Vietnamese food is something that I can eat everyday. The brothy, fragrant soups, the fresh herbs and vegetables, the vermicelli noodles, the grilled meats, and the contrasting colours and textures makes it one of the healthiest and visually appealing cuisines. While we usually gravitate towards Chinatown-esque spots for our pho in Toronto, San Francisco called for something different. We had to go for the much talked about Rice Paper Scissors and The Slanted Door. The first is a pop-up street cafe, while the latter occupies prime fixture at the beautiful Ferry Building overlooking the Bay Bridge. Both were equally good, though our hipster hearts fell in love with Rice Paper Scissors for their focus on lesser known Vietnamese dishes.
POP-UP BRUNCH: Rice Paper Scissors
If you’ve watched Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off the Boat series, you may have heard of the duo behind Rice Paper Scissors. Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan have been cooking and grilling on the sidewalks of the Mission for the past few years, serving their take on Vietnamese food to passer-by on folded tables and little red stools. They’re now operating pop-up brunches across the city with their most recent one at Dear Mom.
We had the two Pate Chaud, one meat and one mushroom, which were juicy and umami-filled flaky buns topped with pickle ginger, and shared the Bun Chan, pork meatballs served in a vinegary broth and eaten with netted rice noodles with the usual Vietnamese accompaniments. They all hit the elements: sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and played with texture. A definite treat and worth checking out.
Also, how cute are the mom pictures at Dear Mom? Super cute.
LUNCH: The Slanted Door
I had no idea who Best Chef: California James Beard 2004 winner Charles Phan was until I came across his Vietnamese Home Cooking book last winter. Like many chef books, it is part memoir, part gastronomy, and part recipes, and while the photographs by Eric Wolfinger are gorgeous and inviting (as always), Phan’s writing on Vietnamese cuisine is what sold me on his restaurant The Slanted Door. Specifically, his description of the pho he’s had growing up was enticing and it didn’t seem like it was something we should pass up on.
We ordered the shrimp fresh rolls, cellophane noodles with Dungeness crabs, curried Japanese eggplants, and a beef pho soup. I suspect you can get as equally tasty Vietnamese food elsewhere as well, but the airy light-filled space and view is worth a splurge.
Canon AE-1 | Kodak Portra 400
The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3 | Website