|Pho Bo Dac Biet at Quan Bac|
Settling into a seat at the comfortably appointed Quan Bac at Geary and 5th, I confidently ordered #38, Pho Bo Ngau Pin Dac Biet. "We don't have that today," said the server, steering me to #41, Pho Bo Dac Biet, "combination of well-done, rare beef and beef ball noodle soup." Dac Biet is a term familiar to pho-goers, basically meaning house special, though to me today it meant "hold the ngau pin" and I wondered if they would have had it if I were not Caucasian. To accompany my noodles, I ordered an appetizer Cha Ca Chien, or deep fried fish cake.
I thought both my pho (bull pecker or not) and my fish cakes were excellent. The pho's broth seemed perfectly balanced with no need for adding flavor-enhancing condiments (though I can never resist throwing in all the jalapeno slices), the meats were fresh and tender, and the flat rice noodles done just right. The fish cakes, though described as deep fried, were entirely greaseless and delicately flavored, and I much preferred them to the Thai version I had recently at House of Thai.
Quan Bac is a notch "nicer"in ambience and marginally pricier than the proletarian hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurants in the Tenderloin that occupy a special place in my scheme of things; combining this with Quan Bac's value and authenticity, another question comes to mind: who needs places like The Slanted Door?
Where slurped: Quan Bac, 4112 Geary Boulevard at 5th Street, San Francisco