Best Vietnamese Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurant San Francisco 2003 - Cordon Bleu
The place is tiny (the Formica counter fronting the open grill seats eight, and there are just three tables tucked in the back), and the menu is, too. There are only five items on offer at Cordon Bleu: imperial rolls, aka spring rolls; shish kebab, which here does not involve any kind of a skewer but is razor-thin slices of rib-eye steak, soaked in a sugary marinade and crisped on the grill; country salad, which is largely chopped cabbage; meat sauce on rice; and chicken, rubbed with Asian five-spice powder (star anise, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, and Sichuan peppercorns), roasted, and reheated on the grill. You can try all of the five dishes if you order the No. 5 combination plate, at $7.40. And you will learn to your delight that the menu's boast -- "Possibly the best chicken you will ever have outside of Vietnam" -- is simple truth.