the slanted door
I’ve already covered a few eateries in the fabulous Ferry Building, but one which I have yet to mention is The Slanted Door which actually covers the highest percentage of floor space (it has capacity for over 200 covers) and has received the most critical acclaim. Owner and James Beard Award winner Charles Phan and his family run this Modern Vietnamese restaurant as well as three branches of Out the Door (a fast casual version of the original), all of which champion organic produce from the local Bay Area.
On our previous trip we had popped into Slanted Door on a couple of occasions when we craved some spice and acid to refresh our jaded palates. This time around, with all the burgers, fried chicken, and tasting dinners we were doing, we again found ourselves seeking respite there on a sunny afternoon (it is loveliest visiting in the day as the expansive windows offer scenic views of the bay). We started with the California Yellowtail from the raw bar – spanking-fresh fish topped with crispy fried shallots and aromatic Thai basil. The delicate clean flavours made us wish there were more than just four slivers on the plate.
Next was a crunchy Green Papaya salad with Pickled Carrot, Tofu, Rau Ram (Vietnamese coriander) and Roasted Peanuts – vibrant, zesty, lots of great textures and terribly addictive. I particularly liked how finely the papaya had been shaved which made it even more refreshing than the traditional preparation.
Squares of pan-fried Daikon Rice Cakes studded with Shiitake Mushrooms and Shallots were a bit dense and clunky, but very tasty as far as Vegetarian starters go – especially when dunked in the sweet soy-based sauce.
Fresh Spring Rolls were soft, pliable and stuffed with tofu, shitake, cabbage and mint leaves and the accompanying peanut sauce rich, creamy and nicely balanced between sweet and savoury.
Mains were good too. I chose the Grilled Lemongrass Pork Bún with Imperial Rolls, one of my favourites. I doused my plate with nước chấm and got stuck into the glistening strands of rice noodles tossed through with herbs, scallions, salad and fragrant chunks of pork. The deep-fried spring roll was a nice bonus and I greedily munched on the pieces between mouthfuls of bún.
The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the Grilled Range Brothers’ Berkshire Pork Chop with Shallot-Ginger-Soy and Crispy Potatoes which B ordered was amazing. A robust nicely-charred specimen that was juicy and moist with a good layer of fat. The marinade was delicious too and the bowl of rice that B had ordered mopped it all up perfectly. In fact, rice would have made a much more suitable side than the roast new potatoes the porky slab was presented with.
I would have liked something sweet to round off but surprisingly all their desserts were Western offerings (financier, bread pudding, etc.) and I didn’t fancy any of it – would have been nice to see at least a token couple of Vietnamese puds on the menu. In any case our bellies were contently full, so we got the bill and just jumped in the Blue Bottle queue next door to grab a coffee for the road.
A buzzy place with a fantastic waterside location, great food made with fresh ingredients, friendly service and laid-back atmosphere. No doubt we’ll be back again next time we’re in town.
The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3
t. 415 8618032