Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Slanted Door And More

Guitar Man at SausalitoI have been wanting to eat at this acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant for a while now. The catch was that finding a table here without an advance reservation is next to impossible. Today - the 3rd of May - I had woken up feeling lucky and wanted to give it another try; it was my birthday after all!

I was away from family and friends this birthday, but the constant stream of phone calls, text messages, email and Facebook/Orkut posts from around the world did make me feel special. I left my hotel room at about 10:30AM and took a taxi to the Ferry Building. Being a Saturday, the mood was festive here, with the Weekend Farmer's Market in full swing - makeshift tents with local farmers selling greens, vegetabls, olive oil, breads, flowers and mushrooms among other things. There were singers and musicians with their impromptu performances on the sidewalks. The morning air was crisp and clean and the sun shone brightly. It was going to be a great day!

Imperial Rolls at Slanted DoorSlanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant located within the main Ferry Building towards the piers. I joined others waiting for the restaurant to open at 11AM. Even then, they were able to only sit me at their communal table, which was actually a good thing, than having to eat alone. I ordered their much talked about Crispy Imperial Rolls followed by Niman Ranch Shaking Beef. The imperial rolls are stuffed with shrimp and pork and served with glass noodles and crushed peanuts along with some salad greens. The portions were larger than I had expected. The rolls were very good and the dip perfectly complimented it!

Shaking Beef at Slanted DoorThe Shaking Beef was cubed filet mignon sauteed with garlic, watercrest and red onions in a soy vinaigrette and accompanied by a pepper and lime juice dipping sauce. The meat was a little chewy, but very tasty. I relished it with a bowl of brown rice on the side. This dish is very popular here and lived up to its reputation too! Shaking beef is a classic Vietnamese preparation, and Chef Charles Phan is considered quite an expert (New York Times article).

Dessert at Slanted DoorAs is usual, I had to try their dessert too. My waiter recommended the very exotic sounding Coconut Ginger Ice-cream Sandwich. This dessert had a coconut dacquoise with frozen coconut ice-cream and a kumquat compote. The ice-cream was sandwiched between the cruncy layers of the dacquoise, and was a treat to eat. The tangy taste of kumquot also went well with the dessert. Absolutely delicious and highly recommended!

Slanted DoorAs I walked out of Slanted Door, I realized the ferry to Sausalito was leaving in five minutes. On a whim, I bought myself a return ticket and jumped on the ferry. The 30 minute journey to Sausalito was wonderful, especially because it was a sunny morning and the view was fantastic. The boats in the Bay, the massive Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate catching the sunlight in the distance, and the quaint little houses on the Sausalito coast all made for a picture-perfect setting. Interestingly, we also had a rare whale sighting close to the coast!

After reaching, I strolled the streets nearby checking out the many art exhibitions and curio shops. It was time to take the ferry back to San Francisco and walk back to my hotel. As I passed by the Sony Metreon, I realized Iron Man was playing and decided to catch the show. In the gardens nearby, there was a band playing and people lazily watched the show as they basked in the warmth of the sun on the lawns.

The day ended for me with dinner at Osha, which is fast becoming the default dining place for me whenever I am here. I have always loved Thai food, and their curries are nice and spicy, the portions large, and their ginger-infused cream brulee is absolutely fantastic!

Here is a slide-show of the San Francisco coastline from the Ferry, the Bay and the weekend Farmer's market at the Ferry Building. And yes, that is indeed a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the background in one of these pictures.

17 comments:

shalz said...

Ice cream sandwich looks yummy!

and of course the slide show looks cool! :-)

I'm glad u had a nice time on your birthday.

indicaspecies said...

Belated birthday greetings. Mouth-watering post. I had some Vietnemese food while in Cambodia and it was yummy!

backpakker said...

You seem to have had a great treat on your birthday..belated wishes.

Lakshmi

Shantanu said...

@shalz: Thank you, thank you! :-D

@indicaspecies: Cool! Never been to Cambodia...

@backpakker: As good as it could be, given that I was far away from my family!

beaverboosh said...

Happy Birthday S! Glad you got to spend it a The Slanted Door, it is a favy of ours!

Zhu said...

Happy birthday!

We have a lot of Vietnamese restaurants in Ottawa, although not as fancy. But I learned to love the food... I just went last night again!

Shantanu said...

@beaverboosh, zhu: Thank you!

Deepti said...

What an awesome way to bring in a brand new year ...really belated birthday wishes ...

Shantanu said...

@deepti: Thank you, Deepti!

Smita said...

Sheesh! such a cutie with those green goggs, such colourful, interesting people we have in this world :)

Smita said...

And belated birthday wishes - a lovely year and more travelling to you... :)

Shantanu said...

@smita: Thank you! Yeah, that certainly made for an interesting picture.

Lakshmi Mareddy said...

Shantanu, Very bad of me, but a very very belated Happy Birthday.. My son's bday i son May 12th.. Your food obsession is now explained... Earthy taurean et al..

Shantanu said...

@lakshmi: Thank you very much! Ha, ha, I guess that's correct.

Vamsee said...

Your post makes me feel very nostalgic. We lived in the SF bay area for the last 8 years until we moved back in May. Slanted door is undoubtedly the best Vietnamese restaurant ever. I will forward your blog to my friends there and have them try the Thai place you rave about.

Shantanu said...

@Vamsee: The SF Bay area is one of the best places for a foodie. BTW, Bong Su in this area is also another fantastic place for Vietnamese food.

Birthday Greetings said...

Mmm. The food looks delicious--especially the ice cream sandwiches