Friday, July 12, 2013

Generic Name, Generic Menu, But Golden Lotus Debuts with Larkin-Worthy Pho

When last at the corner of Larkin and Willow Streets in the heart of Little Saigon, I had just finished initiating the new Turtle Tower Restaurant location with a bowl of pho ga long and was sidewalk superintending the progress of the venue that would fill the vacuum left at TT's original location, something to be called "Golden Lotus" (and pondering how how many Chinese  or Vietnamese restaurants in the US must bear that name). Today I figured it must be done and returned stick a fork, er, a pair of chopsticks in it.

Golden Lotus opened about a week ago (based on Yelp review-dating techniques).  It's been spiffed up from its closing days as Turtle Tower, and boasts a menu that's almost as generic as its name, with the usual South Vietnam style pho, bun and com dia suspects and the like. I went for the pho dac biet, (essentially the house "with everything" special), a useful benchmark.  Golden Lotus' dac biet includes rib eye steak, well-done flank steak, tripe, beef tendon and beef meatballs in a sweetish broth with fresh rice noodles and a standard condiment dish (bean sprouts, jalapeno slices, basil leaves and lime wedge).  The beef cuts all seemed of good quality and generous quantity, and the add-ins fresh and crisp (props to the jalapeno slices, they were as hot as I've encountered in any pho emporium).  The broth was reasonably complex, though a touch too sweet for my tastes, until rectified with a healthy squeeze of the lime wedge. The one surprise was the noodles: the wide, flat version appears to be the default here, though the skinny ones can probably be requested (with beef pho it's usually the other way around). No complaints came from me on this, since I generally prefer the wide noodles, and they were cooked well, not over- or under-done.

There's nothing apparent to me that sets Golden Lotus apart from other proletarian-priced ($6.15-$7.15 for the "small" and a buck more for the  "large" here) pho joints of the Tenderloin, but by the same token there's nothing there to scare you away.  Base on the house special pho, at any rate, it's a solid new option for dropping in and grabbing a bowl.

Where slurped: Golden Lotus Vietnamese Cuisine, 631 Larkin St., Tenderloin, San Francisco

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