Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Out The Door @ Bush St, San Francisco

Sticky Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf 

I don't know why it is, but whenever we're in SF, we end up eating mostly Asian food; whether it's Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese or Thai, (and Indian on a special occasion) it's the go-to cuisine.  Maybe because it's so much more prevalent there, or I just go crazy as soon as I'm transplanted back into an urban setting...

It was heartbreaking when the Westfield location closed down...yes, it was inside a mall...yes it was located adjacent to the Food Court...yes it's soooo touristy....BUT WE DIDN'T CARE!!! It was totally convenient for us, (The Ferry Terminal is cool, but sometimes, you don't want to trek all the way to The Slanted Door near the whipping winds and cold damp waterfront...) the environment is always casual and easy going...and you can go to Bearded Papas out in the Food Court for a Cream Puff afterwards! It's the simple things that are the best...

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But enough griping, until they finish the higher end restaurant on the upper floor, we don't have much choice, but since we had never been to the location on Bush Street, we decided that we would venture out of our tourist bubble...(hovel...whatever...)

Located in Pacific Heights, Out The Door is the third venue of the OTD brands and is a tribute the original Slanted Door on Valencia Street.  The nearest intersection is Fillmore, a chic, trendy street that houses some of the on-point boutique stores in the city, on a hill no less....

As is evident in the pictures; the building and architectural interior is modern minimalism, a clear departure from your classic, slightly patronizing, Asian-esque interiors that's been bastardized and conceived in every iteration-to the point of comical.  Most of Charles Phan's restaurants depart from this tired approach, focussing on the essence of design with simple clean line and little adornment...I will say tho, the bent sheet metal banquette is a little cold....

                                                               Interior Shots

Menu Roundup:

Drinks:         Blenheim Ginger Ale
                    Lychee Infused Iced Tea
Appetizers:  Crispy Imperial Rolls
                    Lotus Sticky Rice
Mains:         Mary's Organic Claypot Chicken
                    Banh Mi

It's always a tradition that we order the Blenheim Ginger Ale at Out The Door - the biting sharpness of ginger effervescence provides the liquid balance to the heavy, addictive, flavor saturated dishes we love!

Crispy Imperial Rolls (Cha Gio) with Rice Vermicelli Noodles, Mint and Peanuts
It's always good to start off a Southeast Asian meal with some rolls...and to treat ourselves, we got the fried version: Crispy Imperial Rolls with Shrimp and Pork! It's a ceremonial process, you take the Lettuce Leaf, place some Vermicelli Noodles and the roll on top wrap it up and dip it into the Fish Sauce and let the flavors fill your mouth with abundance...The fresh leafy vegetable crunch contrasts with crunch of the fried roll beautifully, along with the savory Pork and Shrimp with the tangy Fish Sauce, it's a scrumptious appetizer that will please any appetite.

Lotus Sticky Rice with Mushrooms, Taro, Jicama, Sesame, Soy, and Crispy Shallots

As we had just posted our review for Kirin Restaurant last week, the Dim Sum was still fresh in our minds, so when we saw it on the menu, it had to be ordered.  Definitely distinct, the Sticky Rice soaks up the fragrance of the Lotus leaf, and with an all vegetable cast, it had a lightness to it that you normally don't get, and then with the Crispy Shallots and scallions on top, it added a Southeast Asian flair.

Mary’s Organic Claypot Chicken with Ginger, Thai Chilies and Caramel Sauce

What I really adored about this Out The Door location is the proximity and view to the open kitchen; it's a portal into the creative collaboration of divine ingredients transformed by way of heat, caramelization and the knife...

And watching the Claypot arrive onto the counter from the oven, lid on, with steam spewing from the tiny hole screaming to be let out of its confinement just adds to the dramatic entrance as it makes its way to the table, it's contents revealed, fragrance and all.

This chicken dish is a rice lover's must have:  Baked Chicken in a Claypot Casserole with Minced Thai Chiles, Ginger in a Caramel Sauce, just a touch salty so as to require a mouthful of rice to compensate and sate the palate.  It's a slow moving catch-22, eat some chicken, need some rice, need more chicken, need more rice to eat more chicken...and so on and so's a culinary Sisyphus...but without the labor...and the hell...(maybe not the best analogy).. Anyways, it's a delicious dish, despite my last description....

Banh Mi: Lemongrass Pork, Pate with Shallot Mayonnaise, Cucumber, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro and Soy
Another dish that is one of my favorites: the Banh Mi.  A culinary evolution between French and Vietnamese.  Lemongrass marinated Pork with Pate with all the Southeast Vegetable & Herbs, Shallot Mayonnaise and Soy...It's light, it's savory, it's so good!!!!

Now that we've eaten here, I can't imagine coming to SF without having my first meal off the plane at Out The Door on Bush Street.  And now that I know they even serve Breakfast, I can make plans to eat here at any time of the day!

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)

Food:           4.5
Ambience:   3.5 
Service:       3.5

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