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Bun Bo Hue at Jasmine Garden

Jasmine Garden's Bun Bo Hue

Jasmine Garden’s Bun Bo Hue

Two doors down from what used to be called The Transfer on 14th Street is Jasmine Garden, a fairly un-assuming Vietnamese restaurant.  It is nestled right in the crook of one of S.F’s major transportation hubs (from which was derived the name of the above-mentioned bar), the meeting of Church and Market Streets, where converge multiple muni rail and bus lines.  You would think that the freneticism inherent in its location would breed a sense of streamlined urgency into The Garden’s general demeanor and modus operandi, but instead it has responded in the other direction, having some of the most relaxed and friendly service of any Pho joint I’ve been to.  Which is not to say I require a shit-eating grin and  several soupcons of obsequiousness to enjoy a meal, but it’s nice to be greeted with a smile.

The warm, glowing center of Jasmine Garden, and from which I expect radiates its overall approach to service, is the husband and wife who own it.  She, stocky, bustling and cheerful, runs the front of the house; he, tall and lanky with a mischievous grin, runs the back.  He’s a clean-shaven Gandalf The Grey with his soups, brewing up a fantastically rich Bun Bo Hue.

Bun Bo Hue, for the uninitiated is similar to Pho but with a dark, velvety and hot beef broth and slightly thicker noodles.  The usual bouquet of basil and/or mint and sliced jalapeño come on the side, but instead of bean sprouts, which normally accompany Pho, the Hue comes with raw, shredded cabbage.  The broth itself is hard to describe, so I’ll just list a couple more ingredients and let you make a cocktail of the imagination: in addition to the beef stock there’s anise, clove, lemongrass, shallots and garlic.  Kapow! A fiery cauldron of heaven for a pittance.  Go for the soup, stay for the service and special holiday hugs from a small Vietnamese lady.  Or vice versa.

Jasmine Garden
708 14th Street (@ Church)
[The Castro]

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Fatt Mink

Fatt Mink

Matt was born into a family of dreamy-eyed bookworms and staunch leftists in downtown San Jose, California. The sperm of the writing arts have long swam in his blood looking for the ovum of inspiration. However, his first love was music rather than literature; in 2002 he moved to San Francisco and studied Music and Italian, graduating in 2007. His move to S.F. coincided with the urgent need to pay his way; thus he joined the teeming ranks of the restaurant industry, where he still slaves away tending bar in the city's finer purveyors of food and grog, giving him a ground-level perspective which informs his writings about the Bay Area's ever-expanding culinary scene.