Bun Mee in San Francisco

Bun Mee--San Francisc0 P1000471 P1000469On a visit to Sonoma this summer, we needed a quick bite before getting on the plane in San Francisco. So we wound our way through the city via Highway 1 in hopes of finding a parking place near the restaurant I had picked out for a quick lunch. We hit the jackpot and raced in.

For anyone in Kansas City who is reading this and has been looking for a can’t-miss restaurant to open, I offer you Bun Mee.

Bun Mee is a fast-casual restaurant that bills itself as a Vietnamese sandwich shop. It’s colorful, attractive and the food will knock your socks off. Diners order at a counter and then a server brings your food to the table…if you’re lucky enough to grab one.

The menu is simple. Almost a dozen sandwich fillings are offered, each with different toppings. Or you can have a noodle or rice bowl with many of those same toppings. If you want to play it safe there’s also a Grilled Chicken Salad or “Vietnamese” Caesar. Side salads and fun additions like sweet potato fries and egg rolls round out the selection.

I had the Grilled Kurobata Pork sandwich for a very reasonable $6.50. Layered on top was garlic aioli, shaved onion, pickled carrot & daikon, cucumber, jalapenos, and cilantro. The flavors danced in my mouth with every bite. A variation on that is the Braised Kurobuta pork belly with salted radish relish, shaved onion, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro. I had opted for the “healthier” version, but my friend offered me a bite of hers and it was definitely worth getting. Amazing what a little fat adds to the equation!

Grilled flank steak with lime pepper aioli, lotus root relish, shaved onion, pickled carrot & daikon, cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro, and crispy shallots was another winner.

And since we had to try something other than a sandwich, and my husband never met a noodle he didn’t like, he ordered the Bun Noodle Bowl. It came with Vermicelli noodle, lettuce, pickled carrots, cucumbers, mint, cilantro, roasted peanuts, and crispy shallots served with a nuoc cham dipping sauce. He added tofu. It was a bit difficult to mix but worth the effort.Noodle Bowl--Bun Mee

Service was fast, and we had no trouble making our plane. Obviously anything would be better than picking up a sandwich at the airport, but this was a fun way to finish a wonderful week of indulging in food and wine.

Okay, all of you entrepreneurs in the country’s most entrepreneurial city, did I get anyone’s attention??!!

Bun Mee on Urbanspoon

First Taste: Frida’s Taqueria

Many of you are familiar with Frida’s Contemporary Mexican Restaurant. If you’re not, you should be.  Owner Ivan Marquez has a hit on his hands there, with cuisine that makes you smile with every bite. Not content to simply move the original restaurant to 119th St. from 149th St. in Stanley ( which has done wonders to increase his foot traffic), Marquez and his family recently opened Frida’s Taqueria. The fast-casual concept offers a pared-down menu of tacos, burritos, tamales and empanadas, as well as the standard chips, salsa and guacamole.

On a recent visit, I sampled two tacos: one stuffed with Chile Verde (pork with tomatillo sauce) and the other with Cochinita Pibil (pork with Yucatan sauce). They were served with rice and a choice of black or refried beans, which came in tiny plastic cups that also serve as the vessel for salsas. My husband ordered a burrito, which came with the rice and beans wrapped up in the tortilla rather than on the side.

Though we ended up with a pork tamale despite ordering one with cheese and chiles, we had no complaints. The masa was light and moist.

Going through the line is not as easy an experience as it is at Chipotle. A language barrier or lack of hospitality made it difficult to complete the order. The salsas aren’t marked, and the people behind the counter weren’t particularly forthcoming, so I was left to point at each container of food to determine its contents and ask for various sauces or veggies to be added.

The final product was worth that bit of awkwardness. The pork was tender and juicy, with terrific flavor shining through in each bite. I also enjoyed the salsas, which I’d bet were the same as those served in the main restaurant.

The taqueria is new and I fully expect service issues to be resolved. Since the food is so good and the prices so reasonable, tweaking that aspect of the operation is all it will take to make this a successful venture.


Frida's Taqueria on Urbanspoon