For a whimsical dessert in San Francisco, try the lychee-flavored cotton candy at The Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant. The portion is generous.

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Here’s another view that shows the sheer monstrosity.

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As the server put it down, he said no one finishes it, so of course my partner-in-dine and I took that as a challenge. Luckily with it being lychee-flavored, there was a bit of a tang so it was a lot easier to eat than the traditional, cloyingly sweet cotton candy. Still, our stomachs and teeth were rebelling by the time we finished. But finished we did.

If you get it, best to have more than two people tackle this sugar cloud!

On a separate note, I actually really like Slanted Door as a Vietnamese restaurant. I have only tried a few dishes, but I find the flavor profile pretty authentic – surprising for such a mainstream establishment.

I recommend:

  • Cellophane noodles – green onion, dungeness crab, sesame ($21) [This is really fantastic and tastes so similar to something Mama N whips up!]
  • Grass-fed shaking beef – cubed filet mignon, watercress, red onion, lime sauce ($36)

Another place with even better shaken beef (and also a mainstream restaurant) is Le Colonial, a French-Vietnamese restaurant. The beef is uber tender and flavorful. Le Colonial has locations in NYC, San Francisco and Chicago. I have been to the first two and the dish is fantastic at both. I usually only go to Le Colonial for this menu item. The other stuff is fine, but nothing else has stood out (and the service at the NYC location can be quite slow!).

This traditionally celebratory dish is called Bo Luc Lac in Vietnamese – literally “shaken beef.” The name refers to how a chef shakes the wok/skillet to sear and cook the marinated cubes of meat. The beef is served hot, atop watercress for a peppery bite and the meat slightly wilts the greens. The lime sauce provides balance. It is delicious!

Here’s a great photo from theravenouscouple:

Enjoy!

Emmelle

The Slanted Door – 1 Ferry Building #3; Tel: 415-861-8032; reservations recommended, you can book online via Open Table

Le Colonial San Francisco – 20 Cosmo Place; Tel: 415-931-3600; online reservations on Open Table

Le Colonial New York – 149 East 57th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues; Tel: 212-752-0808; online reservations on Open Table

Le Colonial Chicago – 937 North Rush Street; Tel: 312-255-0088; online reservations on Open Table

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