It's not every day that you get a Vietnamese restaurant with some national acclaim; or that it's right there next to you as you walk along the Bay toward the Ferry Building. So here are some thoughts on the experience:
- The internet tells me that this is the third iteration of the restaurant, and you can tell that this place is pretty successful; not only does it occupy a prime amount of real estate in the aforementioned Ferry Building, but it clearly turns a lot of tables pretty much all day. There's a lot of space in the dining room and it's a nice gussied up. That being said, it does feel a bit... corporate. It's sort of like DBGB at City Center. Pretty... just apersonal.
- That being said there are lots of good things here. I don't know that I had ever had banh bot loc - which is like a tapioca-based version of banh cuon - but these dumplings which came either with mung bean or shrimp and pork belly fillings, were freaking epic. Similarly, some mien - glass noodles - which came with dungeness crab, were a surprise in how light and lively each bite was.
- As for authenticity, I ordered my typical bo luc lac - shaky beef. This was incredibly on point: just the right splashes of salt and pepper, punchy watercress, and the ability to recall fond food memories.
- It's not all perfect though. Spring rolls are huge, but ultimately dry. For another, the price range is up there. And at times, it seems our server was really trying to upcharge us. See the brussels sprouts and mushrooms dish he pushed on us: limp and boring.
Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd
Cost: $$$$ (out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)