Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Peek Inside The New Turtle Tower Kitchen

The new Turtle Tower Kitchen is four times as large as the old one.

Thanks to an event organized by new Bay Area startup Simmr, thirty noodleheads were privileged to be given a peek into the workings of the kitchen of Turtle Tower Restaurant at its new flagship facility.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Chef/owner Steven Nghia Pham's restaurant is considered to San Francisco's premier pho restaurant, featuring Northern Vietnam-style pho and justly renowned for its pho ga (chicken pho).  Earlier this year, Turtle Tower closed its cramped facilities at 631 Larkin St. in the City's Little Saigon area and moved, after an extensive renovation, to a larger facility up the street at 645 Larkin St. Turtle Tower boasts three other locations in San Francisco and one in Beijing, but Larkin Street is where Chef Steven can be found manning the stoves.

After being served drinks of our choice and appetizers of chả mực (deep fried cuttle fish patty) and gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls) we were given a "chalk talk" by Chef Steven on his background and philosophy, then led through the kitchen, table by table, to observe implements, ingredients, and procedures. At the end of our kitchen tour we were given order forms to create our DIY bowl of pho, choosing broths, primary meats, and other add-ins.  Since I order chicken pho on almost every visit to Turtle Tower, I went against the grain and ordered pho tai chin, with rare and well done beef flank.

Chef Steven regaling a rapt audience.

Chicken pho stock, ready to take wing.

Some pho ga add-ins.  TT uses only free-range chickens.

Noodles being drained.  TT goes through 500 lbs of noodles a day.

Chef Steven slicing rare beef (I like to think it's for my bowl)

My rare beef pho

The Food Hoe herself
I was pleased to have my table shared by blogger FoodHoe (Sandy). I think we found each other because we were the only two guests who are, shall we say, of an age that makes us eligible to run for President.

Thanks again to the energetic women from Simmr for organizing, and to the Turtle Tower family for hosting this event.

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