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"Real" Vietnamese in SF


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If you go to Tu Lan, sit at the bar and watch that guy running the stove. It's quite impressive.

Tu Lan is a bit inconsistent. Their imperial rolls can be excellent, or stale & gummy. I've had excellent soups there (crabmeat and asparagus or corn); and some great grille meats. Stir-fries are little iffier. Usually they taste great, but there's often too much sauch involved.

My best Tu Lan experience was when a bum . . . home-deprived person . . . crack-head came in to sell them 3 six-pack of random beer. After about ten minutes of arguing, the owner gave the guy $10 bucks to leave and someone took the beer out back. By the time I was finished, a new fellow arrived trying to sell the very same beer.

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Thanks, Squeat! Yes, Kathy at Lotus Garden is extremely charming and nice, and she never fails to tell us to enjoy our lunch.

Stone, I agree that the cooks at the counter are extremely impressive. I just haven't had particularly good food. The stir-fries all seem to have the same mix of uninteresting vegetables (and again, way too much sauce). I got some pho there not long ago that was downright awful. To be fair to them, it's not really their specialty (it was a chilly, rainy day and that's what I really wanted), but I had no idea pho could be so bad.

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Dammit I just lost my post.

Anyway. Stone, your story (while much, much funnier) reminds me of when I was assaulted by a bum swinging a 6 pack of beer at me on a crowded sidewalk in Cork for no discernable reason. And it wasn't even on the North Side.

I'm writing all of this down by neighborhood, btw. I'm a bit of a...planner. Looks like we'll never be far from someplace good to eat!

Gourmet Anarchy

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  • 9 months later...
I am an avid fan of Vietnamese food. The epicenter is in San Jose area where there are soo many of the phos, shops and restaurants selling all kinds of stuff Vietnamese.

If you are visitting Bay Area and look for this cuisine, you miss out if you do not visit the following areas:

-Tully Road off 101 freeway, Lion Plaza complex. There is a food court inside chock full of authentic Vietnamese. The problem is many do not have English words. Some do. It might overwhelm you. The shops nearby is also great source of Vietnamese goodies like Banh Mi sandwiches, cakes, etc

-Lee Sandwich shop also nearby on (King Road) and has many interesting goodies like the fluffy pork bun (white) that has outstanding fillings.

-Dynasty Mall off Story road. Inside is the Pho Thenh Long that has bun cha grilled tumeric fish that is awesome (boneless). One order of that is enough to satisfy 3 adults - make sure you get rice. There is also food court nearby that has some interesting stuff.

-For freshly made tofus, go to Binh Minh also on Tully Road off 101 (close to the 101 freeway). $1 for like 7 pcs enough for lunch. If you refry it at home, it will be even better - get the ones with the bits of clear noodles and mushrooms.

-Tung Kee noodle house, various branches are great for cheap combo noodle- make sure to get FLAT EGG noodle and separate soup or you might not be too happy.

-Vung Tau branch in SJ / Milpitas is also great for Vietnamese style NY steak with tomato fried rice, also the rice plates with broken rice and various meat cuts are great.

-Too many to mention. You can also check chowhound.com (SF area) for more recs. But the ones I mention above is enough chow for couple of days and are the main ones, maybe I miss a few great ones.

Let us know how your adventure goes !

I recently tried Hung Tra in Richmond on San Pablo (near Home depot). It was a spur of the moment thing, saw it and craved Bahn Mi. Turns out it has a neighborhood following with quite a few East Bay reviews in the window. I wound up getting the ginger chicken rice plate which was ok with lots of fresh ginger.

Anyone tried this place and have any favorites? I read the crispy ginger crab is very good and it looked pretty good too. A few tables ordered it.

Anyway, looking through this thread, this seems to be the summary, so far on inexpensive Vietnamese in the Bay Area. Anyone have any other ideas to add? East Bay places would especially be appreciated.


Vung Tau (Vietnamese style NY steak with tomato fried rice, also the rice plates with broken rice and various meat cuts are great)


Pho 84

San Francisco

Golden Flower (bun (rice noodle salad) with grilled pork and imperial rolls)

Golden Star (pho)

Lotus Garden (pho)

Minh's Garden (hot and sour soup with prawns or noodle bowl with barbequed pork and imperial roll)

Pho Hiep #2 (pho)

Saigon Sandwich


Wrap Delight (Bahn Mi)

San Jose

Binh Minh (freshly made tofus … get the ones with the bits of clear noodles and mushrooms)

Lee Sandwich (fluffy pork bun (white))

Pho Thenh Long (grilled boneless fish (bun cha))

Tung Kee noodle (house cheap combo noodle- make sure to get FLAT EGG noodle)

The Tully Road joints which is high on my list when I’m in that area again.

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Well, well, well. I see someone is making a list.

Perhaps we can get a California list of our favorites going? As a gesture of goodwill, I'll even type it up. hehe. Heck, maybe we can get a meta list like Sun-Ki's going.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.


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Well, well, well.  I see someone is making a list. 

Perhaps we can get a California list of our favorites going?  As a gesture of goodwill, I'll even type it up. hehe.  Heck, maybe we can get a meta list like Sun-Ki's going.

Never again for me. I did that once and it was difficult :wink:

I just put the list together on this topic to get some discussion going. This way people didn't have to re-read the thru the thread. It was an easy way to see what was mentioned and what was missing. My visit to Ana Mandara had me craving more Vietnames, cheaper Vietnamese.I am SO in a soup mood. Mmmmm pho.

Anyway the software on this board is so great you don't really need to do that. Great search function that works ... Well, maybe a post that had links to all the great posts



French Laungry topic link

Manressa topic link



Link to vietnamese tpics


However it seems unnecessay. Citysearch does the list of restaurants by type.

It seems to me that, for the most part, the organization of this board is such that a few topics covers many restaurants. For example, For Vietnamese, there are a few major threads like this one.

THe problem with doing llists of restaurants is that they change and maintaining them is a bear. I'm still learning the board, so, although it may not be necessary, I'm putting somewhere in the Title the area and Cuisine/Type of food



SF Bay Area Asian Tea Rooms

I'm still new here. I may do mysterious things in my ignorance. This discussion probably doesn't belong here so it's ok to delete or move to the appropriate place. Please be patient with me until I get up to speed.

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thai house express- on larkin near geary also tenderloin (right?)

lots of people think it's the best cheap thai food in sf myself included for specific things like the special pork leg stew over rice

their common thai dishes are much better and hotter than what you get at most other places as well- seemingly much more authentic- green papaya salad with dried shrimps and chilis, etc.

the catfish dishes have been recommened to me but I have not tried them

there is another location at 19th and castro- good as well and they both serve all through the day and late

if you specify hot it is very much so- med hot it usually just right

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