went to bodega bistro last night on our way home from camping in big sur after a botched, impromptu attempt at a busy santa ramen sunday in san mateo. this is what we had:
1.) papaya salad. the clear winner of the night. i've never had papaya salad before but my gf mentioned that the papaya is usually julienned and is not in fine threads via a japanese mandoline like bodega bistro's version. it was lightly dressed in that fish sauce/lime juice/sriracha concoction with chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, and small slivers of beef jerky. tasty starter and great alternative to the more usual spring roll.
2.) shaking beef. again, i've never had any rendition of shaking beef before and they didn't have it on their menu, but i mentioned to the waiter, and they accomodated for us. my gf and i thought the cubed beef was tender and of decent quality, but the sauce it was smothered in was rather bland. there were also diced onions in it, a bed of neatly julienned cucumbers and carrots on top of a leaf of butter lettuce to the side, and a tri-cut tomato below the bed of julienned veggies.
3.) beef pho. my son had the normal beef pho with raw flank steak and meatballs. the steak in bodega's pho was more tender than the usual steak that is in pho. but the soup was nothing special; it wasn't bad, it just wasn't that good either. i've had better pho at ppq on irving as well as pho84 and mayhong (closed down) in oakland.
4.) nem cua. this was described on the menu as a dungeness crab and black mushroom crepe. we waited about 45 minutes for this after finishing off our last dish. our waiter came back to us with check in hand before serving this dish and we alerted him that we were anxiously awaiting its arrival any second. moments after, we noticed a waiter entering the front door close to where we were seated carrying in a plastic bag with one cooked dungeness crab. a couple minutes afterwards, that same crab (presumably) was being served whole with garnish to a different table. then moments after...blah blah blah another waiter comes walking in with another dungeness crab and we're finally served our nem cua. it came in diagonally chopped eggrolls filled with dungeness crab and i couldn't really tell or taste what else, some butter lettuce (the crepe part), vermicelli noodles to the side and the ubiquitous pile of julienned cucumbers and carrots. we just stuffed it all into the butter lettuce like korean bbq style and dipped it into the fish sauce dressing/dipping sauce. just okay, definitely not worth the wait though.
all in all, the food was decent considering prices. i would only go back if i was really hungry, was in the immediate area, and if saigon sandwiches (catty corner across the street) was closed. the service was friendly and competent until the nem cua incident (probably a kitchen error, more than anything). but otherwise like a previous poster suggested, i wouldn't drive out and take the time to go to bodega bistro.