Kimchi is the New Cupcake

Image

Courtesy of Kimchi Mom (www.kimchimom.com)

…Okay, the cupcake is pretty passe in the world of food trends (but still pretty popular). We’ve moved on to bundt cakes.

But I digress…

My most recent trip to the San Francisco Fancy Food Show earlier this year further confirmed that Asian foods are still as popular as ever in this country. However, Chinese and Japanese foods are so commonplace that they’re no longer seen as “exotic” to us.

Enter Korean food. It’s the hot new trend in the Asian American food world. And nothing symbolizes Korean food like kimchi.

Kimchi is napa cabbage that’s fermented or pickled with red chili paste, anchovies, salt, ginger and garlic. The result is a pungent, spicy, sour dish that is served with every Korean meal morning, noon and night. Every household has a recipe.

Stateside, kimchi is just starting to move beyond the Korean household. It’s suddenly become trendy. PBS recently even aired a season of a show called “Kimchi Chronicles” that included celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and actor, Hugh Jackman.

Health food advocates claim it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s got a large concentration of fiber, is high in vitamins A and C, and contains plenty of good bacteria which helps aid in digestion.

For foodies, it just plain tastes good. It gives everything you eat a zesty, spicy kick and a little goes a very long way. I personally love the texture it adds to everything with the crunchiness of the cabbage.

My husband is addicted to the stuff. So much so that we’ve come to appreciate the huge tubs of it they sell at our local Costco. (We try to avoid brands that contain MSG. It’s harder to find, but worth it.) It’s also become a staple of his daily breakfast. He tops his two poached eggs with about a quarter cup of kimchi most mornings and I have to admit, it’s pretty damn tasty. It’s a great way to perk up boring eggs. Once you try it it’s pretty addictive. You’ve been warned.

Curry Up Now Wants You to Join The Dosa Republic

Inside The Dosa Republic

Husband and wife team, Akash and Rana Kapoor have created a name for themselves with their Curry Up Now food trucks, specializing in authentic and boldly flavored Indian street food. Their immense popularity spawned an equally popular brick and mortar joint in San Mateo, which opened last year.

Curry Up Now started as a pipe dream for Rana. She had always loved feeding large groups of friends and family at home, and wanted to bring that feeling of creating and sharing a good home cooked Indian meal to a larger community.

But Akash, who also loves to cook and create special dishes for their restaurant’s menu, had a culinary dream of his own.

“I went to this place in India that specialized in dosas and they had 140 different kinds you could choose from. They took a traditional Indian dish and made it cutting edge. That became the inspiration for this new restaurant.”

Enter The Dosa Republic, which opened this week. The new fast-casual restaurant in San Mateo serves rice bowls, salads, inventive appetizers, and of course, dosas. The Kapoors are taking this traditional Southern Indian staple and giving it a modern twist.

Dosas are thin, crepe-like delicacies made from a rice and lentil batter, making them naturally gluten-free. The dosa crepes are then filled with a variety of ingredients. That’s where the fun comes in for Akash, who created the menu.

Paisano Dosa
Paisano Dosa

They have two dosa menus which include The Dosa Republic’s own innovative creations, like the Paisano, filled with prosciutto, figs and burrata, along with the more traditional ones, like the Bombay, with potatoes, green onions and chili. Many dishes can also be made vegan.

Kale Vada Sambar
Kale Vada Sambar

One of the more notable appetizers include the Kale Vada Sambar, a deliciously fried lentil and kale dumpling served with their lentil and seasonal veggie stew. Many dishes come with the stew or a Sri Lankan Curry to dip. Others are served with a variety of chutneys like young coconut, tomato, and strawberry habenero mint. It’s a lot of flavors to take in, but they certainly make for an extremely interesting and adventurous eating experience.

Tanga Dosa
Tanga Dosa

But one of the most popular dishes seems to be the Tanga Dosa, filled with an unusual combination of ramen noodles, carrots and cabbage for crunch, and Gobi Cauliflower (chili cauliflower), which resembles more of a Chinese sweet and sour dish because of it’s bright orange hue. “Chinese food is actually really popular in India right now, or their version of it,” says Akash. “That’s why the Gobi Chicken and Cauliflower look like something from a Chinese restaurant.” The flavors, thankfully, are more tangy and spicy than sweet and sour.

