Vietnamese Food in San Francisco

| January 8, 2007 | 4 Comments
  • 4 Comments

With a rapidly approaching trip to Vietnam, most of my spare time lately has been focused on anything and everything Vietnamese. San Francisco has some wonderful Vietnamese restuarants, and I am excited to compare what I’ve eaten here with foods in Vietnam to see how the Bay Area stacks up.

Out the Door is the casual little sister to Charles Phan’s renowned restaurant Slanted Door. While the Ferry Plaza’s Out the Door is just a small stand with four or five seats, the new OTD at the Westfield Centre seats nearly 100 and features a takeout counter as well as full-service dining. The dining room is comfortable and efficient, and I enjoyed a great meal there recently. Just beware of the shedding napkins — I was the friend wearing black mentioned here in Leah Garchik’s column recently.

Cookiecrumb at I’m Mad and I Eat wrote about the Bahn Mi at Them Ky in the Tenderloin declaring them to be “Best Sandwich Ever”. Bahn Mi are Vietnamese submarine sandwiches, made with baguettes and typically with barbecued pork or pate, and a mixture of pickled carrots, daikon, onions and cilantro.

Bodega Bistro is a well-loved Vietnamese restaurant on Larkin in the Tenderloin. The Bunrabs give the restaurant three carrots out of four, saying that “the prices are great for such fun and delicious chow.” Robert Lauriston at SF Weekly says that the papaya salad is a standout and the deep-fried crab and black mushroom rolls (nem cua) are as good as those at Slanted Door.

Yummy Yummy on Irving is the place where I learned to truly love pho, the Vietnamese traditional noodle soup. While I have eaten pho at many other restaurants, Yummy Yummy’s is a standout because of the broth which is bright, clean, and full of flavor.

Mai’s Vietnamese Restaurant on Clement is a quiet, casual restaurant where you can eat lunch for around seven dollars. The pho here is very good, and they are known for their delicious imperial rolls. If you don’t feel like crossing the part to go to Yummy Yummy, Mai’s is a decent alternative.

What are your Vietnamese favorites?

To find more recommendations you can check out Chowhound or browse on Yelp.

Bodega Bistro
607 Larkin Street
(415) 921-1218

Mai’s Vietnamese Restaurant
316 Clement Street
(415) 221-3046

Out the Door
1 Ferry Plaza OR The Westfield Centre
(415) 861-8032

Them Ky
717 Ellis Street
(415) 441-8525

Yummy Yummy
1015 Irving Street
(415) 566-4722

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About the Author ()

"My passion for food began young." I am the editor of the influential website www.EatLocalChallenge.com which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers. I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003. I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure. I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers' Market, which was released in February 2010. I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what's in season and chatting with farmers.
  • Anonymous

    Cordon Blue on California Street

  • Diane

    I can’t believe you don’t list Saigon Sandwich on Larkin. It’s so absolutely fabulous….with always a line for their yummy treats. It’s take-away only, or I guess you could sit down if you happen to snag the one chair at the window.

  • Anonymous

    Cool. Thanks, babe.

    (Diane: Saigon Sandwich is the chain, right? I’ve heard good things.)

  • Marc

    Being vegetarian, I like Golden Era Vegetarian (572 O’Farrell) and their East Bay sister Golden Lotus (12th and Franklin in downtown Oakland). The soups are especially interesting.

    I have also had some divine eggplant at Pho 84 on 16th St (I think) in downtown Oakland, but can’t say how truly Vietnamese it was.