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Family of 6 report - The Slanted Door - Upscale Vietnamese

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Family of 6 report - The Slanted Door - Upscale Vietnamese

Native SF in Midwest | Mar 28, 2006 08:24 PM

Our visit today to The Slanted Door had them up against some tough prejudices. We have visited both the Valencia and the current Ferry Building locations and preferred the quieter Valencia location even though it was far less convenient. Also, the recent postings on the board have questioned its reputation, authenticity and value. I somewhat expected to be dropping it off of our annual repeat list after today.

We called as our 1:00 reservation time was approaching to let them know we were running 10 – 15 minutes late due to poor planning and reliance on the MUNI. They said no problem. When we arrived, they were turning other people away as they were stopping lunch service at 2:30. Our table was waiting as promised and we were seated and attended to immediately with water and insight on some unique beverages. My wife, oldest daughter and son ordered the hot Vietnamese coffee, which they all loved. Its presentation is half the fun as the cream is settled on the bottom of the glass mug while the coffee is brewed, drip-style, on top. Due to different densities, the two remain separated until stirred. It was already sweetened, perfectly to their tastes, but far too sweet for me, and I like sweets. I would guess there were 4 to 5 teaspoons of sugar in this 6 oz. cup. $2.50 each.

The 7up came to the table in an old style green glass returnable bottle, apparently from Mexico. This was a neat nostalgia item to see. The ginger ale was described as Reed’s premium ginger brew. Nothing unique there other than being $4 a bottle. The rest had water.

We started with two orders of the Slanted Door spring rolls. They mistakenly brought out a single portion of crispy imperial rolls at first, but corrected it immediately without further discussion needed. The spring rolls with large shrimp, pork, mint leaves and rice in a delicate wrap served with a side of peanut sauce were as good as before. The similar item at Bodega Bistro was every bit as good as this but perhaps heavier on the mint. Everyone liked them, but my 8 year old son, might have preferred the crispy imperial rolls instead. $7.50 per order. Highly recommended.

We shared two bowls of soup between the 7 of us. There was plenty leftover although we all enjoyed it. We had the chicken noodle soup and the shrimp and pork won ton soup. Both seemed to be the same soup, beef broth, green onion slices and lots of plain-Jane Ramen noodles. Our friend from West Philly described them both as rather “Ghetto” given the similarity to cheap store-bought Ramen soup mixes he gets frequently as a college student for around $.39 a serving. I mention the noodles so that you too know what is in there and won’t be surprised when you see them. At $8 a bowl, that can easily fill 3 tummies, it is not a bad deal. But The SD should not be about filling tummies for the lowest price. The baby loved the ease of eating the noodles with her ever-present “food sticks” (chop sticks). This would also be a good choice for less adventuresome kids who want a fun item. Eating the noodles Asian-style, cradling the bowl in one hand and bringing it up close to mouth and pulling the noodles out with chopsticks, could be fun for them. And believe me, with the length of those noodles, it is less messy than trying to use the supplied spoons. Not recommended for true Hounds, but maybe for the growing “pups”.

Next were two delicious salads, the Green Papaya salad and the grapefruit and jicama salad. The Green Papaya salad, listed as “Nom” at Bodega was similar, but sweeter and without Bodega’s red chili kick. It was great, did not go to waste by any means and is a wonderful presentation. Kids loved it. The Grapefruit and Jicama salad was also well liked but perhaps slightly less than the papaya. Both recommended for all, and easily navigated via chopsticks. $8 each.

We ordered two orders of Shaking Beef. This is a signature dish. Wonderful filet meat with onions and sauce. Unless you are beef adverse, you should get this and with 5 or more in your group, two orders. Highly recommended and our favorite item on menu. $21.50

Our 2.5 year old dropped her chopsticks three times and refused to eat until they were replaced. I wonder what it is going to be like when we get home next week and our table has the traditional knife and fork setting? Sigh.

The grilled, 5 spice chicken was a nice compliment to the beef and also recommended. Served with a sweet tamarind sauce with possibly a pear base, it is predictable and good. All liked it, but it did not go as fast as the beef. Recommended $14.50

We also had the caramelized tiger prawns. These were not sweet, but in a nice mildly spicy brown sauce. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and it tasted good. It was the slowest to disappear which was strange given our family’s penchant for shrimp. Recommended $15.50

The recommended veggies of broccolini and sugar snap peas were light, perfectly steamed and good. This place does veggies right. Of course, my somewhat weird kids LOVE veggies and can’t get enough at home anyways. Follow the server’s guide for veggies for the day. $9.50 each.

The included sticky rice was good, small grain and plain, as it should be.

The desserts were all very good and there were several options to choose from. We selected 4 different items, including trios of ice cream, trios of sorbet, a peanut butter and chocolate cake w/ vanilla bean ice cream and a warm apple-pear compote. All were great and please save room for dessert. Each is $7

The new SD is noisier than the old location, but adds some liveliness. For a group or family, it is nice, but for romantic couples, a little off. The view is great, the service from our waiter, T. R., was spot on for recommendations, coursing and attentiveness. The hostess was quick, efficient and friendly. No complaints there.

I felt this year’s visit was better than last years and we will return. The amount of food was perfect and we had no leftovers.

Only real possible negative for a larger family is the final bill, $250.00 with tip. But we feel it was worth the splurge. Compared to Bodega Bistro, the service is a step above and the location far more ideal. But if what you primarily pay for is good chow, Bodega wins. It was FAR cheaper and so excellent.

Next up: Zuni Café – Mediterranean California. And yes, we will be ordering the much praised chicken.

Native

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