The Tanga was a wonderfully satisfying dosa, giving you a complete protein, veggie and carb meal all wrapped in one extremely delectable package.

Sinhala Dosa
Sinhala Dosa

Also notable is the Sinhala Dosa, which contains juicy chicken, curry and potato. The boldly flavored spices come through loud and clear without coming on too strong. Everything was cooked perfectly from the meat to the lightly crisp yet soft and tender crepe it’s wrapped in.

The Kapoors have taken this humble yet commonly enjoyed Indian dish and managed to make it fun, tasty, and surprisingly unintimidating to a Bay Area audience that might not be familiar with it. It’s a formula they seem to have down pat with Curry Up Now. Now at The Dosa Republic, they’re betting that formula can work for them again.

Dosa Republic Interior

The Dosa Republic
Address: Map
2299 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403
Phone: 650.458.DOSA
Twitter: @thedosarepublic
Facebook: Curry UpNow

Review: Metromint

The 6 Metromint water flavors. Courtesy Metromint.com

The folks at Metromint were kind enough to send me samples of their line of flavored waters way back when. Unfortunately, the timing was bad. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and the thought of those waters made me want to puke (it had nothing to do with a bottle of water and everything to do with my physical state at the time). Fortunately, it was temporary, but I had completely forgotten about the waters until recently.

Metromint is an all natural mintwater made with real mint. No sweeteners, no calories, and no preservatives.

The first two times I tasted a Metromint water were before I ever even received the samples. It was at a food event and I have to admit, I was less than impressed. It was the Peppermint flavor, chilled, which is how they suggest you drink it. My first thought when I took my first sip was mouthwash. Most specifically, I thought it tasted like Scope. Not good. I vowed never to try it again.

But later on, I found a bottle of the Chocolate Mint variety in a gift bag I had, room temp, and out of sheer thirsty desperation, I took a swig. To my surprise, I rather liked it! I found that not chilling it actually made the mint in the water mellow out, which is what I preferred over the overwhelming burst of minty freshness I had initially experienced.

So when I received the complete line of flavors, I was curious to see if this was the case with all the flavors. It indeed was. I also found that I like the mellow addition of mint to the subtle cherry, orange and lemon flavors. Very refreshing. I realized that my issue with Metromint was the Peppermint flavor itself. It reminded me too much of a breath freshener or a mouthwash. Even the Spearmint was less offensive to me.

It’s the perfect beverage for a hot summer day, and a good alternative to lemonade. I keep thinking: refreshing…as long as I stay away from the Peppermint.

Post Holiday Sales & Smart Shopping

I’ll go a little off -topic and talk a little bit about the holiday shopping season: a subject I always have an opinion on.

I’ve always been a huge fan of shopping post holiday sales for finding some ridiculously good deals. My fave stores include Saks, J.Crew, and a few others. It’s a tradition for me and some of my family and closest friends.

Here’s my recent interview with Associated Press’ Christina Rexrode on the topic.

And here’s the radio interview I did with Ken Schram of Seattle’s KOMO Newsradio.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Peninsula’s Best Casual Dishes

Garlic Pork Ramen w/corn from Dojo Ramen

I’ve had the great fortune of visiting a wide variety of restaurants over the years. Most are good, some mediocre, and a few just plain horrid. But there are a few standouts; the kind of restaurant where everything comes together and you can’t stop thinking about the meal you just had there. These are places in the Bay Area peninsula where service, cleanliness, overall vibe and of course, food are not only good, but memorable and relatively AFFORDABLE!

Curry Up Now (San Mateo) – Deconstructed Samosa, Chicken Kathi Roll

Cuisinett (San Carlos) – Moules Frites

Millbrae Dumpling Shop (Millbrae) - Braised Lion’s Head Meatballs, Xiao Long Bao

Mingalaba (Burlingame) - House Special Noodles, Tea Leaf Salad

Osteria Coppa (San Mateo) – Tagliatelle Bolognaise

Ramen Dojo (San Mateo) – Garlic Pork Ramen

Speederia Pizzeria (San Carlos) - Indianapolis Pizza

James Beard Award Winning Chef Michael Tusk’s Cotogna

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Cotogna is one of the hardest tables to snag in town. I should know, I’ve been trying ever since the place opened in late 2010. And Chef Michael Tusk’s James Beard Award win earlier this year only made the effort even harder.

