Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Out the Door
Embarcadero Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA
Review by MaceVindaloo, Diasala, Lizard, SuSu

The Vietnamese restaurant called The Slanted Door is apparently excellent, and the food is a great example of the colonial French fusion, as well as dishes native to Vietnam herself. But try as we did, we couldn't get a table in this very popular eatery. But fortunately, we did not go without. So great is The Slanted Door's popularity that a "hole in the wall" just outside the restaurant allows for people to walk up and order to take-out. Or if you can finagle one of the funny stools at the counter, you can eat quickly.

It's modeled somewhat like an Asian food card — a kitchen with a tiny counter and five stools for "eat in." Most people take away, but if you're determined to eat on location, the Ferry Building has seating and tables indoors and benches outdoors.

We tried a variety of things. The place was very busy, so we had to order decisively or find ourselves having to get online a second time. One of us, when buying lunch on a workday, limits himself to steamed chicken buns, and goes elsewhere for the rest of his meal. So we tried both the chicken and the vegetable buns. Compared to Chinese char sui, or pork and leek buns, both seemed underseasoned, but both were tasty nonetheless. We did not have any of the dipping sauces, and that could have made a real difference.

The mark of any Vietnamese place would be their pho — a beef-based noodle soup with herbs and vegetables. It's called Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup and it has a great broth and half the container is filled with wide rice noodles. A few slices of beef were located on top, and in a separate paper boat are ultra-fresh beansprouts, Thai bail, and a little tube of savory brown soy sauce and spicy Siracha sauces. It made the soup all that it should be: fragrant, spicy, delicious and satisfying.

We also had a Vietnamese pork sandwich — delicious marinated roast pork, sliced and served on a roll over a bed of romaine lettuce, pickled carrots, and Vietnamese cilantro. It was delicious on-site, and the half a sandwich we had leftover was really wonderful the next day.

Finally, we felt compelled to try the day's special: lemongrass short ribs. It was a French-style pot au feau in a dark, delicious sauce, served with broccoli, which was cooked perfectly. The rice was extremely short-grained and a little crunchy without being underdone. The meat fell off the bones and was so flavorful. The sauce was good enough to shove the rice into, for another meal. In fact, the rice soaked up the sauce so well that it didn't trigger airport security that there were liquids in my bag! (Yes, we take our own food onto planes.)

They also have "cook at home kits" which are not the same as heat-and-eat. You get all the ingredients in a biodegradable plastic container, complete with sauces in similar non-landfill containers. These plastics can be placed in your compost, apparently. These kits were featured in "The Secret Life of ..." and host, chef George Duran, pronounced the results to be identical to the "Out the Door" on-site experience. Some of us do live here, and we have been reticent in not trying it out.

We also had Vietnamese coffee — hot, served with sweetened condensed milk. The Hong Kong tea was the same, and both were excellent and reminiscent of great times — or maybe bad times — in Vietnam? It sure is good times in San Francisco, anyway!

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