Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Tu Lan Reopens at Long Last 

Wednesday, Sep 4 2013
Comments

If you ask long-term San Franciscans what they go to Sixth Street for, almost all of them would say, "Tu Lan!" (For a small percentage, it might be prostitution or drugs.)

After an absence of just over a year, the Vietnamese restaurant beloved by Julia Child and Herb Caen and infamous for its filth and vermin has reopened, with nary a form of pestilence in sight.

The restaurant opens at 11 a.m., every table is filled by 11:02, and by 11:20 the air is smoky, as brusque and sweating servers drop plates at tables with cordless phones wedged between ear and shoulder. It's comforting, and the prices have barely budged, too. Indeed, three can feast for less than $40.

Imperial rolls (here with rice and pork kebab) were excellent, crisp and peppery. A lemon beef salad was less successful, lacking — in the words of a chef acquaintance — any punch or balance of flavors.

A pork-and-bean-cake dish was the standout, bursting with ginger, the bean cake custard-like through the center. Sour fish soup got mixed reactions (lack of balance again, although the fish was light and flaky) but might have fit better had it arrived first rather than last. Overall, the pork dishes are the best bet, just as at Tu Lan 1.0.

And Julia is still there, relegated to a photocopy of a photocopy at the back of the menu, a secondhand boast from 1981. She's a benevolent totem now. The Tonga Room may have barely changed at all in its recent renovation, but Tu Lan changed exactly enough.

About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Bio:
Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Fear FestEvil 2015
    Calibree Photography brings back photos from Fear FestEvil 2015 at Rockbar Theater in San Jose on Friday, April 11. Performances included freak shows, and bands: Ghoul, Orchid, and High On Fire.
  • Cherry Blossom Festival @ Japantown
    Beth LaBerge brings back photos from the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival. Events continue next weekend including the parade on April 19.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed