Noodle Shop and Lounge at Heaven’s Dog

by foodhoe on March 7, 2010

1148 Mission St  (between 7th St & Julia St), SF, CA 94103 | (415) 863-6008 | website | @HeavensDog | reservations
Dinner only.  Mon-Sat.  5 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.  Sun. 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

I met up with a bunch of girlfriends for a pre-holiday happy hour to sample the small plates menu of Heaven’s Dog, the latest endeavor of Charles Phan, the entrepreneurial chef/owner of The Slanted Door.  It occupies the ground floor of the SoMa Grand, a sleek modern residential tower next to the Federal Building on Mission Street.

The chef is Andy Wai who was previously the executive chef at Harbor Village in Embarcadero 4 and had his own restaurant in San Mateo.  Phan conceived of Heaven’s Dog as an afterwork hangout and watering hole, with the noodle bar counter open during lunch. The menu focuses on Northern Chinese cuisine using the bountiful resources of the Greater Bay Area, and offers a variety of snacky appetizers, like dumplings, buns, wontons and lamb skewers and familiar standard stir fries like Cashew Chicken and Mapo Tofu. Throughout the restaurant are gigantic whacked out portraits of dogs.

We were seated in a private room off to the side of the bar, at a long narrow table which felt very cozy and intimate, it was quiet and I loved that we could enjoy the food and be able to catch up and chat.

The lighting was not very bright, but since we were in our own little space, I busted out the flash.  We started off with the famous Braised Pork Belly in Clamshell bun ($9).  I especially wanted to try this dish which has become an obsession after reading about the infamous Momofuku buns and drooling over Foodgal’s post here,  The plate came with four fluffy buns, smeared with hoisin and filled with a thick piece of pork that reminded me more of charsiu than bacon in texture and with a nice amount of slivered green onion

We shared a couple orders of Shanghai Dumplings ($9), plump little orbs filled with a savory pork mixture and a little bit of broth that is served with spoons so that you don’t lose any of the liquid when you bite into it.

It comes with dark and mysterious rice vinegar, and fine shreds of fresh ginger that go perfectly with the rich meaty dumplings.

The Beef Curry Puffs with Mint Sauce ($7) reminded me of samosas, wrapped in puff pastry and deep fried.  The mint sauce was an unusual accompaniment, it was a simple acidic and minty mignonette that played well with the rich fried spicy puff.

We devoured the Salt and Pepper Local squid ($13), which had a light crisp batter that was spicy and fragrant with red chili, toasted garlic and a handful of fresh cilantro.

The Spicy Niman Lamb Skewers ($9), were very aromatic with cumin and chili powder, served with a few slices of pickled vegetables on the side.

We tried one of the two noodle dishes on the menu, Vermicelli stir-fry, pork shoulder, shrimp, yellow curry ($12), which was full of light crisp julienne vegetables and infused with the heady aroma of curry.

DebbieN zeroed in on the Spicy Chicken with fresh bamboo  and toasted cashew ($14) when she saw it on the menu because she loves fresh bamboo shoots, but it didn’t seem to have the fresh stuff.

Ma Po Tofu ($12), was a generous mound of soft custardy chunks of tofu combined with a mixture of ground beef, chili paste, and szechuan peppers that was thick and spicy.  It was delicious served over hot steaming rice (you can also request brown rice).

We shared one of the vegetable side dishes, which turned out to be one of the more intriguing taste combinations of the evening, Rodoni Farms organic brussels sprouts ($10), flavored with ginger and chinese sausage.  The brussel sprouts were tender and I wished there were more bits of the chinese sausage.

We saved enough room to share one dessert, a Red Bean Buckwheat Crepe served with a scoop of ginger ice cream. It was a subdued but delicious combination, I would have liked a bit of dark chocolate sauce drizzled over the crepe…

On the way out we walked by the actual noodle bar, which seemed serene from the outside.  When we went, there were only two noodle dishes on the dinner menu, and I was told that they had a much larger selection of noodles on the lunch menu.  Since then they changed their hours and are only open for dinner, so I wonder about that noodle bar… It sure looked empty.

There are so few Asian restaurants that have embraced using local, organic and sustainable products, and while the food we were served stayed within the bounds of a traditional Chinese menu, the fresh quality and flavors were brilliant. It was around $35 per person including a drink each from the bar, which I need to mention serves fantastic sounding cocktails designed by Erik Adkins who hand cuts ice for rocks drinks.  They offer a beverage called “Freedom from Choice,” where you tell the server your favorite spirit and let the bartenders do the mixing.  I thought the price was very fair for the quality of the food and excellent service, and being able to enjoy it all in such stylish surroundings.

