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Jun 28, 2012 10:25 PM

Soup Junkie (SF FiDi)

Read a tip about this new hole in the wall on Market St (388, between Davis and Front). This article dismissed it as just another soup place in the FiDi, but the fact is that the neighborhood is pathetically lacking in good Chinese or Vietnamese noodle soups. Also: gourmet banh mi and Dynamo donuts. What's not to like?

I've never had one of the famous/infamous Dynamo donuts, so I stopped in this morning and out of the half-dozen varieties picked up a maple bacon apple and a caramel fleur de sel. They hit .500: the caramel was slightly more burnt than I felt was appealing and there was something in the donut itself that clashed with the caramel. Big thumbs up on the maple bacon, though (the apple was MIA), with a great balance of meaty umami, salt and sugar. What really made my morning was the guy walking past me who did a triple take when he saw my donuts, which were in a clear plastic box.

Will be back to try the lunch offering soon.

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  1. I liked the chicken bahn mi a lot. I've also tried the beef pho, which had good flavor but was a bit lukewarm.

    1. I had seen that piece as well and thought the author was tone-deaf to the lack of GOOD food, soup or otherwise in FiDi. How is the soup?

      5 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Haven't made it back in for the soup -- last time I went by at lunch there was a huge line! I dropped in this morning, and they've added Starter Kougin-Amman (plain and chocolate) to the pastry offerings. The plain one I bought was much better than my only other experience with K-A, so props for Starter Bakery!

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I think their plain and hazelnut are the best I've tried so far. Thanks for pointing out another source only 7 blks from our usual hotel!

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          I've been a few times now. Really liked the tofu vegetable banh mi. Tasty but healthy feeling. Yes it's a 6-7$ banh mi, but it is the FiDi. Wasn't as enamored of the chicken banh mi - but I did have them leave off the pate (I know, but I just can't embrace anything liver-y). Have only had the veggie soup - like that they serve the broth separately - and it had a really healthy feel to it. I'm going to use this as the "I feel like eating something healthy" lunch stop (if I can stay away from the Dynamo and baked treats that is).

          1. re: Celery

            Sounds good, what time do you usually go and how are the lines?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I think I've been there between 11:30-12:30 probably. There's always a line and a wait for food but I think the soup orders come out faster in my experience. But no worse a wait than some other takeout spots or trucks in the area - especially at noon.

              As for seating, there have been a couple of tables outside but they are usually surrounded by everyone waiting for their orders so can't imagine it's a good meeting lunch spot.

              The place is the size of a large closet and the order counter is just inside the door.

        3. Does Soup Junkie have seating? I meet my boss downtown once a week on New Montgomery, and that sounds like a great place to meet instead of the office. Sounds like my kind of place.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Atomica

            On Friday they had a few tables set up outside.

            1. re: absc

              It's been so prohibitively sunny in that spot during lunch time. I sat there twice and been blinded and toasted by the sun (once with and once without sunglasses). It doesn't really let up until 2:30. Not sure I'd recommend sitting there unless it's partialy overcast or you have a high tolerance to bright lights.

          2. I don't know, is anyone else a little lukewarm on the noodle soups? I had the beef pho and the bun rieu. I thought the beef pho broth was weak; my first thought was that the broth was from a mix, laden with MSG, but upon further reflection I think it's homemade. But that doesn't change the fact that the broth felt one-dimensional. The meat quality wasn't bad, and they use fresh rice noodles, which I love.

            The bun rieu was better; I haven't had my share of bun rieus so I don't have a good basis of comparison. There were three chunky egg patties in there which were delicious (maybe with crab? couldn't really tell, I ate them so quickly, they were so good, and plus it was so bright/sunny I wanted to eat and get outta there). Two small pork balls, split rau muong, and tomato chunks.

            It seems very different in style from Pho Hoa or Golden Star; sort of like the hipster/new Asian generation's version of pho? Also the portion was a little small compared to other places; it was plenty for me but maybe not for someone else.

            The pho will do in a pinch, but I'd much rather walk to Golden Star in Chinatown if I have the time. Between French Baguette and Soup Junkie, I am not sure which wins; may be at a tie. I do like the idea of supporting Soup Junkie though, because every other entrepreneur that's been in this little closet has failed!

            I have also had a chocolate kouign amann and a Dynamo donut (vanilla bean) there. Underwhelmed by the Dynamo donut, loved the K-A. They (the K-A, or even donuts) are not there all the time; neither Monday nor today did they have them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CeciliaL

              I concur. I also had the bun rieu and it was pretty good, but nothing wholly special. It was packaged in a small landfill's worth of plastic, and my nagging conscience may have had some influence on my tastebuds.

              1. re: jpancake

                I revise my initial evaluation of their bun rieu. Even though I wasn't blown away by the BR at first, I find myself coming back all the time (and haven't been back to French Baguette since I posted). The crab omelettes in the soup are really tasty, and the broth is pretty rich. You can taste and see bits of crab/crab shell in the broth (in a good way) and there's plenty of it in the omelette too (meat only of course). So Soup Junkie is definitely a keeper on my list for their BR. I saw sometimes they have beef stew.... this is one of my favorites (I love the one at Pho Saigon near Redwood City as well as the one at Golden Star) and am curious about it.

                I haven't tried the banh mi still.

                They no longer sell the kouign amann's, something about incompatibility of delivery schedules.

            2. Finally tried Soup Junkie today (for lunch that is -- I have stopped three times for the doughnuts, but really didn't like anything other than the blueberry cornmeal). I absolutely loved the Bun Rieu. I have no experience with this soup, but I find it addictive and delicious. The broth is rich, sweet and crabby. No as tomato-y as I have seen in photos, but definitely has that sweetness. The crab omelet is in three huge pieces. it looks like egg, but it tastes all crab. It is pricy ($9), but very filling and comforting.