45 Turk (at Mason), 921-8767. Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations not necessary. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: not too difficult. Muni: all streetcar lines (exit at Powell Street), 31, 9, BART. Sound level: quiet
Luckily, Phong Lan also offers water and rice (free), which took the edge off the murderous pepper just in time for our final dish, the combination chow fun ($4.95). Featuring a somewhat thinner noodle than Chinese chow fun, the dish came with beef, chicken, shrimp, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli, all of which complemented each other perfectly.
As we finished, our waiter/proprietor dropped by to deliver the bill (less than $40 for seven courses and two beers, and the place is even cheaper for lunch). He told us that, as charming as the bar décor might be, a little remodeling lies in Phong Lan's future. Which seems a shame, in a way, since there's something wonderful about a family-owned restaurant being run amid the vestiges of a place where young men used to grow up way too fast. But oh well. Progress is progress, I guess, and I'm certainly not one to stand in its way.