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Restaurants & Bars

Ngu Binh - new Vietnamese @337 Jones, SF (former site of Hung Ky)

zippo | Dec 20, 200602:41 PM     17

About two weeks ago a new Vietnamese restaurant opened at the location that was the site of one of Chowhounds' favorites, Hung Ky. Hung Ky had been sold and may reopen at some point in the Sunset District in San Francisco.

The new restaurant is

Ngu Binh (Dac Biet Bun Bo Hue)
337 Jones St. (between Ellis and Eddy)
San Francisco, Ca 94102
Tel: 415-346-3100
Hours: 8:30 AM - 7 PM

The dining area is the same except for some fresh paint and the large, flat-panel TV in the corner is gone. According to the waiter, it is a family run operation and is their first restaurant. They did not know Hung, the operator of Hung Ky, before they saw a classified ad listing Hung Ky for sale.

When I had an early lunch there last week, some of the kitchen equipment was being upgraded and not all the items on an early version of the menu were available. Understandably, it might still be a little while until it's fully up to speed. Right now they are focusing on the soup menu.

Off the Appetizer menu, I was interested in Banh Bot Loc (shrimp & pork with rice paste- $4.75) and Banh Nam (rice cake with shrimp-$4.75) and the waiter was kind enough to have the kitchen put together a 1/2 order of each.

The Banh Bot Loc came on a stylish, square green ceramic plate and consisted of short, (about 2"), oval translucent rice noodles or paste stuffed with medium shrimp and small pieces of pork. Also a fish sauce for dipping. I'd never had this dish (or the Banh Nam) before and found it and the presentation pretty appealing.

The Banh Nam came on small, round dishes about 2" in diameter with a thin layer of a soft, custardy-consistency rice cake with chopped shrimp, chopped chive and a couple of croutons on top. Very delicate.

An earlier version of their menu did list Banh Khot (pork, shrimp mini cake), Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake, served with mint leaves and lettuce), Banh Beo Chen (steamed rice cake with shrimp) and our beloved Banh Cuon Tay Ho (steamed rice rolls and fancy pork with fish sauce) but these items were whited-out on a newer menu and were not available on the day I went. My understanding is that these items will be available when the changes to the kitchen are completed.

Hopefully, some Chowhounders will check in at Ngu Binh and give them some encouragement during their transition in a tough spot. What little I did sample of their menu was intriquing and ambitious and am anxious to see what they can do given some more time.

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