Still, my curiosity never waned. Could this more casual sister restaurant to the famous Quince just next door be worth the wait?

Well first off, the restaurant is much smaller than I expected, which explains why there aren’t as many reservation slots as you might think. But I finally got a reasonably timed reservation for a late lunch on a Saturday I was free.

The interior is cozy and unpretentious with it’s light woods and neutral tones, along with the communal table for large parties and walk ins. I loved their linen burlap-like napkins.

As for the food, the rustic menu was the perfect match for the setting and decor. Everything was simple yet there was a definite harmony in the balance of flavors and textures of each dish.

We took advantage of the $20 three-course prix fixe lunch, which changes daily, and also ordered one of their famous wood-fired pizzas, all to share.

First up was the Turkey and Fregola Soup with Wild Rice and a lovely piece of toasted bread. They do meats well here, with their braising and roasting. The stock for this soup had depth and you could tell no corners were cut. It provided a hearty base for this wonderfully flavored soup. The bread provided some crunch and texture.

Next was the Manila Clam, Hot Pepper and Broccoli di Ciccio Pizza that came out of their famous wood-fired oven. The crust was super thin and crisp, but not cracker crisp. There was still a lovely chewiness to it. And there was the perfect amount of blistered char on the bottom. Not so much that the whole thing tasted burnt. The clams were fresh, the sauce was tangy and the bitter greens together gave this pizza a great balance of varied flavors. Then there was that subtle kick from the pepper to finish.

Then we had the Pappardelle with Braised Oxtail. I love a good pasta dish and I could’ve licked this plate clean. My biggest complaint was the serving was a bit on the smaller side. Other than that, the bright yellow ribbons of eggy house-made pasta were almost buttery and cooked to a perfect al dente. The hearty meat sauce was flavorful, tender and seasoned well with just a hint of tomato. I loved how the meat didn’t overpower the pasta. Each element had a chance to complement each other.

We finished with the Warm Pippin Apple and Almond Crostata. Once again, there was a wonderful contrast to the tender sweet apples (not too sweet, thankfully) and the perfectly thin crisp crust. But the real star was the house-made date and cinnamon ice cream. It was the perfect finish.

Service is a bit cold, impersonal, yet professional. It becomes a non-factor if you don’t let it bother you. I let the food and the setting speak for itself, instead.

If I had to choose one word for this restaurant it would be “rustic”. There was nothing glaringly special or over the top here. And though the setting is definitely not white tablecloth stuffy, it’s special enough for a nice occasion. The food is simple, expertly prepared, and there’s a great amount of attention to detail. It’s nothing you’d rush back for, but you’d definitely want to return at some point. It is a memorable meal if you pay attention to the details.

Cotogna on Urbanspoon

New York City: Work hard, shop hard, eat well

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New York City has always been about three things for me: Work hard, shop hard, eat well. I was in town for only 3 nights on a business trip, so I had to pack a lot into just a little amount of free time. Fortunately, NYC is a good place for that.

I visited a few key restaurants and hit up a few key sales, deciding not to waste my time with stores that were even remotely touristy or similar to the ones I could find back in San Francisco. I was shopping with a purpose, no browsing here. And I wanted to hit up a few key eateries that were sure to please.

Here’s a recap (but by no means a “Best of” list):

Uniqlo – I arrived early enough in the evening to hit up their new 5th Avenue flagship store before closing time. The place opened less than a week ago and in the daytime, there were still plenty of people lining up just to get inside the 3 story building full of H&M-esque Japanese fashions. They were promoting a lot of cashmere (in 25 different colors), puffy jackets, and $10 jeans (on sale), but I was more interested in their undergarments and leggings. They’re a great deal and good quality.

Halal Cart http://53rdand6th.com (53rd St. & 6th Ave.) – Their famous Chicken and Rice platter with white sauce is frequently named as one of the best street food eats in town. I’m lucky because I usually end up staying at the Hilton which is right next to the cart. And after arriving in NYC just a few hours before, it was the perfect low-key meal to take up to the room and eat while unpacking. Although, I suspect this meal tastes much better after some club hopping and you’re looking for something hearty to suck up all the alcohol in your system.

