Curbside Coffee – San Francisco

Curbside Coffee Truck

Rated: ♣♣♣♣♣

Wow, this place is dangerous. I discovered Curbside Coffee at the end of last week and I’ve already been back 4 times.

This little coffee truck on the corner of Spear and Folsom makes the BEST Vietnamese coffee I’ve ever had. I used to make Vietnamese coffee, and it never tasted this good. When I go out for pho, I usually order a Vietnamese coffee or a Thai Iced Tea, and they always taste the same. I did not realized how amazing Vietnamese coffee could taste until I took my first sip at Curbside Coffee. It blew my mind. It has the perfect balance of the strong coffee flavor, creamy condensed milk and sweet simple syrup. So good, I already have plans with my marketing team to get some later today!

Curbside Vietnamese Coffee

To top it off, their staff is very friendly. One visit, I came by and promised them I would be back a half hour later with a few other people. And, they made an extra batch of the coffee just for us! We were even able to try their morning bun and a bran muffin. My coworker snatched the morning bun before I got to try, but I really enjoyed the bran muffin. Moist, soft and slightly sweet. It was a tasty afternoon snack without the guilt.

Curbside Bran Muffin

I can’t wait to come back!

Curbside Coffee
Spear & Folsom
San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA

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Spice Kit – San Francisco

Spice Kit Wrap

Rated: ♣

I’ve been on the hunt for some good, cheap lunch spots near my office and I came across Spice Kit a few blocks away. Spice Kit is a Vietnamese-Korean-Chinese fusion restaurant serving items such as 5-spice chicken Vietnamese sandwiches, kimchi-filled burrito-sized spring rolls, and mini Chinese sandwiches (like those at Chairman Bao). The restaurant suffers from a slight case of identity crisis, and unfortunately, does not execute well.

Twice, I’ve had the spring rolls. These massive rolls can be filled with your choice of meat (5-spice chicken, beef shortribs, roasted pork or vegetables) with kimchi, lettuce, rice, bean sprouts and a special sauce. The rolls have somewhat of a sour taste – not from the kimchi but from the rice paper wraps. Also, the rolls are so large, it’s hard to eat them quickly which leads to cracking in the rice paper wraps. Towards the end of my spring roll, I was struggling to keep everything together. The most disappointing part of the spring roll was the lack of peanut sauce. I asked the server if he had any peanut sauce, and he said they don’t offer it. Instead, they have bottles of Sriracha sauce for dipping. Seriously! People order spring rolls for the peanut sauce! At least, I do. So unsatisfying…

All-in-all, I was pretty disappointed with Spice Kit. I’ll continue trotting over to Out the Door in the Ferry Building for my spring roll fix.

Spice Kit
405 Howard St
(between Fremont St & 1st St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA

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Turtle Tower – San Francisco

Turtle Tower Chicken Pho

Turtle Tower
631 Larkin St
(between Eddy St & Ellis St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin

Rated: ♣♣

I tried the famed chicken pho at Turtle Tower, and I was shockingly unimpressed. It’s just not the pho I’m used to. I prefer the typical kind of pho with the thin chewy noodles. This kind of pho used fat rice noodles, similar to those in Chinese noodle soups. Also, the load of green onions and cilantro over powered the dish. A big turnoff. The spring rolls filled with vermicelli noodles, shrimp, chicken, mint and lettuce were fresh and tasty. But, I’d say Out the Door’s spring rolls are a little bit better because they’re bigger and they use a special sauce in the wrap. In conclusion, I don’t think I’ll come back to Turtle Tower when I’m craving pho.

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Out The Door – San Francisco

Out The Door 5 Spice Chicken SandwichOut The Door
1 Ferry Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94111

Rated: ♣♣♣

Yeah, this place is good. But, it comes with a hefty price tag. You can get Vietnamese food equally this great and pay half the price outside of the city, SF’s Saigon Sandwich even. I went to school in San Jose, and I’m use to $5 bowls of pho and $3.50 Vietnamese sandwiches. Boy, was I spoiled. Because of convenience, I am now paying $7.50 for spring rolls and $8.50 for a Vietnamese sandwich.

The scene:

Out The Door is the take-out version of the very famous, Slanted Door. I’ve never had the opportunity to dine here, but OTD is a good, safe introduction to Vietnamese food. What sets this place apart from other Vietnamese restaurants are their unique menu options. In addition to the usual pho, sandwiches and vermicelli bowls, they have more Chinese-inspired dishes like porridge and buns.

This place gets super busy, so come early if you’re in a rush.

The food:

Spring rolls – I love these spring rolls, especially because there are no bean sprouts. The rolls also have the best balance of ingredients – large pieces of cooked shrimp, tons of noodles, few shreds of mint leaves and a chewy wrapper. I also think there’s some kind of sauce in here, but I can’t pinpoint what it is. Best part of the dish is the peanut sauce. It needs a little kick, but it’s still yummy.

5-spice chicken sandwich – The chicken is flavorful,  juicy and perfectly cooked. The sandwich is loaded with pickled veggies and the special white sauce that’s traditionally in other Vietnamese sandwiches. I also love that they have little containers of jalapenos so I can add as many as I want in my sandwich.

I love this place, partly because there’s barely any good Vietnamese options in this area other than Sai’s (but it’s a hike). But, I’m going to give OTD 3 clubs just because of the price.

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Lee’s Sandwiches – San Francisco

Lees Sandwiches BBQ Pork and PateLee’s Sandwiches
625 Larkin St
(between Eddy St & Willow St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

I’ve had my share of Lee’s Sandwiches when I went to school in San Jose, Ca. Their only SF location happens to be situated directly across the best Vietnamese sandwich shop in the Bay Area, Saigon Sandwich. If the line at Saigon Sandwich is too long, Lee’s is a great alternative. But, don’t mistake this sandwich shop with Lee’s Deli, the sub-satisfactory American sandwich chain.

The scene:

Lee’s has more than 20 different kinds of sandwiches ranging from BBQ pork to paté, each costing about $4. If you’re in the mood for sweets, you could try any of the baked goods, the Vietnamese waffles or one of the glutenous rice rolls.

The restaurant is much bigger than Saigon Sandwich, and it has a seating area – a big plus for workers in the area who, like myself, avoid eating at their desks. I actually had this very sandwich (pictured above) at the movie theater while watching Eclipse… a perfect combination.

The food:

Lee’s sandwiches are different than other kinds of Vietnamese sandwiches. Rather than the round sandwich roll, Lee’s uses a long chewy baguette. Though, the consistency of the bread is the same as other Vietnamese sandwiches. A traditional Vietnamese sandwich contains meat, daikon radishes, carrots, cilantro and jalapenos. I ALWAYS ask for extra jalapenos. Yum.

BBQ pork and paté sandwich – In my opinion, this is the best combination of meats. You’ll find the first bite to be orgasmic. The sweetness from the BBQ pork (think Chinese BBQ pork) and the smooth, richness from the patémarry together as a match made in heaven. Really, there’s nothing better. And, this goes for all Vietnamese sandwiches, not just at Lee’s.

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