Aborted Mission Mission

Angkor Borei, San Francisco

I missed rice.

Three weeks of nothing but beef, microbrews, Texas-style barbecue and varying shades of Mexican had begun to take its inevitable toll. I’d had a recommendation from a Phnom Penh friend that Angkor Borei Restaurant in the deep, deep south of Mission Street in San Francisco was the real deal for Cambodian food. They even had the bad painting of Angkor Wat on display which in my mind is the Cambodian equivalent of displaying a Michelin star. It’s easy to get there: just catch the MUNI J-Church straight to where San Jose meets Mission Street.

USA
So close, so far away

What my friend neglected to mention was that Angkor Borei was closed on Tuesday, the only free day that I could make it there. Being out the front of the restaurant did actually make me close on Tuesday, but not actually close enough to review or eat anything. As much as I’m all for postmodernism, not eating at a restaurant precludes discussing the food.

Pho Phu Quoc, San Francisco

To add insult to injury, the Vietnamese substitute dinner was at Pho Phu Quoc, named after the Cambodian island that thanks to some French colonial geographic reshuffling, ended up as part of Vietnam.

Pho at Pho Phu Quoc, SF

Their pho was not quite right. Plenty of tai (raw sliced beef), beef balls that tasted uncharacteristically like they were made from actual cow parts, and soup that tasted like its sole ingredients were cinnamon powder and cloves. It was somewhat frightening to spot a new Vina-Malaysian fusion food on the menu – pho satay – regular pho with a hearty slug of commercial satay sauce for good measure.

Locations: Angkor Borei Restaurant, 3471 Mission St , San Francisco.

Pho Phu Quoc, 1816 Irving St (At 19th Ave) , San Francisco.

4 thoughts on “Aborted Mission Mission”

  1. Though we haven’t eaten there in years, I recall Chez Sovan in San Jose did a fantastic job. I hear it’s still great. At the time, they were serving some of the royal Khmer dishes that are difficult to find in Cambodia these days.

  2. What was that? The Cambodians claimed that it was the French who turned Phu Quoc island over to the Vietnamese? Give me a break. The island was originally developed AND controlled by a Chinese warlord name Mac Cuu, along with almost all Chinese settlers. He later voluntarily submitted to the authority of the Nguyen king of Vietnam. So, Phu Quoc became Vietnamese territory way back then, long before the French ever came. If the Cambodians claim that it’s theirs, then they should have fought harder to keep it. Don’t forget that the Cambodians also invaded and occupied Champa. So the whole territory issue was just a matter of big fish swallowing small fish. Cambodia was a fish in that cycle. They have no moral ground to claim anything.

  3. Pho Phu Quoc? Been there and done that. Irving Street is jam-packed with lots of great little Asian joints.

    And then you can head to one of SF’s many smoker-friendly bars for a phat tasty NoCal sticky bud joint of another color to chill out and work-up some more hunger for desert… maybe at Toy Boat on Clement Street where the chocolate cake is out of this world and you can buy a Pee-Wee Herman Pez dispenser if the mood stirkes you. Or not. Up to you!

  4. “Their pho was not quite right. Plenty of tai (raw sliced beef), beef balls that tasted uncharacteristically like they were made from actual cow parts, and soup that tasted like its sole ingredients were cinnamon powder and cloves.”

    You are dead right about Pho Phu Quoc! PPQ is one of the worst Pho shops in San Francisco. It’s owned by a Chinese-Vietnamese family, it has been there a long time and mainly catered to the Chinese in the area, who probably doesn’t really know what a good bowl of Pho should taste like. My preferences are Quan Ngon on Noreiga St at around 30th Ave and another in the Tenderloin on Larkin (Turtle Tower), they have the authentic northern style Pho there.

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