I haven’t been to this part of town in quite a while and was pleasantly surprised at how clean and brightly lit the area is, especially with the Federal Building next door.

Heaven's Dog on Urbanspoon

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa March 8, 2010 at 4:34 am

The food looks really good! Your post made me hungry…

Cheers,

Rosa

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Kirk March 8, 2010 at 10:48 am

Hey FH – The food looks great… except for that sorta Gong Bao Ji (Kung Pao chicken) – ish thing.

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Single Guy Ben March 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I’ve been waiting for your review on this since you mentioned you went here. Looks like a stylish place to dine, especially having your own private room for flash! 😉 Don’t know why restaurants are so into eating in the dark. (FYI: I think Chef Andy Wai is no longer there. SF Gate reported that he left a couple of weeks ago, and now Charles Phan has taken over the helm in the kitchen temporarily. Not sure what’s up with Heaven’s Dog with this news and cutting its lunch hours.)
.-= Single Guy Ben´s last blog ..The Secret is Out on the Underground Market =-.

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Cookie March 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I’ve been wanting to check this place out cuz I love Slanted Door. The prices are amazing for all the wonderful food you had! I especially like those Shanghai Dumplings cuz well, I’m from Shanghai, and those usually determine if I like the restaurant or not.
.-= Cookie´s last blog ..A Weekend of Braising =-.

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grace March 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm

the chicken with cashews would really tickle my fancy, and that dessert is one of the most unique things i’ve ever seen! buckwheat crepes? red bean filling? ginger ice cream? wowza. 🙂
.-= grace´s last blog ..double dose =-.

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hungry dog March 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Why haven’t I been here yet? I feel like every day I hear another rave review. And the photo of that pork belly in the clamshell bun…I just finished lunch and I’m dying to eat at least two of those. Thanks for yet another reminder that I need to get my butt over there!
.-= hungry dog´s last blog ..Carrot and carrot soup =-.

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Livin Local March 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Mmmmm! The Ma Po Tofu looks lucious. We all appreciate you bustin’ out the flash for our enjoyment.
.-= Livin Local´s last blog ..Cube Steak with Mushroom Thyme Sauce =-.

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BeeNoGuy March 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

I like your blog! Nice writeup of Heaven’s Dog, although I’m sad that Andy no longer has his own restaurant (his business partners and staff I suppose ran his last restaurant to the ground) and has to go away from the route of authentic Cantonese to survive :-/.
.-= BeeNoGuy´s last blog ..[台北] – 寧夏夜市-蛋黃芋餅 – Ningxia Road Night Market Taipei – deep fried bun (taro, duck yolk, pork floss) =-.

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Gastronomer March 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Charles Phan is the man! The menu looks safe, but totally delicious.
.-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..Church & State – Los Angeles (Downtown) =-.

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Victor March 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Food looks delicious! You got to try so much variety! I’ve got to try the Spicy Niman Lamb Skewers!
.-= Victor´s last blog ..Zuni Cafe in San Francisco =-.

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Juliana March 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Oh! Everything looks delicious, would love to try them all…nice pictures 🙂
.-= Juliana´s last blog ..CHICKEN SAUSAGE WITH BELL PEPPERS =-.

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crablover March 10, 2010 at 12:15 am

The SF Chronicle reported that Chef Andy Wai left as of last month.

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foodhoe March 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Crablover, Really? I wonder where he went off to… thanks for the update.

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Bonnibella March 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I really like the brussel sprouts and chinese sausage dish, it’s like a my dad’s version with cabbage (since both veggies are in the same family) I’m going to try that at home.

The market sells chinese black vinegar which is what is served with XLB.
.-= Bonnibella´s last blog ..Oxtail and Bean Curd Stew =-.

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Mrs. L March 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’ve had this place on my “must try” list for a while, but after your report I think I need to move it to the to of the list, everything sounds so good!

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Carolyn Jung March 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I still need to make it to Heaven’s Dog for Charles Phan’s incomparable cooking. Those pork buns look to rival the ones at Momofuku!
.-= Carolyn Jung´s last blog ..Win A James Beard-Nominated Cookbook =-.

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Chums Dog Walking August 12, 2010 at 5:30 am

My wife will be in SF in August from London.Looks like a niCe place for her to visit food looks great pitty I am not going.

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