At the Ferry Building Marketpace in San Francisco, which is one of the models for the year-round market that will be coming to Boston, there are numerous places to eat, from small stalls to large restaurants. One of the most popular restaurants is The Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant that also showcases local ingredients.
The restaurant is fairly large, seating over 200 people, and has a sleek, modern flair to it. We were seated at one of their communal tables and I was impressed that the seating was well spaced so that you almost felt as if you had your own table. You did not feel crowded in the least as you do at other restaurants with communal tables. We did not have reservations but got there when the restaurant opened, and there was already a short line to get inside. I would this suggestion reservations if you are dining later, or have a large party.
They have a full bar, with special cocktails, an interesting wine list and plenty of beers as well. I selected a bottle of 2007 Glatzer Blaufrankisch ($30), which was a light bodied wine with flavors of bright cherry, raspberry and hints of blueberry. There was also a spicy undercurrent and a moderately long finish. An easy drinking wine, with lots of flavor, it did not overwhelm any of our food.
The food menu has plenty of choices, including a Raw Bar, Appetizers, Soups, Rolls, Salads, and Entrees, including plenty of veggie dishes. Prices are generally reasonable but note that entree prices range from $18-$34, dependent on what you choose. So, if you are on a budget, you can still eat here, but it is also a place where you can splurge a bit. You should also note that the ingredients are mostly local, and thus may cost a bit more, which seems reflected in the prices of some of the dishes.
I began with the Heger Farm Sweet Corn and Wild Dungeness Crab Soup ($6), a large bowl of very flavorful broth and lots of crabmeat. There was plenty of corn, which did add some sweetness to the soup, and I really enjoyed its savory taste. It was spiced well, with no single flavor overwhelming the others. A nice harmonious blend of deliciousness.
The Crispy Imperial Rolls with shrimp, pork, glass noodles and peanuts ($10) were also very impressive. The crispy exterior was cooked just right, not greasy at all, and the interior ingredients were quite tasty, and seemed very fresh as well. There was a slightly sweet sauce for dipping, and I could have easily eaten a second order of these rolls.
As for entrees (of which I sadly lack photos), the Chicken Claypot with caramel sauce, chilies and fresh ginger ($19) was a delight. Though you might not think the ingredients would pair well together, they made for an excellent combination. The caramel was restrained, more adding some sweetness to offset the heat of the chilies. The chicken was moist, tender and meaty and I finished off every last piece. The Grass-fed Estancia Shaking Beef ($29) consists of cubed filet mignon, Sausalito Springs' watercress, red onions and lime sauce. The tender beef was coated with an intriguing sauce, both complex and flavorful. It reminded me of other Asian beef dishes, except there was an undescribable difference as well.
Service was excellent, and overall I enjoyed my dinner. Though this is a favorite place for tourists, I think the menu is far above what is often considered a touristy restaurant. The menu is certainly different from the usual Vietnamese restaurants you might be used to, but I think it should appeal to most appetites. Plus, I am pleased about their prominent use of local ingredients. Why not give it a try?
The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building, #3
San Francisco, CA