Thanks to those who responded to my post earlier today.
My friend and I ended up at Turtle Tower. We shared two items.
The rare beef pho was really excellent. Fresh rice noodles really made a huge difference, not to mention the delicious broth (gingery, beefy, tasted like something my grandma would make). The beef was rare and tender. They brought us two small bowls to easily share the soup which was nice. I would definitely come back here for pho.
We also ordered a rice plate with the beef stew in wine sauce and we both found this really disappointing. We barely made a dent in it. The beef was tender, reminded me of brisket, but the sauce was a bit too sweet and tasted like cheap red wine...it was also pretty gloopy, tasted like it had been sitting around all day, and was bright red from the food coloring. Perhaps it's a matter of taste that we didn't like this (maybe other people love this dish this way?), but rarely have I ever had such a contrast of wonderful and bad when ordering two dishes in the same restaurant.
The fresh lemonade was good.
As we were leaving, we saw the table next to us had cha ca, a north vietnamese dish that was served in a pot over a flame. Served with peanuts, special broth and shrimp taste. These neighbors (I vaguely suspected they were fellow chowhounds?) gave me a taste, and this was another winner. I would definitely return to Turtle Tower and try this dish out for real.
I'd definitely return to Turtle Tower sometime....it is definitely the best beef pho broth I've had in the city.
631 Larkin Street
(between Eddy St & Ellis St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
P.S. Despite not eating much of the beef dish, we were pretty full after sharing the large pho. We went to Lee's across the street for a small dessert. We shared some black sesame mochi, which I expected to be filled with black sesame, but instead they were made with black sesame dough and filled with red bean. Better than I expected them to be, $1.50 for 4 of them. Unfortunately, we then witnessed a huge commotion inside of Lee's that involved a woman who was possibly shoplifting and definitely pretty crazy...lots of really loud screaming, swearing, throwing of cookies, and eventually, the arrival of the police. The Tenderloin may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the food is so good that it makes it worth it.
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