Sunday, January 18, 2009

Vietnamese in a Shoebox

Fosco took a little break from blogging this weekend. It was nice, but I still thought about all of you--frequently and fondly.

It was an action-packed weekend, with some piratical fun (more on that later), a Rock Band 2 marathon, and an emotional punch in the gut (courtesy of the newest BSG episode). But here's a highlight for you: a new restaurant review!

Yesterday, Fosco and Oz were in the city and decided to have Vietnamese "street food" for lunch. Fosco may have mentioned before that he's head-over-heels for the upscale Vietnamese food in the Bay Area (like the thrillingly precise Slanted Door or the artsy and romantic Tamarine). And that's not to mention the more traditional fanciness of Thanh Long (buttery garlic noodles!). But Oz promised this food would be quite different: simpler, more casual, and much heartier.

And so we went to the oddly named Cordon Bleu Restaurant on Nob Hill. Oz had warned me that the place was tiny, but I was still surprised. There were two tables and one counter with stools--seating for maybe fifteen customers. However, the room is painted a cheery yellow and there are pictures, so it's actually quite pleasant:

All of the cooking is performed behind the counter on a grilltop and a deep fryer:

Look at those Imperial Rolls coming out of the fryer!

The food is essentially a plate lunch. I got the #5 plate: a piece of 5-spice roasted chicken, a shish kebab, rice with meat gravy, cabbage salad, and an imperial roll. It was beautiful:

That's the 5-spice chicken breast at the top. The menu humbly suggests that it's "Possibly the best chicken outside of Vietnam." I think that is possibly right: it was juicy, tender, and deliciously smoky from the spices. The "shish kebab" is on the rice in the middle. It's actually not on a skewer; rather, it's a piece of beef pounded thin, marinated and grilled. The gravy for the rice is tomato based and has ground beef and onions in it--the flavor is reminiscent of Midwestern macaroni goulash (which is not a bad thing). The gravy is Oz's favorite. The imperial roll is mine--it was exceptional, better than any I've had anywhere else. Oh, and you know what makes this even better? My plate cost $6.85. That is a serious deal for some serious food.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, Oz prefers the imperial rolls as well... however, you know he loves his white rice as well, being from Hawaii and all.