Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Slanted Door review - San Francisco Ferry Terminal Building's main draw

The+Slanted+Door+review+San+Francisco+Ferry+Terminal+Building+vietnamese+restaurant+phoAddress: 1 Ferry Building
San Francisco CA 94105
Tel: (415) 861-8032

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below $30pp (without drinks)
Service charge: 20% for parties of 6 or more
Taste: ****
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
This is a series of reviews done up for my trip to San Francisco. I figure that since I have to eat, I might as well write about it. Enjoy!

The Ferry Terminal Building at San Francisco is one of my favourite spot in the city for the simple reason that it is where I can find pretty much all I need under one roof. Other than the popular Farmers Market that operates in the front and back of the building on Tuedays, Thursdays and Saturdays, fresh breads can be had from ACME Bread Company and fabulous waffles, which trumped those in Brussels, from Blue Bottle.

Then there is The Slanted Door that offers a contemporary take on the Vietnamese cuisine. This restaurant that is at the northern end of the Ferry Terminal Building is not only featured on every single travel guides on San Francisco but also teeming with local regulars every single time we were there. In fact, we had to make a reservation a couple of days earlier and even then we could only get a slot at 11.30am for an early Sunday lunch. We were lucky this time round; we spent quite some time at The Slanted Door’s bar counter when we had unwisely thought that it couldn’t possibly be full at 5pm on a weekday afternoon (that is when it opens for dinner) in an earlier visit.

It is not difficult to see why The Slanted Door counts as one of the more popular restaurants in San Francisco. On a sunny day (and San Francisco has lots of that), there is a certain cheer about having even a simple pho facing San Francisco Bay. And that is especially so if you managed to get one of the five coveted booth seats that faces the Bay.

A staff greeted a diner on the table next to us by his first name and then went on to discuss about the Giants' recent win. Not only that, the couple in the table behind me were apparently regulars as well. And yes, they were on a first name basis with the staff as well. The Slanted Door must have done something right to get locals returning again and again.


We went for the usual suspects. The crispy imperial rolls ($10) good sized shrimps and bits of pork were a mouthful. With a name like that, I couldn't help but give it a go. Without a tinge of oil, which in itself was an accomplishment, they were when complemented by glass noodles and grated peanuts.

The pho bo ($6) didn't quite do it for me. Although the beef slices were pink in the middle - hallmark of a beef done just right, there was this unpleasant powdery texture in the aftertaste. The soup base had depth yet a tad subtle. While Wife loved its subtlety, I thought that it could do with a wee bit more taste.


The caramelised catfish claypot ($15) is something that we have always ordered whenever we dropped by The Slanted Door and for good reasons too. The mix of caramelised sugar and soy sauce was just the right mix with the sweetness and saltiness finely balanced. The chunks of catfish cooked slowly in the thick sauce remained tender and their freshness was apparent when each slice tore off cleanly.

Although it can get a bit crowded towards lunch proper (the reservation staff weren't kidding when they said that The Slanted Door would be packed). Though there was a small queue formed at the queue, there was no obvious effort by the staff to hurry us on (discreetly laying the bill on the table etc.). Yes, it may not have the intimacy of a traditional Vietnamese setup, but its heart is at the right place. The Slanted Door is worth taking a trip down to Ferry Terminal Building. Just don't get carried away while ordering as the prices are on the steep side.

Slanted Door on Urbanspoon

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