RANG DONG in Oakland'd Chinatown has got to be the very best Vietnamese food I've tried in the Bay Area.
The pho is rich, dark, flavourful and authentic. The subtle spiciness of the glistening stock is an epicurian pleasure layered with sweet and savory undertones of star anise, cinnamon and garlic. The soup is chock full of lean meats or sparkling crisp seasonal veggies.
My favorite, the vegetable soup, is really a vegetarian delight - firm noodles, broccoli, snappy string beans, choy, slivers of taut carrots and fresh-never-soggy noodles swimming in a truly vegetarian broth (unlike many Vietnamese places that sub chicken stock).
The buns are carefully prepared; densely flavoured, yet cleanly distinguishable toppings aboard warm noodles.
But, it is the entrees here that truly shine: lemon-grass chicken or the most lusciuos and creamy tofu, tamaring prawns or salt and pepper calamari, absolutely authentic broken rice dishes or unusual in an American market - tomato and pork liver soup.
The fish is exquisitely prepared, baot fresh and never greasy. The barbequed meats are slightly crist and so tender.
Thang, the owner, and his wife make every effort to see that their customers are treated like royalty with excellent service and a flexibility in preparing foods to your liking unique nowadays in a dining experience.
Before a water or tea cup is empty, it is efficiently filled, quietly and without disruption. The service is impeccable!
One more thing - what a bargain! RANG DONG'S