What can be said about The Slanted Door that hasn’t been covered elsewhere? Probably nothing. We’ve adored this restaurant since first going there about seven years ago shortly after moving to San Francisco from New York. By then, they were already at their “new” location in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Folks around here remember it being elsewhere but to me that’s ancient history.
The food is modern Vietnamese, generally served family style. The restaurant is huge and stunningly beautiful, with lots of simply finished wood, large windows overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge, attractive contemporary artworks, a chic bar and even a stunning bathroom. The staff is handsome though often harried, as the place is completely packed whenever you go there. I’d recommend a reservation.
The last time that we went together was for our wedding reception in 2008. Then we reserved the private room and had about twenty guests. It was amazing. Last week, we were celebrating Hegui’s belated birthday. It was just the two of us.
That day, it was warm and sunny. Since we were a bit early, we explored some of the piers, soaked in the sun and admired the City for a while. It was fun to be mistaken as tourists by the guys in the three wheeled pedicabs.
We had an early reservation at 6:15PM but already the dining room was mobbed. I couldn’t help but overhear the hostess tell a couple that they’d have to wait until 9:45PM to be seated without a reservation. It doesn’t seem like the recession has affected business one iota.
We ordered a bottle of an inexpensive Côtes du Rhône with our meal which turned out to be good. The wine menu is interesting with a lot of unusual wines to choose from. How often do you see an Arbois on a wine list?
We started with a half dozen oysters on the half shell. Our friendly waiter comped us tastes of a California Muscat to go with these, insisting that red simply wouldn’t do. The wine was sweet and did work well with the lemony, briny oysters that came with two kinds of spicy dipping sauce.
We follow this with the green papaya salad and fresh vegetarian spring roll. The salad had shaved green papaya, some carrot and tiny half moons of young celery stalks, shredded tofu skin and crispy browned shallots, tossed in a sweet and sour, spicy and savory vinaigrette. The salad is crunchy and delicious. It reminds Heguiberto of springtime. The spring roll is filled with rice vermicelli with more tofu, some julienned vegetables and mint. It comes with a peanut based dipping sauce that Hegui doctored by adding some chili sauce. Yum!
Next we had the daikon rice cakes. We’re not sure how they’re made but guess that they’re steamed then pan fried. Made of daikon and rice flour in a magical sauce, we devoured them greedily.
For our main course, we shared an order of the caramelized prawns with sides of white rice and broccoli. I think that the prawns are one of their signature dishes. They’re sweet and sour and caramel-y. I’ve always loved these. The broccoli was prepared with little strips of tofu and shimeji mushrooms.
We were too full for dessert. Instead we settled our bill and strolled for a while through the Ferry Building and along the waterfront to digest and feast our other senses on the sights and sounds of San Francisco.