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Monday, August 30, 2010

The Under-$10 Hookup: Lime Tree Southeast Asian Kitchen

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge Thumbs up: Lime Tree's beef rendang. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Thumbs up: Lime Tree's beef rendang.
Last Thursday's KQED Forum radio show with Michael Krasny featured a chat with Bay Area food writers and restaurant critics including SF Weekly's Jonathan Kauffman. During listener call-ins, several requested recommendations for inexpensive dining. Well, at the risk of raising the ire of the regulars by divulging their neighborhood gem, we wanted to offer up one of our favorite bargain eateries, Lime Tree Southeast Asian Kitchen, a small basement restaurant in the Inner Sunset.

While double-digit dinner prices are the norm at nearby restaurants, Lime Tree offers satisfying meals at what usually pass for lunch prices (i.e., under $10). Since 2006, Indonesian chef Siok Ming Tjong (he prefers to be called Ming), has been putting out simple, tasty dishes influenced by Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. The perennially smiling chef seems happy to customize any dish, whether that means making it vegetarian, adjusting the spice, etc.

click to enlarge LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
The short menu is wide-ranging ― there's even a fancy, chocolate- and banana-filled crepe. A few of the most popular choices include appetizers roti pratha (flaky flat bread, $3.49), martabak (grilled flat bread filled with beef and eggs, $5.49), and corn fritters ($4.49). Among the noodles and rice plates, both the Singaporean curry noodles with chicken ($5.95) and the delicious beef rendang ($7.99) get our thumbs up. New on the menu is a seafood laksa (spicy noodle soup). A current seasonal special is ikan pepes, perfectly cooked salmon wrapped in a banana leaf with spicy sauce. During the season, look for a chile crab dish.

Lime Tree Southeast Asian Kitchen: 450A Irving (at Sixth Ave.), 665-1415; there's a website ― www.limetreesf.com ― but it doesn't always load

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Luis Chong

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