 10 min walk apart. Or maybe Tadich to COI lounge, that would be a fun past-to-present pairing.

              When eating fish in SF, the key question is line-caught-wild-where? If the waiter can't tell you, it's probably not worth eating. Tadich will tell you where the sand dabs come from.

              My current favorite of the new crop is Plum, a small edgy place in oakland with some great flavors in a relaxed environment, but you can find this sensibility all over town - like the pork belly doughnuts at Sycamore, an ugly little hole-in-the-wall on Mission St.

              -----
              Tadich Grill
              240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

              Gitane Restaurant & Bar
              6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

              1. re: bbulkow
                erikschwarz Jan 3, 2011 07:58 PM

                Thank you for appreciating my appreciation of Tadich. I shall have to try some of your '"california style" picks on my next trip to SF. The only ones with which I am familiar are Commonwealth and Commis.

                As for the characteristics you outline - local sourcing, adherence to terroir, comfort food - these have been hallmarks of South Louisiana foodways since forever and continue strong. My partner eats pretty much only Creole tomatoes - grown in the alluvial soil of certain river parishes. And some locals know the Gulf oysterbeds by number designation and can discourse knowledgeably about recent history and prevailing conditions in each. There is nothing new and trendy about this, nor is it class-based. South Louisianans both rich and poor, urban and rural, black, white, Creole and otherwise share these foodways and have done so for many generations.

                I guess everything old is new again!

                 
                1. re: erikschwarz
                  bbulkow Jan 3, 2011 08:53 PM

                  No one would sensibly argue that New Orleans doesn't have an exceptional food culture!

                  What I enjoy about our food here is the combination of deep ingredient understanding and interest in innovation. A great example would be a tasting menu I had at Ubuntu in Napa a few years ago, which featured the beet berries which they had grown in their back garden, and I hadn't heard of until that day. There's just a lot of innovation, the down-side of which is trends which whipsaw the restaurants. It seemed like everyone had beignets on the desert menu for a few years - fine for the first 6 months, even though they were poor shadows of a proper beignet. Right now it seems all about the sous vide farm fresh egg, a trend I like, and the unfortunate slider trend, which has its occasional good points but only rarely so.

                  -----
                  Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                  1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                  1. re: bbulkow
                    erikschwarz Jan 3, 2011 09:19 PM

                    Oh no, another entry on my hit list - Ubuntu! Though I rarely get to Napa.

                    Speaking of ingredients, I do envy the profusion of great produce available to you. Our markets offer some great fruit and veg, but we do not have your great variety.

                    As for innovation, New Orleans has it aplenty, though it tends to be driven by idiosyncratic cooks and restaurants rather than by trends.

                    The slider trend has reached us, however, and John Besh now makes them. I think their best use is as a plot point in "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle."

                    I cannot see sous vide cookery catching on here - just too sterile and scientific. Exploring bold new frontiers in frying is more our style.

                    And let no one mess with the beignet!

                     
            2. b
              budnball Jan 3, 2011 02:50 PM

              I think of the Slanted Door as more of a drink and nosh place. And I would go against the grain and go with Gary Danko. My impression after dining at La folie last year was it felt dated. And the Lobster and pig trotter dish is a crime against shellfish!

              -----
              Slanted Door
              Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

              Gary Danko
              800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              1. n
                nusantra Jan 3, 2011 04:31 PM

                Definitely Slanted Door. They serve Charles Phan's modern and personal take on Vietnamese food. Don't know why Le Colonial is still around... If you're trying to save up, try small and family-run Pagolac in Little Saigon area. The area's a bit sketchy but the food is yummy.

                A higher-end authentic Chinese I find amazing is R&G Lounge. This is the kind of menu that's typically served in Asia (I grew up in Singapore). Best to go in a bigger group so you can share family style as you can get to try more options like steamed whole fish or chili crab. My husband and I always go there for our Christmas dinner. ;)

                Yank Sing is a good standby for dim sum. They have a wide variety and good service. Ton Kiang is another bet although farther away from Union Sq. Other dim sum restaurants may be less expensive but may run the risk of serving you greasy food.

                Both La Folie and Gary Danko are excellent. It just boils down to who's menu strikes your fancy. Although I would agree with bbulkow to highly suggest Benu. Its newer and more California. We went there 4 days ago and it was phenomenal.

                Good luck and hope you enjoy your trip here.

                -----
                Slanted Door
                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                La Folie
                2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                Pagolac
                655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                Gary Danko
                800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                Yank Sing
                49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                Ton Kiang
                5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                Benu
                22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                1. Robert Lauriston Jan 4, 2011 08:22 AM

                  Note that Yank Sing serves only dim sum and only at lunch. It's the most expensive dim sum around but so far as I've found also the best (Koi Palace didn't impress me a whole lot). I stick to the traditional items and avoid specials such as Peking duck, usually costs around $20 a head.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/429279
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/584326#5457265
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6190...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    vincentlo Jan 5, 2011 01:11 AM

                    If you think about this, just focusing on the quality of the dim sum, not on price, decor, service, availability of tables, cleanliness of the bathrooms, or access to a full bar, Yank Sing is indeed the best dim sum restaurant with SF proper. And this is just sad. :-( That's also partly why it can charge that much.

                    1. re: vincentlo
                      Robert Lauriston Jan 5, 2011 07:44 AM

                      Huh, the Spear St. branch has a full bar? Never knew that.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        vincentlo Jan 5, 2011 11:38 PM

                        I only went to the Spear St branch once--a bit cramped for me. I almost always head to the Rincon Center one.

                        1. re: vincentlo
                          Robert Lauriston Jan 6, 2011 07:55 AM

                          Spear St. is Rincon Center. The smaller one is Stevenson St., which is beer and wine only.

                      2. re: vincentlo
                        s
                        sfbing Jan 5, 2011 10:13 AM

                        What Yank Sing make is generally well made, but the selection is kind of boring. I prefer Hong Kong Lounge, although the wait there is pretty bad, lately.

                        -----
                        Yank Sing
                        49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                        Hong Kong Lounge
                        5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

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