My banh mi search in the Tenderloin brought me to Hoang Dat Coffee Shop for Vietnamese coffee and a banh mi. It shares the block on Geary with Thai House Express and Edinburgh Castle.
The combo banh mi ($2.75) was done well, and I’d probably get it again. I’ve had coffee twice, both hot and on ice. It’s milder here, a little too weak for my taste.
Combo banh mi -
More intriguing though were small glass bowls filled with xiu mai nuoc ($3.75). Served with hot bread, a number of customers were enjoying this meatball soup. The proprietor said that the meatballs were the specialty here and I should try it next time.
I went back Tuesday morning to try the xiu mai nuoc myself as a savory breakfast. Three coarse-ground pork meatballs fill most of the small bowl with just enough room for a ladle or two of richly meaty stock. Studded with onions and some small cubes of something potato or turnip like, the firmish meatballs are accented with black pepper and enhanced by the garnish of fragrant, fresh cilantro leaves. Comforting, tasty, non-challenging . . . just the ticket to kick off the day. The crusty French roll, toasted and served hot, was great for sopping up the liquid. For a little more kick, I added one of the slices of fresh jalapeño chili near the end.
The proprietor brought over a complimentary pot of hot tea and asked me if I liked his meatballs. I can’t think of a better breakfast for the price.
Xiu mai nuoc -
930 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109