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.
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.
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.
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.