The Slanted Door is the perfect name for this Ferry Building staple: it opened the door to Vietnamese inspired asian fusion cuisine in an innovative (or slanted) orientation. The restaurant is upscale, yet the flavors are warm. Although the interiors don’t scream comfort, everything else about the restaurant makes you feel at home. I’ve been coming here for a while yet every time I return I’m blown away by the consistent quality of each dish. If you’re not in the mood to travel to the Embarcadero, or you want a table without making a reservation weeks in advance, try their equally awesome, more casual breakout restaurant Out The Door in Pac Heights.
My usual dinner order consists of the Pork & Shrimp Wonton Soup, Imperial Rolls, Claypot Chicken, and Shaking Beef, yet today I decided to live life on the edge and swap out the Chicken for a new item: The Vietnamese Crepe. When I say “usual” I mean this is what I ordered the first time coming to Slanted Door, and I haven’t found a reason to stray from it since then. Today was that day for two reasons. 1 - I usually go for dinner, and this was for lunch, so why not shake things up? 2 - I’m getting tired of the unfortunately consistent fat segments in the Chicken. Frankly I’m confused as to how this makes itself into the dish, because chicken has a low fat content, but it’s whatever.
The real reason I order the Gulf Shrimp & Pork Wonton Soup (five-spiced pork, egg noodle $7) is because it makes me feel like an adult. The reason? I don’t just use the fact it’s soup to disguise the fact I’m gobbling up the noodles and dumplings. This bowl is the whole package: It’s not just random ingredients floating in water, they mean something. This soup has integrity, and more importantly, it has spunk. In fact, it should be best friends with the sassy Lobster Bisque from the Rotunda because together they would rule the world. I don’t consider myself crazy, so when I start to personify soup you know it’s the real deal. Anyway, the reason it’s godly is because it embodies one of my favorite inspirational quotes: “Don’t settle for the status quo, bland, one-textured soups! Stand up for Bowl Equality and demand a well developed flavor and texture profile!” The crunch from the salty fried pork skins (not mentioned on the menu) complements the soft shrimp dumplings texturally, as well as complementing the flavor of the meat. The noodles are perfectly chewy and have a surprisingly rich flavor from the eggs. Although all of the elements of the dish are great on their own as well as together, the real star of the soup is the broth. I don’t know what flavor it is exactly, but whatever I’m tasting makes my taste buds go crazy. Unfortunately the portion size at Out The Door is about three times bigger and only $3 more. But no matter what size or shape, this soup is not to be overlooked.
There are two words that start with the letter “A” that sum up the Crispy Imperial Rolls (gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, glass noodle, roasted peanut $12): awkward, and awesome. When the servers bring the dish, they ask if it’s your first time having it. If it is, they instruct you on the “correct” way to compose your Imperial Roll: wrap one roll, some noodles, and a mint leaf in a piece of lettuce and add sauce. This method not only results in a greasy mouth and hands, but unless you can somehow fit it all in your mouth at once (wow, good for you) it’s hard to get every component into each bite. The only real benefit to wrapping everything in a leaf of lettuce is to somehow take away the guilt from eating a fried roll, but that’s ridiculous. Since the noodles add no texture or flavor to the rolls I disregard them completely and go straight to making my “slanted” version of the dish: dip a roll in the sauce, add a sprig of mint, and enjoy. The shrimp and pork marry and create an incredibly flavorful bite that is delivered in a warm crunchy roll. With the sweet and somewhat tangy sauce added and a the small addition of mint, the bite is dynamite.
I admit, the Vietnamese Crepe (gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, bean sprout, yellow onion $13) was innovative in design and concept, but in the end it didn’t stand out. It might be because this is literally the third dish out of three that features shrimp and pork, but it was just kind of boring. The crunchy top and the creamy bottom of the folded crepe kept me interested for a couple of bites, but my taste buds were quickly bored. I’m glad I tried something new for a change, but I won’t order this again.
Although it’s quite expensive considering the size, the Grass-fed Estancia Shaking Beef (cubed filet mignon, watercress, red onion, lime sauce $36) is worth ordering. The beef is perfectly cooked and has a slight crust. The onions add a crunch, and the salt and pepper lime sauce cuts the rich flavor of the filet mignon. If you’re like me and never order steak on a menu because it’s boring and predictable, this dish is for you.
When the two boys sitting next to me got the Doughnuts (butterscotch dipping sauce $9) delivered, they were too beautiful for me not to snap a pic. The guys tried to convince me to take one but I couldn’t accept that they would remember me as the girl who tried to eat their fried dough. I was not down with that, and to my surprise they finished every single one so I didn’t have a chance to ask again.
My dessert, the Roasted Apricot Tart (blueberry-creme fraiche ice cream $10) was everything it should be: tangy from the apricots, crunchy from the buttery crust, and creamy from the ice cream. I love that fruit was at the forefront in this dessert, yet it was accented with dessert classics like a crumbly crust and ice cream. It felt pretty light considering the apricots took up most of the dish, which is the perfect way to end lunch.
I really hope everyone who lives in the city has tried The Slanted Door because it’s truly unique. Dinner reservations are hard to come by so lunch is the perfect time to snag a table. The restaurant is always radiant (unless you’re sitting at the end of the bar like I was), and has great views of the bay. This is the perfect place to take out of town guests because it represents the best that San Francisco has to offer.