We try to spend as little time as possible under fluorescents, which is why we were heartened by news that a favorite (if ill-lit) pho place, Pho Clement, added a second location on Geary, sans harsh, flickering lights.Even pho looks better in soft light. There are two dozen numbered combinations here (this is the medium-size #10, Nam Ve Don, well-done flank steak, $7.50), or you can customize with other meats. Besides the usual plate heaped with bean sprouts, Thai basil, sawtooth herb, chiles, and lime, you can amp things up via a forest of condiments: sriracha, hoisin, soy, chile oil, sesame oil, and vinegar.
One of our favorites among the many appetizers: fried shrimp cakes ($7.25) encased in thin tofu wrappers, with fresh vegetables and a tangy vinegar dipping sauce.
A roll-your-own platter: in this case, grilled marinated pork (banh hoi thit nuong, $12.25), with rice-paper wrappers, vermicelli noodle nests, and a heap o' lettuces, herbs, and chopped vegetables.
First you position the noodles (topped with minced scallions and chopped peanuts), heap on herbs, meat, and so on, then roll into burrito shape. Yum.
Bigger and classier than the original location, with comfortable chairs and over 150 tasty, inexpensive dishes to choose from.
Pho Clement 2 5423 Geary (at 19th Ave.), 876-2828. Open daily, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.