Lunch at the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building, SF

by foodhoe on October 31, 2010

1 Ferry Building, SF, CA 94111 | 415.861.8032 | website

The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area.  Mr. K and I met some of his co-workers who were visiting from out of town here for lunch before walking along the Embarcadero to watch the blue angels aerial wizardry that was in town for fleet week.  We used to dine frequently at the Slanted Door when it was on Valencia Street, but this was our first visit to their swanky digs in the Ferry Building; although I admit that I made frequent visits to the take out counter, Out the Door when I worked in the city… The bar was intricate panels made of layers and layers of glass that are visually stimulating with the infinitely changing light, and very modern low-backed stools at the counter.

All of the rustic tables are made of a light blond wood with unfinished edges and sporting a glossy polished surface that reflected the light in a pleasing manner.

The Crispy Imperial Rolls are filled with with shrimp, pork, glass noodles and peanuts ($10) and rolled up in the thicker rice paper wrappers that get that wonderful blistered exterior and have the most toothsome crunch.  They came piping hot from the fryer and were served on a platter piled with red lettuce leaves, fresh mint and cilantro and vermicelli noodles.

The purpose of all the greenery is to wrap the searingly hot nugget of fried joy up in a cool crisp leaf of lettuce along with some noodles and fragrant mint and cilantro.  Drizzle some of the accompanying piquant Nuoc Cham sauce over the incendiary fried nugget to help cool it off and it adds a pungent burst of flavor to the mix.  I have come to regard the vietnamese imperial rolls as my favorite of the many cuisines that make fried rolls, especially when they are served like this with the works!

Robert had never tried Pho Bo ($6), so we ordered a small bowl for him to enjoy.  The broth is made with prather ranch london broil and is served with wide cut rice noodles.  It was a very clean broth and the meat looked luscious.

There were a couple of old friends on the menu, the grass-fed Estancia Shaking Beef ($32), was exactly what we had expected.  Generously sized cubes of filet mignon are marinated then wok seared with red onions, until lightly crisped but still rosy pink and tender inside, served over sausalito springs’ watercress, and with a delectably simple dipping sauce made of fresh lime juice mixed with salt and black pepper.  As Foodnut points out on their review here, the dish was a miserly 6 pieces, which amounts to $5 per chunk!  But this is the dish that put Slanted Door on the radar and really got us hooked on Vietnamese cuisine.  You can find the recipe online here so now we can all make it at home…

We shared the Caramelized Tiger Prawns with garlic, onions and chili sauce ($18) which were succulent but on the small side, served with sauteed onions that were still crisp and added a delicious pungent kick.

We also had the classic Chicken Claypot ($19), in which the caramel sauce is made spicy with chilies and fresh ginger and fragrant from the cilantro strewn on top.  This is a dish that is made to be scooped over hot rice, although Saurabh asked for additional chili sauce and black pepper as he thought it was a bit bland.

I had a bowl of the massa organicsBrown Rice ($3 per bowl), which was cooked very well, fluffy and chewy and ready to absorb delicious sauces.

I was very disappointed with the Halibut served over Vermicelli with turmeric, fresh dill and pineapple-anchovy sauce  ($16).  I saw the turmeric and dill and didn’t notice the word pineapple, so my expectation of something like the traditional Cha Ca was forlornly wrong.  It looked good at first glance, but the noodles were covered with a hideously sweet and sour gloppy sauce that seemed jarring and wrong.  I liked the fish all right, but this was our noodle dish and no one touched the noodles…

We had one vegetarian dish made with Catalan Farm spicy broccoli with honshimeji mushrooms and braised Hodo tofu ($10) which was a big hit.  The firm tofu was marinated in a light anise flavored soy sauce, and served in thin slices that absorbed the flavors of the dish and were addictively chewy.

We shared a couple of desserts.  I ate practically the entire warm coconut Sticky Rice ($7), which included some black beans, and was topped with a caramelized banana slice.  The rice had a toasted crispy texture, like it had been under the broiler, which gave it a very tantalizing  nutty flavor that went perfectly with the rich creamy coconut milk drizzled on top.

The Confectioner’s Plate ($7) was a fun presentation that included a big puff of cotton candy that was dusted with a contrastingly tart powder, pieces of nougat, turkish delight, and a milk chocolate hazelnut cluster.

