SF’s Best Versions of Five Iconic Pan-Asian Dishes
As selected by Food Network star (and SF native) Kathy Fang
Lots of people love won ton soup, pho bo, tea leaf salad, dan tat and chicken tikka masala.
But that doesn’t mean they know where to get the very best versions of those things.
Below, her picks for our town’s superlative takes on five classic dishes from all across the Asian continent.
The beef pho from Pho 2000 in the Tenderloin is the absolute best. It’s the closest thing I’ve had in S.F. in terms of flavor, depth of broth and consistency that you would find in Vietnam. They make their broth and assemble everything right up front so you can see it. It reminds me of the little shops in Asia that serve the most delicious bowls of noodle soups.
Wonton noodle soup
Hon’s Wun Tun is my go to spot. This shop has been there forever, and the same guy makes the dumplings, noodles and soups. I’ve been eating there since I was a young kid and still go there. The noodle soup is assembled up front where you can see the action. Their dumplings are light and float to the top like they should. The skin is smooth, thin and almost translucent which is important. The broth is light and aromatic, but not overpowering, flecked with a few bites of yellow chives. The noodles have the right amount of al dente chewiness that you would get from alkaline noodles. It’s a classic spot!
This Hong Kong-style egg custard is usually seen at dim sum restaurants, but the best ones come from the Chinese bakeries that focus solely on making them fresh daily. Golden Gate Bakery is the king of dan tat in San Francisco. People buy boxes of them to take home. The custard is just the right amount of smooth, soft creaminess and the crust has the perfect amount of buttery flakiness. My parents used to send me on missions there to pick up boxes and boxes of their pastries to give as gifts to relatives during holidays: which meant dan tat for breakfast in our household for the next week.
Tea leaf salad
I absolutely love the tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar. The dressing is well balanced with the fish sauce, herbs, and citrus. The different layers of textures make this salad one of my favs in the city and is the perfect introduction to Burmese cuisine. On a lazy day where we get food delivered, the tea leaf salad is always on the list. It’s my attempt to eat healthy and be lazy at the same time — without sacrificing flavor.
Chicken tikka masala and naan
This is probably the most well-known and -ordered dish from Indian restaurants. For a night in, I find Pakwan to be the best tasting Indian food that you can get delivered. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and chicken tikka masala is always on the items ordered. Their tikka masala has just the right amount of creaminess and thickness to the sauce. The spice level combined with the sweet tang perfect for slopping up with their light, fluffy but slightly chewy naan. This is no-fuss comfort food for me.
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