A few years later, wanting to complete the 7x7 magazine: 100 Things to try before you die list I revisited Pagolac. I thought, “Well maybe I was young, dumb and unsophisticated to admire Pagolac.” This time around, it is 100% confirmed AH does 7 course beef authentically and better.
The restaurant is minialistic with bare painted walls, a orchid and room seperator. The service is attentive with refreshed plates, constant changing of hot water for our rice papers, and pretty dishware. I started off with soda plum; seltzer water with crushed pickled salty plums.
Vietnamese 7 course beef is the cheapest tasting menu in the culinary world, a recession friendly way to indulge in a little luxury.
The 1st course is raw beef salad with thinly sliced onions and Vietnamese shredded herbs. The beef is minced, too little and overridden with excess lime juice.
The 2nd course is beef vinegar fondue. A boiling bowl with onions and vinegar. When the vinegar begins to boil the acidity is pungent but does not over power the beef.
The 3rd course is beef slices grilled on a cask iron plate. Unfortunely, there was a language and serving miscommunication. They brought the plate of raw beef first and when I asked if it was to be eaten raw, her answer was yes. We thought it was odd the beef was flavored with Maggi and didn’t have any citrus; then 10 mins later they arrive with the cask iron plate. We were suppose to grill the meat and not eat it raw. UH OH! No apologies, no replacement of the meat and we were worried about getting sick. We advised them the plate should be brought out with the grill TOGETHER. (Yes, I've eaten here before, but it was years ago and unmemorable.)
The 4th, 5th, 6th course is served on one plate: skewered beef, la lot (beef wrapped in hawaiian leaf) and beef wrapped with onions. The portions are really tiny compared to Anh Hong, dry and undistingusihed flavors between each beef.
The 4th,5th and 6th course is where the wrapping of rolls begin. The condiments are fish sauce, red lettuce, Vietnamese herbs (purple mint, perilla, vietnamese coriander, spearmint, cliantro), cucumbers, pickled carrots and turnips.
This is the technique I use to roll my creations, making it a tight, neat and fast way to rock n roll.
1.) Dip the rice paper and fold it in half.
2.) Pile the vegetables at the tip and then a piece of meat.
3.) Begin at the tip and roll up, it’s the best way to eat!
The 7th course is beef congee, Pagaloc pre-serves each bowl with bits of ground meat, green onions and ginger. The broth in the congee is very strong and hearty.
I hate to keep comparing AH and Pagaloc but some positives of AH vs. Pagaloc: The portions are bigger as I can barely finish my share and Pagaloc leaves me wanting more. In addition to the fish dipping sauce, there is also the shrimp paste with grapefruit. Instead of the grilled beef, AH offers the traditional steamed beef cake. Each course of beef is distictive, juicy and flavorful. Click here for AH’s pictures
655 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94109