The nougat was deliciously chewy

The view is swell from any location, it was a gorgeous sunny day and we watched the boats out on the bay coming in to watch the airshow.  We were disappointed with our meal, especially because it was rather expensive (over $230) for what amounted to a bunch of rice pates, and we felt ripped off like we were eating at a tourist trap.  I doubt that I’d come back to the restaurant proper, but love the location enough that I’d stop by for the to go menu at Out the Door, or sit at the bar for happy hour or a quick bite rather than a full meal.

Slanted Door on Urbanspoon

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa November 1, 2010 at 1:41 am

Scrumptious looking food and lovely view!




sarah November 1, 2010 at 9:09 am

That shaking beef looks awesome, but the price tag was a little hefty. BTW, I work for a company called We are the web’s first real time dining search engine, and have all dining info from thousands of restaurants’ tweets, blogs, websites, as well as all dining deals from daily deal websites. Check us out!


Gastronomer November 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

$5 per piece o beef?! Yow! That’s pretty pricey. Sorry to hear that Slanted Door didn’t rock. The “cha ca” dish sounded especially disappointing. Booo!


Sam (The Second Lunch) November 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I hear you about the sticker price, but I do find that I go there routinely and am much more satisfied by some of their less expensive dishes at lunch and try to get the most for my buck… Generally we get the shrimp and pork wonton soup, crispy imperials, and spare ribs, and are happy as a clam. When we are super hungry, we add the chicken claypot. We both get iced tea, and it’s fairly reasonable. Plus, it’s just so pretty!


Bonnibella November 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I think the price tag is hefty too but keeping in mind it is filet mignon meat and slanted door uses watercress in their shaking beef, which is the way it should be. I would love to go back just for confection plate.


foodhoe November 2, 2010 at 8:40 am

rosa, the view can’t be beat!
sarah, many of the dishes are delicious, but I blame the overhead of the view and quality of the sourced ingredients for those crazy high prices… I’ll check out bitehunter, I always am looking for a deal
gastronomer, you have a knack for finding the most amazing sounding VN dishes down south and for such bargain prices too
Sam, that’s so true, there are much more reasonably priced items on the menu, I’ve never had the wonton soup (which I love) either. And since I make regular stops either at the Ferry Building, I know I’ll be back… thx for the tip!
bonnibella, well that’s just it, the shaking beef is so well made and delicious that we keep coming back for it! But now I have the recipe to make at home…


Natural Selection November 2, 2010 at 9:07 am

Delicious looking food with nice views!


Single Guy Ben November 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Oh, by your pictures and descriptions, I thought you were going to like it so were surprised that you won’t even go back for dinner? It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Slanted Door and have heard mixed reviews. So too bad because it really is a beautiful restaurant and location. Maybe lunch with some choice entrees might be OK. BTW, you’re so brave to take pictures of the food in front of your husband’s out-of-town co-workers! 😉


taste tests November 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I think the stuff at Slanted Door is pretty hit or miss. Are you going to the Foodbuzz Festival this weekend?


foodhoe November 4, 2010 at 8:19 am

single guy, I do like slanted door but the prices make it way less attractive to me for a casual lunch in a touristy area… about those pictures, you know me, I’m a shameless hussy
taste tests, I agree. I am not a featured publisher anymore and don’t think I’m going to dish out the big $$ to attend, sorry to miss you again!


hungry dog November 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

Hm, kinda pricey for lunch. Have you been to Out the Door, not just the takeout counter at the ferry bldg but the one on Bush St or Westfield ctr? MUCH more affordable and the food is just as delicious, I go to both all the time. We just were there last weekend and had those divine imperial rolls…


Lara Alexander November 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I love this place – I don’t live in the Bay Area, but I’ve been to the Slanted Door twice and loved the food. It is pricey, but not out of line with many many big city restaurants serving quality fresh food. I do admit that I am used to Pho prices for Vietnamese food though!


Jeanette November 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Been dreaming of eating at the Slanted Door for a while! Wish there was a good Vietnamese restaurant near me. Meanwhile, been trying some Vietnamese recipes on my own.


Su-Lin November 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I’d heard such good things about the Slanted Door but never realised it was so $$$! I also always thought I would visit it if I were ever in SF again but I guess it’s off the list now!


foodhoe November 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

hungry dog, I have been to the Westfield location which will be my Charles Phan hot spot in the future, thanks for the reminder
Lara, thanks for visiting and you hit the nail on the head…
Jeanette, it is a lovely spot, hope you post the good recipes you discover!
Su-Lin, the prices are a bit surprising aren’t they? You can’t beat the view though.


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