Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bong Su : San Francisco

Bong Su was another restaurant I tried with a friend for San Francisco's Dine About Town week. Bong Su is a Vietnamese fusion place, with fairly modern sleek decor and hostesses/waitresses, who were attractive enough for me to notice and take note here.

Now, I generally have low expectations for fusion places, as they often attempt to rely on their "exoticism" to distract from their conservative ingredient choices and mediocre cooking. But I must admit to being very pleasantly surprised by Bong Su. While it wasn't anywhere close to masterful in either domain, the dishes were consistently solid and veered more towards the Western influence than the Asian.

I think partially what made the dining experience nice was the personal service. We ended up sitting at the bar and were tended to by an older gentleman bartender, who was bored out of his mind for lack of people to serve (this was a slow Tuesday night). Hopefully this should dispel any notions that my opinion was somehow influenced by the womenly guile of the waitresses. :P

We opted for one order of the tasting menu and had him recommend another set of dishes. For appetizers, we ended up getting:

Duck Mustard Wraps - shredded five spice duck, mango & cucumber wrapped in mustard leaves - The mustard leaves didn't do much for me, but overall, the duck & mango/cucumber was a nice combination of textures and tastes.

Kobe Beef - While pretty tasty and nicely cooked, I remember seeing this plate of a few very thinly sliced beef pieces and thinking that we'd be hungry after eating.

For entrees, we got the:
Kurobota Pork Prime Rib - Pan roasted prime glazed w/ a tangy tomato garlic sauce & sautéed Napa cabbage. The bartender was a big fan of this dish. The meat was superb, extremely tender and dripping off the bone. The accompanying tomato garlic sauce and cabbage was more surprising than anything. It really was just plain unseasoned tomatos and cabbage, which I think might rub some the wrong way, seeing as how you're paying for something you could very easily cook at home, but which I was okay with. (Hey, at least it wasn't some sort of Asianified crap)

Embarassingly, my memory is fading on what our other, Dine about town, entree was. I'm fairly certain it was a fish, but I do recall liking it (though not quite as much as the rib).

Finally for desserts, we had the:
Jasmine Rice Pudding - vanilla bean & jasmine rice pudding, sweetened red bean & diced mango - very delightful, light and not overly sweet.

Coconut Panna Cotta - kaffir lime pineapple granite w/ mint & passion fruit reduction - I also rather liked this. The sweeter Citrus and fruit flavor paired interestingly with the more prickly coconut texture and taste.

In addition, the bartender let us try out some Hungarian dessert wine, called Royal Tokaji. That was some rather lovely stuff, like a mellower plum wine, with a fairly strong pear flavor.

All in all, I'd give this place a thumbs up. My concerns with portion size were somewhat abated. We came out satiated, but not full. I don't think this place deserves rave reviews, but it certainly has some solid, more Western leaning flavored food.

Lastly, I should note that it was a bit tough to find parking; after hunting around for 15 minutes, my friend ended up parking in the all-day lot next door. (This is in start contrast to my experience with Jack Falstaff a few blocks down.)

Bong Su
311 Third St. (Corner of Folsom St)
San Francisco, CA 94107

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