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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Food Porn: Sunflower's Vietnamese Crepe

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2008 at 10:35 AM

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Everybody has their own favorite Vietnamese joint. Mine happens to be Sunflower Restaurant (3111 16th Street) in the Mission, partially because it's within walking distance and cheapish and partially because it's damn tasty. So what's their secret? As regulars know, most if not all of Sunflower's food is great, but there's one particular dish that's so consistently mouthwatering that it cannot be denied its rightful place in the pantheon of San Francisco's greatest hits: behold the Vietnamese Crepe (Banh Xeo).

Follow the jump for the up close and personal ...

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The Vietnamese Crepe consists of a crispy, rice flour crepe (it looks remarkably similar to a plain old omelet, but don't be fooled!) wrapped around a filling of bean sprouts, chicken and shrimp. True, it doesn't sound all that amazing, but it's the kind of dish you have to experience to appreciate.

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Like many great, cheap (technically it's an appetizer) dishes -- the crepe's power lies in its simplicity: the light crispiness of the shell matched with the similarly fresh crunch of the sprouts. The mild richness of the chicken and shrimp also provide some much-needed weight. In and of itself this is a wonderful taste/texture combination, but it isn't complete -- not by a long shot -- until you get busy with the all-important condiments: a stack of fresh lettuce leaves, shredded carrot, fresh mint, and perhaps the greatest asset in the Vietnamese arsenal: the spicy/sweet fish sauce. Just cut off a hunk of the crepe, wrap it up burrito-style in the lettuce, lay down some carrot and douse liberally with fish sauce. I also like to add a squirt of cock sauce (heh) to add some heat. Then, my friends, prepare to be amazed.

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While many Pho enthusiasts will no doubt disagree, in my humble opinion (after extensive trial and error) the perfect Vietnamese meal at Sunflower goes like this:

  • Vietnamese Crepe ($7.25)

  • Vietnamese Beef Salad ($5.50)

  • Imperial Rolls ($4.75)

    -- Brian Bernbaum

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    Brian Bernbaum

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