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First Impressions: Pagolac SF vs Anh Hong San Jose 7 Courses of Beef

Pia | Apr 2, 200501:50 AM

I've had only one meal at each place, both within the past week. And, due to a misunderstanding during the ordering (one in our party of four at Anh Hong didn't want the raw beef salad) we didn't get to try the salad at Anh Hong.

However, the same 3 of us who dined at both places came to the same conclusion: we prefer Pagolac. Anh Hong offers bigger portions, but the food at Pagolac seems to be more carefully prepared and each course more distinctively seasoned. Pagolac, despite its Tenderloin location, is also cleaner and a more attractive space.

Both restaurants start with the raw beef salad, then follow with the cook-it-yourself beef in vinegar. At Pagolac, this is followed by a delicious fritter (some kind of banh, I think) made with mashed mung beans, minced pork, and chunks of shrimp. The fourth course at Pagolac is a grill-it-yourself beef with sesame. At Anh Hong, courses 3-6 come all together on one platter: something that resembles a fritatta of ground beef, cellophane noodles, and wood ear mushrooms, oblong meatballs, more oblong meatballs wrapped in what might have been rather tasteless Lot leaves, and marinated grilled beef slices. At Pagolac, the fifth and sixth courses came together, the leaf-wrapped meatballs and the grilled beef slices. At both places the last course was a rice soup with minced beef. Generous amounts of ice paper wrappers and an assortment of fresh herbs and vegetables were supplied at both places.

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