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New Yorker visiting San Fran, I'd love some help!

I like anything and everything but my weakness is anything asian (mostly vietnamese and Korean). What are your suggestions?

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  1. You could try Slanted Door and its offspring (many on this board find it overrated but it may be good to go once)

    Namu Gaji in the Mission may be worth checking out.

    A lot of the vietnamese and korean spots are in the suburbs sadly.

    If you want to to go all all out - Benu

    3 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      Thank you! what do you recommend ordering at Benu?

      1. re: Katdragon

        Benu is only a la carte Tues Wed Thurs. I've only had the tasting menu and generally found the food very creative while still being satisfying - their wine/beer/sake program is excellent.

        1. re: Katdragon

          get the full monty. you are only going to go once. the beverage pairing is really inspired too. the som. there is as talented as the chef

      2. I would not get Korean food here if you are from New York. With the possible exception of Santa Clara, the Bay Area lags far behind New York (and upper New Jersey) in Korean food.

        But Namu Gaji might be a good choice for you, because it's not really Korean food. More like Korean-influenced food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dunstable

          i agree with dunstable. when i'm in NY I make a bee line for west 32nd street for some very great Korean food not to be found in the Bay Area.

        2. Fusebox in Oakland is worth the schlep.

          Do you have much Burmese in NY?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Seconding considering Burmese during your visit - we dont have much/any of it in NYC.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Check Fusebox days/hours and with unique location car a must.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                You don't need a car to go to Fusebox. The AC Transit NL transbay bus stops a block away.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Timewise, Fusebox is about the same distance from Union Square as Mandalay so it wouldn't be absurd to recommend it travel-wise.

                  neighborhoodwise though... they'd be fine for lunch, but I wouldn't send any tourist there on public transportation at night. Not the most fun place to wait for a bus for someone unfamiliar with the area. Take a look at google streetview between the NL stop and Fusebox. Hardly a post-card...

                  1. re: hyperbowler

                    It's an industrial neighborhood, dead quiet at all times I've been there. Take a cab after.

                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      I have not been to Fusebox but I have been to Sweet Maria's at 21st and Adeline (about two blocks away) via the NL bus in daytime. About the worst that can be said of the experience of getting there and back via public transit is that it's boring.

                2. look into jai yun (chinese) -- it is pretty unique.

                  1. pagolac (larkin and ellis i think) 6 courses of beef, cheap and very good and fun.
                    pho tran hoa (jones at ofarrell) is the best pho in the city in my opinion
                    saigon sandwich (larkin and eddy) is the best banh mi in the city, in my opinion.
                    these are all within walking distance of each other in the tenderloin. if you time your walk correctly you meander a bit, you probably can do all three. note, not the cleanest neighborhood, so, um, yeah.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: frontzNskrontz

                      Saigon Sandwich is great.

                      Bodega Bistro does a very good job with some standards.

                      I'm not sure there's any Vietnamese or Korean in SF that's as much of a standout as Lers Ros is for Thai, though. Could be disappointing for someone from NYC.

                      1. re: frontzNskrontz

                        Saigon Sandwich compares favourably to Banh Mi Saigon in NYC. My favourite of the two seems to be the one I ate last at.

                      2. What about Thai? Lers Ros has 2 locations - one in the Tenderloin (the orignal) and the more upscale trendier one Hayes street. An amazing menu.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sfdee

                          Reports on the Hayes St. location have not been as consistently good.

                        2. as others have noted, you might enjoy a little diversification with your regions of eastern Asia. Burmese, Lao/northern Thai options around here are worth trying.

                          1. As others have noted, the Bay Area can't match NYC for Korean, but if you really have a craving for home-style Korean try To Hyang on Geary in the inner Richmond.

                            Our offerings for Vietnamese are much more rewarding, though I'd pass on Slanted Door (dumbed down and over-priced, IMHO). Most of the good stuff is in the Tenderloin vicinity, and not just in the "Little Saigon" strip. Turtle Tower is definitely the pinnacle for northern-style pho, and Saigon Sandwich the consensus pick for banh mi. There are a number of good options for southern-style pho on Larkin St. (I like Sao Bien, for one). Ngoc Mai on Hyde St. specializes in Bun Bo Hue (the owners are from Hue) and the dry Hu Tieu Nam Vang at Ha Nam Ninh on Jones St. is one of the greatest noodle dishes around.

