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Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Noodles from San Sun -- House of 5,000 Noodles

It's New Year's Day, so I naturally headed out to down some noodles "for long life." Weather was iffy and my stomach was growling, so I hightailed it to a neighborhood standby, San Sun, which I've come to thinking of as the House of 5,000 Noodles. No, San Sun doesn't bill itself as such but I've done the math. I'll explain below.

San Sun is a venerable Hokkien Chinese-Vietnamese-Malaysian family-run restaurant on Stockton Street in Chinatown which specializes in noodle dishes and other one-plate meals. San Sun's colorful, booklet-style menu lists no fewer than 51 noodle soups. There's a choice of 10 different types of noodle for each, and for 50 cents more you can choose to have any two types of noodles in your soup. This makes for 100 different noodle possibilities for each of the 51 toppings, or 5,100 different bowls of soup. Add to that an additional 40 "dry" noodle dishes (chow mein, lo mein, etc.) with a choice from five different noodle types for each, and you begin to see my point.

San Sun's offerings include Chinese-type noodle soups (with Fujian influences showing clearly in some), Vietnamese Pho, and satay noodle soups (the Malaysian in the family making her influence felt). The house-made satay sauce, incidentally, is so good that it's sold by the bottle by popular demand. For good measure, you can also find a Cambodian-style rice noodle soup and a Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup on the menu, as well as noodle-less soups, congee, rice plates and various house specialties, including an oyster pancake.

For my noodles du jour, I decided to short-circuit the decision making process and honor New Year's Day with the cleanest, lighest option I could think of, the Pho Ga (chicken) with thin rice noodles rather than the heavier wide "ho fun" noodles (and no, I was not hung over). The slight sweetness of the delicately-flavored broth was easily tempered by a squeeze of lime from the condiment dish, and a few slices of jalapeno pepper added all the oomph it needed. The noodles were slightly springy, and the shards of chicken breasts tasted fresh. The Pho Ga at San Sun was the perfect refreshing tonic to start the new year with, and I immediately resolved to return soon for some meatier, satay-laden choices.

Where slurped: San Sun Restaurant, 941 Stockton St., San Francisco*

*San Sun will be mMoving to 848 Washington St. (the former Great Oriental space) "in early 2011," displaced by the upcoming Muni Chinatown Subway construction.

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