Ess-A-Bagel http://www.ess-a-bagel.com (831 3rd Ave.) – Just like NYC pizza, you can’t get a bagel anywhere else like the kinds you find in the Big Apple, and Ess-A-Bagel is the perfect place to get the perfect bagel. It’s been around since 1976 and is a NYC institution. I went with the standard lox and cream cheese with some red onions and lettuce on a toasted everything bagel and it was the perfect breakfast. The bagel itself was perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, just like you’d want it to be. Why is this so hard to find anywhere else?

Lupa http://www.luparestaurant.com (170 Thompson St.) – This Mario Batali eatery is the lower key version of his famous Babbo restaurant, though many think it’s actually better. It’s casual and low-key, which I liked.

My friend and I shared the Salumi Platter which included slices of Prosciutto Di Parma and house-made Coppa Cotta, Testa, Speck and Lingua, among others. It was the highlight of the meal. For entrees we ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, which was solidly good, but nothing to write home about, and the Skate with Lentils and Greens, which had a bright citrusy flavor from the grapefruit in the dish. And it was perfectly cooked. For dessert, we splurged with the Lupa Tartufo which both looked and tasted like a huge Ferrero Rocher chocolate, except with a decadent ice cream filled center. There was hazelnut and chocolate all over this huge thing. It was delicious and definitely enough to serve two. The service was friendly, attentive and unpretentious.

The Jill Sander Sample Sale – This event happens twice a year in NYC from what I can tell, and it’s a popular sale with locals. Eventhough my pregnant self can’t fit into any of the clothes that were 85% off, I found handbags and shoes. You can’t beat getting a pair of patent leather flats and pair of neutral slingbacks for just $140, altogether (including tax). They originally retailed for over $400 a pair.

Prune http://www.prunerestaurant.com (54 East 1st St.) – Before I talk about the food, I have to get my Jake Gyllenhaal sighting out of the way. The dude was waiting for a table just like anyone else, so that was refreshing to see. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to get all TMZ on him so I didn’t snap a picture.

Anyways, this famous restaurant is a favorite among chefs like Eric Rupert and Anthony Bourdain, and obviously, celebrities that like to wander in without an entourage. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton has become a bit of a celebrity herself in recent months with her culinary accolades, bestselling book, and personal life. All that aside, the food was surprisingly simple but beautifully executed.

We ordered the Rock Shrimp Roll with Old Bay Seasoned Fries and the Duck Breast with Beets. The shrimp was some of the freshest we’d ever tasted. They were so tender and sweet and tasted like they were just plucked from the water. The duck breast had just a touch of sweet smokiness and was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was simplicity at its best.

Laduree (864 Madison Ave.) – I have been in love with this legendary Parisian macaron giant since my first bite at their Champs Elysees flagship store. Everything about it is over the top but their macarons stand up to the hype with their wonderfully delicate cookie (crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside) and their fragrant flavored fillings. I HAD to make the trek to their new outpost in NYC. This is their first and only store in North America. I’m happy to report that the macarons taste just as good as they did in Paris…except just a tad sweeter (to fit the American palate, unfortunately). They come in a myriad of flavors and colors, but my favorites will always be Cassis, Orange Blossom, and Salted Caramel. Yum…

Pizzarte http://www.pizzarteny.com (69 West 55th St.) – It’s hard to find a distinctive place to eat in the heart of Midtown that’s not touristy, overpriced, or unimaginative. Enter Pizzarte. Though it wasn’t the New York-style pie I was craving, it didn’t disappoint. Their Neapolitan-style Margherita pie had that perfectly charred and chewy crust with a fresh and tangy tomato sauce. And the Warm Burratta with butternut squash and broccoli rabe appetizer my friend and I shared was creamy and comforting.

The interior was clean, stylish and contemporary, and the food was of surprisingly great quality and preparation, which was a great surprise given its kitschy location.

Botkier Sample Sale – My last present to myself came in the form of a beautiful plum handbag that retailed for $600 at Nordstrom, but ended up being only $200 at their company’s sample sale. There were clutches for less than $100, and many bags were only $150. Incredible steal for a designer leather bag. I’m glad I went.

Besides Jake Gyllenhaal (which frankly would’ve been enough), I shared space with Gayle King and the Reverend Al Sharpton earlier that same day. Craziness. I was hoping I’d bump into George Clooney by dinnertime, but no such luck. I think my luck was already pretty good, so I didn’t complain. :)

Fall is pear season…and this is the perfect pear.

“Oh my God, these pears are beyond words! Where can we get some more of these?”

