With its gated door and window, South Pacific Island Restaurant looks like it's closed, even when it's open. The area's only Samoan eatery is across the street and down the block from the Cow Palace, on the border between San Francisco and Daly City. Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the cash-only establishment serves food cafeteria-style, dishing out mainly to-go orders, though there are a few tables inside the festive room.
A styrofoam container is stuffed to the gills for the combo plate ($13.99), which gives you a choice of three main items and sides of banana and taro. The latter two items, covered in coconut cream, were the least tasty and attractive components of our meal, all starch and no flavor, but we had better luck with our mains of mussel soup, fasi povi (corned beef), and sapa sui (a salty take on chop suey). The beef was moist, tender, and flaked apart easily, a juicier take than what we'd typically encounter on St. Patrick's Day, while the soup was creamy and comforting, with whole mussels swimming in their own broth. Yelpers seem to universally like the si'usi'u pipi (turkey tail), but it wasn't on offer the day of our visit. Ditto for the peach and pineapple pies and coconut buns, which are weekend specials.