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Sep 2, 2012 05:06 PM

Chinese/Vietnamese dinner in SF?

My wife and I will be in San Francisco for one night in October and we'd like to have dinner at an either a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant in downtown SF (open to other Asian too). We will be staying near Union Square but anything centrally located is fine. It's been many years since we have been to the area so our knowledge is quite dated (think Slanted Door). We'd love recommendations - especially of places that take reservations - for a place worthy of a wedding anniversary dinner.

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  1. You probably haven't gotten any replies on this...because actually, there are almost none. Jai Yun (search and see the thread here discussing them) is more in Jackson Sq./Chinatown than Union Square, sometimes great food but you don't get a choice of what to eat. There are no nice Vietnamese places at all in the entire downtown save for Le Colonial, which got rightly panned by our local food critic two weeks ago. Slanted Door is probably your best bet for a wedding anniversary Vietnamese dinner.

    The only other truly upscale Asian place is Tommy Toy's at 655 Montgomery @Washington (close to Jai Yun, actually). It is Chinese with European service and several French touches to the menu. We've never been there; we moved out of the city twenty years ago, but Toy was formerly the maitre d'/general mgr at the Imperial Palace in Chinatown, where my family would go once a year for their Chinese banquet food, which was far and away the best in town. Their regular food, oddly, was awful - tourist crap. But if you opened your wallet, by God that chef could cook the most exquisite food!

    IP is no longer a great restaurant (original owners sold out) but during the 1970's & '80's when Toy managed the front, it was amazing. Whether his own place is as good...that I don't know.
    If you were going non-Asian, you'd have a lot wider and better choice for a special occasion dinner.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jaiko

      thanks, jaiko. really excellent suggestions - appreciate your help.

      1. re: jaiko

        The only reason to go to Tommy Toy's is to see pictures of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Clint Eastwood, the first George Bush, Gerald Ford and other celebrities who have dined there. Foodwise you'd be better off at Jai Yun (which has zero atmosphere) or R&G Lounge. I should also mention (ugh!) Empress of China on Grant Ave. Expensive but undistinguished food, and the first George Bush ate there, too. But if you get a table by the window you get this great panoramic view of San Francisco.

      2. Asian for an anniversary celebration, maybe look at Ame.

        1. Jai Yun. After hearing and reading about this for a few years, this review and thread has it at the top of my list for our next visit. Sounds amazing and the CHs who reviewed it are no slouches in the dining world :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: c oliver

            The food at Jai Yun is excellent but the atmosphere isn't very celebratory.

            It's kind of weird that SF doesn't currently have an upscale Chinese restaurant with great food and atmosphere.

          2. for Vietnamese i would recomend Bodega Bistro. Just a short Taxi ride or an exciting walk from Union Square.

            1. Not Vietnamese or Chinese, but you might want to consider KEIKO à Nob Hill, a very good upscale Japanese French style place.