Those were the first words out of my husband’s mouth after tasting his first Warren Pear. The folks at Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood are one of the few farms in the country to grow this specific type since they can be a bit difficult to grow. But it’s SO worth it!

They were nice enough to send me a box to sample since they were blessed with a stellar crop this year. Fall may be apple season to most, but for these guys, it’s the start of pear season.

I had every intention of doing something fun with these pears…like putting them into pre-made pie crust and making a lovely pear galette, placing some slices in a grilled cheese sandwich, or coring them and placing some maple syrup, raisins and cinnamon down the middle to make some perfect baked pears. The texture on these is wonderfully firm so they’d hold up better to baking then some other more common varieties.

But in the end, my husband and toddler couldn’t stay away. I let them have two of the six we received to eat and try and they were instantly hooked. These are simply the perfect pear: ridiculously sugary sweet with a creamy buttery texture and aftertaste. There’s no hint of any grainy, mealy mouthfeel. You have to taste these things to believe it.

Recipe for Frog Hollow Farm/Chez Panisse’s Warren Pear Crisp

You can order these puppies online at http://www.froghollow.com or find them at select Whole Foods Markets. They’re also popping up all over restaurants in the Bay Area.

*This is not a paid post. Free product was received but not in exchange for content.

Cuisinett: French Cuisine Gets Casual

Cuisinett interior
Cuisinett interior

French food tends to have the stereotype of being pretentious, formal, and expensive. But the owner of the newly opened Cuisinett in San Carlos, Geofforey Raby, and former Executive Chef of Menlo Park’s shuttered Marche, Guillaume Bienaime, want you to believe otherwise.

“The kind of food we serve here is the kind my Mom would make,” says Raby. “I’ve been working in restaurants since I was 15 in Lille, France. I’ve learned that there’s importance to making people happy. But there’s a fine line between being attentive and being annoying. I wanted to create a casual, family-friendly restaurant with beautiful, simple design and great quality French food at a good price.”

Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin with Buttery Peas, Carrots and Pearl Onions

They call it “French Comfort Food,” and their main focus is to change the common perception that French cuisine is stuffy and complex. Think Pasta Pomodoro or Crepevine. “We wanted things to be understandable and uncomplicated. We’re not doing extravagant plating here. We want you to have the food you order from cashier to table in 10 minutes without compromising quality and taste.”

Enter Chef Bienaime. The two met in May through a mutual contact in the restaurant industry. Chef Bienaime spent over seven years at the acclaimed Marche, two of those years heading up the kitchen before it closed earlier this year. So why would his next project involve a casual restaurant that doesn’t even have waiters?

“For me, it’s an opportunity to do something new. There are some very old school menu items like Coq Au Vin that are very difficult to cook quickly. So it was a challenge for me to do something more contemporary with these dishes while maintaining their classic quality. The more I got into it, the more I believed in the concept,” recalls the Chef.

“Marche went through a bunch of phases. It started as a casual concept and got more and more complicated through the years. So when it closed, I had the desire to approach more people with my food,” says Chef Bienaime. “What I love about cooking is how it makes people happy. I’d rather make more people happy than less.”

Despite being open for a relatively short amount of time, the Chef’s confidence in his dishes shows. They’re solidly delicious and are expertly, albeit simply, prepared.

Diners can chose from a variety of side dishes like french fries, sautéed spinach, or buttery peas and carrots. The specialty of the house is their Roasted Chicken, which you can have with a mushroom or mustard cream sauce, or in the style of Coq au Vin. It doesn’t disappoint with its moist meat and buttery flavor. The sauces are rich, distinct, and tasty without overpowering the chicken’s flavor.

Moules

Moules Frites
Moules Frites w/White Wine, Shallots and Herbs

The most popular dish on my multiple visits, however, seemed to be the Moules Frites (Mussels with Fries) with shallots, white wine and herbs. The Chef uses Mediterranean mussels which are bigger, plumper, juicier and sweeter, and were cooked to perfection. There wasn’t a rubbery mussel in the bunch. And the accompanying french fries were perfectly golden crisp and tender inside. This was a straightforward yet wonderfully executed dish.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille

For vegetarians, their Ratatouille is quite good and is served with a simple salad of mixed greens. The buttery Parmesan breadcrumbs on top contrast nicely with the nutty, toasty flavor and the mix of yellow and red bell peppers, various squash and eggplant make for a hearty dish.

