Restaurant: Slanted Door
Last visited: November 6, 2010
Location: San Francisco, California (Financial District)
Address: 1 Ferry Building #3
Price Range: $30-50USD, $50USD+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3 (from couple things I tried)
Service: 3 (at the bar)
- Phan family owned
- Voted San Fran’s “Best”
- Contemporary Vietnamese cuisine
- Vietnamese/Asian fusion
- Popular to locals/tourists
- Local ingredients
- Great for wine/cocktails
- Fine dining Vietnamese
- Ritzy atmosphere
- reservations recommended for dinner
- Patio seating
- Waterfront view
- Lunch and Dinner: Monday-Sunday
- Lunch: 11:00am – 2:30pm
- Dinner Mon-Thurs: 5:30pm – 10:00pm Fri-Sat 5:30pm – 10:30pm
**Recommendations: I don’t have any, because I didn’t try much. The signature items are Slanted Door Spring Rolls, Green Papaya Salad, Shaking Beef, Wood-oven roasted whole fish, and Sugar snap peas.
The Slanted Door is one of San Francisco’s most popular and famous restaurants. It specializes in contemporary Vietnamese and Asian fusion cuisine in a posh and modern atmosphere. When Sherman told me about the Slanted Door hype, my curiosity got the best of me. We were both in San Francisco for the 2010 Foodbuzz Food Blogger Food Festival and we decided to squeeze into the Slanted Door for a little afternoon tea time.
Since we are both Vancouver food bloggers we’re both quite familiar with Vietnamese food, Asian fusion food, and contemporary Asian food etc. We have quite the scene for this sort of thing and it reminded me of places in Vancouver like Terracotta Modern Chinese and Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, except the fine dining version. To be honest, this type of food isn’t really my thing, but I can appreciate it for what it is if the food is good and the value is there.
We sat at the bar for some drinks and a couple of their signature appetizers, which were the only items available for their midday lounge and afternoon tea. I appreciate the ambiance and waterfront view, but it’s something you’re definitely paying for. From an Asian perspective the food I tried was overpriced Vietnamese food although it was still tasty. However it was nothing out of the ordinary especially if you’re familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. It was almost like the Chau Kitchen + Bar (Vancouver, BC) of San Francisco, but even to a higher level.
If you want to try a few of their signature items and you don’t care for atmosphere, then just go to their Out the Door to-go counter located right next to Slanted Door. It’s their take-out place and everything is a couple dollars cheaper, although the menu is limited to the casual items. I am still curious to make a bigger dent in their menu, but I’m also not anticipating my next time there.
On the table:
- Huckleberry mint cooler, organic huckleberry, peppermint tea, lemonade $5USD
- I started off with a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated girly drink.
- It’s almost like a berry pink lemonade but sweeter more than it is tangy. I was expecting it to be made with 100% fresh fruit berry puree with actual berries and leaves in it.
- It was refreshing and cooling and I could taste the mint in it, but not really the tea part.
- I finished it in about 8 big sips, it was mostly ice… just like iced drinks at Starbucks.
Agricole Rhum Punch Cocktail – 1.5/6
- La Favorite rhum agricole ambre, lime, cane syrup, with dashes of Angostura and allspice dram, dusted with nutmeg; served on the rocks $11USD
- This was Sherman’s drink which was a very manly drink. It’s totally not for me so I’m biased.
- It was hard, and strong and a bit bitter and tart with a little bit of heat from warm cinnamon like spices.
- Green papaya with tofu, rau ram and roasted peanuts $11USD
- Yes it was quite pricey, but I actually would pay for it again. I love this salad and I have ordered it occasionally, but I enjoyed this version the best.
- It was beautifully executed and it had a ton of fresh ingredients.
- It’s a crunchy salad made with shredded green papaya, firm tofu, pickled cucumber and carrots, celery, jicama root topped with crispy fried garlic chips and toasted peanuts.
- It’s very refreshing and light without being too tiresome to chew. It’s savoury, but also nutty and pickled in taste and the dressing added a sweetness since the papaya is relatively neutral in flavour and not sweet for it being a fruit.
- The dressing was a classic sweetened fish sauce which is savoury, tangy and delicious, but this one was on the sweeter side. It’s not necessarily fishy tasting, but just deliciously savoury. I could have even used more fish sauce and even some Thai basil leaves for more aromatics.
The peanuts were crumbly and coated in a powder coating before they were deep fried and I which they were whole and roasted instead for a nuttier taste.
Slanted Door Spring Rolls – 3/6
- Slanted door spring rolls with shrimp, pork, mint and peanut sauce $9USD
- Most people would say this is the most famous thing to try. I would recommend trying it at Out the Door since it’s the most overpriced Vietnamese salad roll I’ve tried to date.
- Yes it was tasty, well made and executed, but I could literally find the same thing at any good Vietnamese place for $3-5.
- The fresh salad roll was standard, tightly rolled and fresh, but I could have used more pork, although the one slice was tender.
The house made peanut sauce was the only different thing and it tasted more like a sweet and savoury sesame sauce to me with a little Hoisin sauce and some fish sauce. I did like this sauce and it was different than your standard sauce from most Vietnamese restaurants.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls – 3.5/6
- Vegetarian spring rolls with tofu, shiitakes, cabbage, mint and peanut sauce $9USD
- This is funny. I actually commented on the Vegetarian Spring Rolls the couple beside me ordered. I didn’t ask, but the guy insisted us to try them since they were full and not eating the rest. I wasn’t embarrassed to accept the offer, but I think Sherman was lol.
