San Francisco is a city of secrets. No matter how long you live here, there is always another rock to be turned over. There is always another surprise waiting for you around the corner. And the latest gem I’ve unearthed is a little bowl of soup that is as easy on the wallet as it is on the palate.
DragonEats is a banh mi shop on Gough Street in Hayes Valley (with additional locations on Haight Street and on Folsom Street in SoMa). Its menu has tasty Vietnamese treats like five-spiced chicken vermicelli bowls, plump fresh rolls with shrimp and mint, and fatty roasted duck banh mi. Although the food may not be as quote-unquote traditional as other Vietnamese delis like Saigon Sandwich, DragonEats brings a different take to this venerable street food.
As tasty as a veg-heavy sandwich on a baguette sounds, I rarely come here for that. On breezy days, when I’m craving something hot, cheap, and quick, I come for a particular item that’s rarely seen on the chalkboard menu, a tiny bowl of the most satisfying soup in the hood.
For only $3.25, DragonEats serves an exquisite little bowl of ginger, kale, and lime soup. Crispy fried onions and crunchy kale float on the surface of an opaque green broth that looks like a savory little pond. This fist-sized paper bowl blazes bouquets of tangy citrus and spicy ginger. It’s ideal for sipping on the go and has an aftertaste of earthy, leafy vegetables. It’s clean and the flavors are tight and balanced. I know this soup sounds incredibly simple, but this little tasty treat is one of the best quick service soups around town. It always hits the spot and at just the right time.
Everyone loves a healthy snack. Everyone loves a cheap lunch. But more than anything, everyone loves a good secret.
DragonEats, 520 Gough St., dragoneats.com