                            For Thai, both Lers Ros and House of Thai (both on Larkin St.) may make you forget Sripraphai, and I'm a big fan of the authentic boat noodles at Zen Yai Thai on Ellis St.

                            For Burmese you can't go wrong with Burmese Kitchen (also on Larkin St. in the Tenderloin).


                            7 Replies
                            1. re: soupçon

                              People have said Burmese Kitchen went downhill. Do you disagree? I haven't been in a few years, but I thought it was better than Mandalay or Burma Superstar. The only place I've been to that was as good and for some dishes better was Little Yangon.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                i visited burmese kitchen about a year ago and thought it was really excellent. much preferred it to mandalay and burma superstar.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Not that I've noticed. I usually dine solo, focus on noodle dishes (a la carte) these days and rarely repeat. Everything I've tried has been good. They do put out a lot of combo lunch specials, and it's possible they've gotten lazy with those.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    The problem I have with Little Yangoon is that it is rarely busy so I suspect the food sits around for long stretches. The hot dishes, including the soups, always come out room temperature with overdone noodles. I did have an excellent ginger salad there last night though. I would put the salads and curies at LY on par with Burmese Kitchen.

                                    1. re: Civil Bear

                                      Only been to Little Yangon once for lunch on a Saturday during this spring's vacation. It was full-on slammed (we got the last table). Everything tasted really fresh and there were a number of dishes that don't appear on the other Burmese menus I've tried in town. The pickled shrimp salad was a particular standout. I note that we did not sample any noodle dishes, however, and also that while I love Mandalay, we have had more than one dish with overcooked noodles. Can't recall re noodles at Burmese Kitchen which used to be our favourite but seemed to get dumbed down the last two visits going back a few years.

                                  2. re: soupçon

                                    Thank you!
                                    What Pho do you order? I usually stick to the boring stuff and would like to diversify.

                                    1. re: Katdragon

                                      I'll let locals weigh in, but turtle tower, soupcon's pick for "northern/ha noi style" pho is, in my mind, synonymous with pho ga (chicken). i dont think i have ever ordered pho ga anywhere else (the dish in general just feels like it should be about the beef) BUT i was introduced to turtle tower by a vietnamese friend, and she insisted we order the pho ga, and man, was she ever not wrong.

                                      (from experience,the menu and website - you wont get the usual plate of herbs and hoi sin sauce, because that is typical of southern styles. never fear, your soup will still be totally amazing - and miles ahead of anything NYC, especially manhattan, has to offer).

                                  3. I'll second Saigon Sandwich (nothing comes remotely close in NY), and Namu Gaji.

                                    NY is lacking in Burmese, but I wouldn't bother with any of SF's options. Once these places get popular, they slip. I'm usually happy with the tea salads, and find the rest mediocre.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      For someone who hasn't had the cuisine before, if you stick with the uniquely Burmese dishes such as mohinga, tea leaf salad, samosa soup, sour vegetables, and egg curry, even at the most mediocre place you'll have a tasty and exciting meal.

                                      Most Burmese places have Indian and Chinese dishes on the menu and if you order them you can get a pretty boring meal. It pays to do your research beforehand. Look at the menus online and read reports here about them.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        I think that's good advice, but I've also found the Burmese dishes themselves to be lackluster. It's been years since any of the top rated places turned out a meal I left wanting more of.

                                    2. B Star (like it better than it's sister Burma Star because they take reservations and you can actually get in without a wait). Also like Cafe Bunn Mi (actually more than Saigon Sandwich) because of the crispy duck and pork belly sandwiches. At B Star get their brussels sprouts - sauteed with puffed rice, parmesan, fish sauce. My favorite brussels sprouts dish in the city.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cyssf

                                        Cafe Bunn Mi's roast pork is delicious too.