- I actually liked this one better than the Slanted Door Spring Rolls since it was different and something I’m less likely to find at any other Vietnamese restaurants.
- It was crunchy from the jicama root and I liked the slight sweetness from the shiitake mushrooms with the aromatic mint and I felt like in had more ingredients rather than just plain vermicelli noodles like the Slanted Door Spring Rolls. These Vegetarian Spring Rolls were more flavourful.
- The peanut sauce was also different from the Slanted Door Spring Roll peanut sauce. It’s still sweet and savoury, but it was thicker and much tangier with a slight heat at the end, without actually being spicy. I have a feeling they still use fish sauce in it, but it’s vegetarian, so I hope they don’t.
You know what, I’ve been there before! During one of the weekends that I stayed in San Fran after working the week in nearby Cupertino. I found that Slanted Door seemed a bit overhyped for what it was – I would prefer the Vietnamese food in Vancouver any day (even the fusion kind)!
Aren’t we lucky that we can eat some of the best Asian food in the world in Vancouver…and at reasonable prices. Eating elsewhere confirms that our Asian scene can be as good or better than anywhere. The vegetarian roll seems to be a take off on a nigri roll; the salad looks refreshing, but the Slanted Door spring rolls don’t have enuff shrimp and pork… too much rice; especially at that price. Don’t notice a lot of asians eating there.
yup you are so right. I was looking forward to eating at this place after reading up on all the stellar reviews, but like you said it’s more just ‘overpriced’ viet food. These SF bloggers need to come check out the van food scene!lol
oh yeh, and this place got a michelin star?!
It did not get a Michelin star. It got a bib gourmand. Also, 60% of this place is the wine list, which is one of the coolest in SF – specializing in Austrian and German wines. I agree the food is expensive for the quality, but it is still quite good (I don’t think you ordered that well compared to the food I had), though it won’t satisfy a hardcore asia-phile. Of course, at what Asian restaurant can you get 12 year old rieslings from Austria and Germany from small producers and for reasonable prices? Pretty much none.
@Victoria – Of really?! Did you try the mains? I agree with the over hype, although I haven’t tried their mains yet.
@Bow – It’s interesting because San Fran prides themselves on their Asian cuisine as well. I didn’t make enough of a dent to compare but I am VERY thankful for Vancouver’s Asian dining scene.
@vivian – WHAT?!? This place got a michelin star?! Did you try the mains as well? Unless the mains are to die for, I didn’t really see anything special from the appies.
@shea – thanks for the info Shea! Good to know it’s a spot for wine enthusiasts. Yup, I agree with you that the food is expensive for the quality, but I thought it was still good as well. But again like I said I didn’t get to try the mains since I was only there for midday tea… I couldn’t have ordered the mains even if I wanted to. I really appreciate your comment and if you could suggest some Slanted Door mains for Follow Me Foodie readers that would be great!
Ohhhhhhh… As I mentioned while we were in San Fran, I can have a field day bashing their concept! 😀
I am not sure where the “Vietnamese” part of the menu comes in – not even the “fusion” part. Aside from some of the appetizers, a lot of the entrees are almost regular type dishes which can fall under the guise of Asian by adding some Asian ingredients (bok choy, soy sauce, et al). And, at that listed price??? Basically, it is a gwai lo type place! Oh, that sort of confirms a bit of my thoughts about Michelin stars or Zagat rated! 😉
The other famous (though slightly lesser known) upscale Vietnamese restaurants there are Le Cheval, and Le Colonial. Both with large winelists, “European” service, and stylish food. I have been to all three and all have left me wanting my favourite holes-in-the-wall back home. SF does have its share mid and lower-scale Vietnamese joints – Pagolac, Bodega Bistro, Turtle Tower, etc. In that range, Vancouver’s Vietnamese compares very favourably (I dare say we have it better here.)
Our Vietnamese food does not hold a candle to LA’s (actually the ‘burbs) however, where the huge community there supports, many regional, and specialty Vietnamese joints.
Shea, I would go just for the 12 yr. old rieslings. By the way, try Pffafenheim Pinot Gris(Alsace) with asian food it’s reasonably priced at $20 and it’s fabulous. Also Villa Marie Riesling from New Zealand(and Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Kim Crawford Sauv. Blanc.,etc.,etc.)
@KimHo The Vietnamese part was the salad spring rolls… ? But the whole thing is fusion! The Green Papaya Salad is Thai and I had something similar by my Vietnamese friend’s mom who made it for me. And Kim – is it fair to judge a place based one 2-4 examples? Can you really “confirm” your theory that “Zagat Rated” “Michelin Stars” are not trustworthy?! I don’t disagree entirely with your comment, but it’s SO black and white.
@fmed You seem like you know your Vietnamese food! Thanks for all the comparisons! Where do you go in Vancouver?
@Bow As usual, thank you for your recs! Are you a chef?
My “go to” place is Song Huong (mainly because it is close by to my home….but also because they are good. Have you had their Bo 7 Mon?). The proprietors are from the Hue region so try some of the Hue specialties – their bun bo Hue in particular.
I like the pho ga at My Chau. Order the noodle soup plain and get a side of the fried chicken legs. Their other dishes are good too, but the pho ga is the dish that beckons.
Another one in my regular rotation is Le Do. Great pho. Try their special salad roll.
For Northern Vietnamese – the only place that does this cuisine justice is Truong Tranh. Try their banh cuon, xoi, and xoi thit.
Others on the list Cuu Cong (Long), Pho Quyen. Those are a little out of my way so I rarely make it out to them.