“French food isn’t just centered in Paris bistros, so we’ve divided France up into 6 regions. Now people can see the different varieties of food there are in France,” says Raby.

With the restaurant now open and the menu developed, Chef Bienaime doesn’t plan on being in the kitchen on a daily basis. However he’s constantly adjusting the existing menu and plans to add more items for children. In the future, he will serve as culinary consultant and head of operations.

It’s their hope to create multiple locations over the next few years. And in the shorter term, Chef Bienaime is hoping to entertain the idea of having some special 6-course reservation only dinners for about $100 per person on Sundays, since they’re not usually open that day. They’ll also be offering a Family Meal for four people that’ll include a whole roasted chicken, choice of sauce, two sides and a baguette for under $30 that people can take to go.

“Guillaume is about serving fantastic food, I’m about helping to creating the experience,” says Raby. “It’s like Starbucks. There have always been coffeehouses, but Starbucks they worked on the experience. To a certain extent, that’s what I want to do with French food and make it and experience that’s accessible.”

And Chef Bienaime agrees. “I believe more and more in the concept every day.”

Cuisinett
1105 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos
(650) 453-3390
Mon-Sun, 11am-9pm, Lunch & Dinner Service
Dine-in or Takeout available
Facebook: Cuisinett
Twitter: @cuisinett

Cuisinett: French Comfort Food on Urbanspoon

*Cross posted on KQED’s Bay Area Bites.

No Frills Vietnamese Food That Stands Out

Rare Beef Pho Noodle Soup from PPQ

You can take your 4-star rated, celebrity-visited, Michelin-starred Vietnamese restaurants in the city. My most memorable Vietnamese meals have always come from those mom and pop hole-in-the-wall joints.

But my favorite place to get some great pho (noodle soup) or a plate of bun (cold vermicelli plate) is Pho Phu Quoc (or “PPQ” for short).

Located in the heart of the Sunset District in San Francisco on Irving and 19th Avenue, I’ve been coming here since my college days…so it’s been a while. The food has never disappointed me in all that time. Never.

Their soup broth is exceptional. A good bowl of pho noodle soup has to start with a great broth that tastes like those beef bones have been simmering in that liquid all day. Theirs does. They also use Certified Angus Beef, which makes a huge difference. That alone makes the flavor and quality of the food here, stand out.

But aside from that, there are a few dishes here that are exceptional.  I’ve ordered other items, but I always come back to these three.

Shrimp Rolls from PPQ

I love starting with their cold Shrimp Rolls with large poached shrimp, mint and lettuce leaves, vermicelli noodles all wrapped in soft rice paper. I’m usually not a fan of Shrimp Rolls. Most have a dry or rubbery wrapper, wilted greens or soggy shrimp. Their Shrimp Rolls, however, have no evidence of any of these issues. Their cool and soft on the outside the way they should be, and the shrimp and greens give it texture, crunch, and flavor. Love, love, love these.

For entrees, I have a hard time deviating from two dishes, the first being the Crispy Five-Spice Chicken. The boneless chicken thigh is always juicy and tender with a crisp and flavorful deep brown skin. It’s sweet, smokey and just out of this world. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a better version of this dish anywhere, and I mean it.

Curry Chicken Pho from PPQ

But my all time favorite is their Curry Chicken Pho. The broth starts with a homemade chicken broth and then it just gets better. It’s got a creamy coconut milk base and is studded with Southeast Asian curry flavors, lemongrass being the most prominent. There’s tender, flavorful pieces of white meat chicken so juicy and moist, which is literally impossible to do with white meat chicken. Then there are beautifully soft, stewed pieces of potatoes and those chewy vermicelli noodles. This is a dish that is rich and full of depth with all of its spices and flavors. There’s simply no other bowl of noodle soup like it.

Now since it’s a neighborhood joint, there’s no atmosphere or attentive service to speak of. If you’re looking for that, go elsewhere. But if you want a thoroughly solid meal for cheap, you’ve found your place. It’s one of the best cheap eats in the city for the quality of food they put out.

So the next time Bill Clinton comes to town for his favorite Vietnamese meal at that swanky place in San Francisco, I’ll be secure in knowing that I got the better meal…and the better deal.

Pho Phu Quoc on Urbanspoon