As it turns out, I ended up postponing my food exploration to non-touristy areas in San Francisco to my last few weeks in the Bay Area. After my finals, I got the chance to explore some Vietnamese / Thai food in Tenderloin as well as some popular eateries at Richmond / Sunset.
I have always heard things about Tenderloin – about how I should avoid accidentally walking into Tenderloin, especially in the evenings, because of safety reasons. After finding out that Little Saigon was in Tenderloin, I simply thought to myself that I had to check out this place at least once. I have also never had banh mi before so I thought, why not? My friend and I went to Saigon Sandwich, a small place where you can supposedly find the best banh mi in San Francisco.
Roast Pork Banh Mi @ Saigon Sandwich, Tenderloin, SF
This is evidently a go-to lunch place for a lot of people working in the area. I’m not surprised, considering how you only need to spend $3.75 to fill yourself up – a steal in the city. My friend and I shared a roast pork banh mi and it was really delicious. I liked the baguette, the crunchy carrots and not to mention their sauce! Unfortunately, our eating experience was interrupted by a scary looking homeless person who kept knocking on the glass window we were sitting by. He was quite relentless and I was honestly scared but after awhile he left to bother some other customers waiting in line…
We then hopped to a Thai restaurant that Felicia absolutely loves called Zen Yai Thai. She had been evangelizing their mini boat noodles and after trying them, I don’t blame here for it. Their tom yum broth was pretty amazing and I also really enjoyed the broth in the our second boat noodle, which supposedly is made from curdled blood.
Tom Yum Boat Noodle @ Zen Yai Thai, Tenderloin, SF
Beef (or Pork?) Boat Noodle @ Zen Yai Thai, Tenderloin, SF
Excellent broth and noodles for $2.50 each and as Felicia recommended, get many different combos of boat noodles to share with your friends.
I got to try more Chinese food in the Richmond and Sunset area – more notably, Shanghai Dumpling King and San Tung Chicken Restaurant. Shanghai Dumpling King is kind of known for their xiao long baos (soup dumplings) but unfortunately it fell short of my expectations. I was initially a little put off by how red and raw the meat filling looked but it ended up tasting fine. However, I thought it didn’t have very much soup at all. Perhaps I was unlucky enough to get a mediocre batch of xiao long baos.
San Tung Chicken Restaurant, on the contrary, lived up to my expectations. My friends and I had their shrimp and leek dumplings, sauteed Chinese long beans, and of course, their popular dry fried chicken wings. All of them were really great but too bad I was too hungry to even remember to take pictures before we devoured the food.