The Chicken Noodle Soup (Phở Gà) at Turtle Tower

by foodhoe on January 21, 2010

631 Larkin St, SF, CA 94109 | 415.409.3333 |  Hours: Mon-Sun. 8:30 am – 7:30 pm

For a while now, it seems that anytime the topic of pho came up, I was asked if I had eaten at Turtle Tower.  And so, Mr. K and I finally made the pilgrimmage to the tower, which is named after a famous pagoda in the middle of Hanoi’s Sword Lake.  The restaurant is in the Tenderloin along a stretch of Larkin Street that is designated as Little Saigon and is so popular that they have a list hanging by the door for you to pencil your name in if there is a line (ala burma superstar….)

The interior is simple and bright and most importantly, the tabletops are devoid of the usual clutter of chopsticks, napkins, eating utensils and condiment trays.

The house specialty is a northern-style chicken Phở Gà which features wide, flat noodles – made in-house – with only green onions and cilantro in the broth.

The noodles are wide and supple, silky smooth and seemed to expand and grow over time.  In fact, it seemed that my large bowl of noodles was something from a fairy tale and kept replenishing itself when I wasn’t looking…  The broth is clean and fresh tasting, rich but not fatty and I swear I could hear chickens clucking while I busily slurped up the flavorful soup.

The Phở Gà, arrives in large steaming bowls without the usual accoutrement piles of vegetables like basil, cilantro and bean.  Instead you are served a small plate with some lemon and jalapeno slices, I think you get lime wedges when you order beef.  This was all we got for our table, along with a single bottle of sriracha chili sauce, there was no hoisin sauce in the house..

I must mention that Mr. K only ever orders Phở Gà with egg noodles, nothing else, and he was very impressed with the clarity of flavors in the soup.

And the Imperial Rolls (Chả giò) are made with the thick rice paper wraps that forms a crisp blistered chewy crust in the fryer.   Mr. K thought these were as good as Tu Lan rolls (of which we are unabashed fans), filled with a steaming hot savory mixture of garlicy pork, vermicelli noodles, some vegetables and lots of black pepper.

They are served with a plate of fresh vegetables: herbs and crisp lettuce leaves to roll them up in and then dip into the ubiquitous tangy sweet spicy Nước chấm sauce.

Oh and did I mention that this was yet another item I can now cross off the list of 100 things in SF to eat before you die...  Indeed, I agree that the chicken noodle soup here is not to be missed!

Turtle Tower on Urbanspoon

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

pigpigscorner January 21, 2010 at 3:32 am

Now you got me craving for pho…what a cute name!


grace January 21, 2010 at 7:53 am

i wonder if i’ll even scratch of a tenth of that list. i have my doubts. 🙂


Kirk January 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hey you even got “authentic” service as well! Nice to see that they used the right type of rice paper for the Cha Gio.


Rosa January 21, 2010 at 11:18 am

Vietnamese food is so fine! That soup looks so delicious!


.-= Rosa´s last blog ..WEEKEND CAT BLOGGING #241 =-.


Single Guy Ben January 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Glad you finally made it to Turtle Tower (I only checked off 20-plus items on that 100 list). The pho ga is really good, very clean and fresh. Just the right ingredients if you have a cold. But I’m not a fan of the wide noodles. I thought the rest of Turtle Tower’s menu was average, not as fresh as the chicken. Your imperial rolls looked good, but you know I didn’t order them because they’re deep fried!
.-= Single Guy Ben´s last blog ..Test Kitchen: Penne Rigate with Spicy Braised Swordfish =-.


Gastronomer January 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Drooooool! I’ve never seen a more delicious bowl of pho ga. It’s so cool that they make their own noodles! Larkin is good times.
.-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..Read Gastronomy. Help Haiti. =-.


Cookie January 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I totally miss all the good Pho places in San Jose! I don’t think I’ve ever had the wide noodles except for Chow Fen. They look wonderful! I love all the condiments they give you, especially the sauces!


hungry dog January 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

Hey, this is actually not far from where I work. I must go! Pho and imperial rolls…I could eat all of that right now.
.-= hungry dog´s last blog ..Going out, staying in =-.


Bonnibella January 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

There is nothing better in the world than eating Turtle Tower’s chicken pho!
.-= Bonnibella´s last blog ..Caviar and Sparkling WineTasting at Domaine Carneros =-.


taste tests January 23, 2010 at 12:37 am

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Turtle Tower! I used to go a couple times a month when I lived in Civic Center for school. Haven’t been back since I graduated … now I’m craving some again!
.-= taste tests´s last blog ..Brunchin’ At Home =-.


Sweets at Vicky's January 23, 2010 at 12:56 am

That’s my fqavouyrite viet comfort food. Those fried rolls and pho!
.-= Sweets at Vicky’s´s last blog ..A 28th! =-.


Jo January 25, 2010 at 1:52 am

Turtle Tower is my place for the chicken pho. I also appreciate that they don’t give you all the sprouts and herbs that the other pho places do. All I want is lemon anyway. I haven’t been there in a while, so this triggered my want to go again. =)


Juliana January 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Nice food show…I’d love to try the miso hamburger 🙂
Vietnamese food? I like the pho, specially in this cold weather!
.-= Juliana´s last blog ..BAKED PANELA CHEESE =-.


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