The Rice Table
Asia delights! Exotic, hot & sensational FOOD!

A Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco, CA.

< read all 2 reviews

I Used to Joke That "I Wouldn't Give Up Tu Lan For No Woman!"....

  • Mar 27, 2010
  • by

Let me tell you a story…the man called “woopak” can go around places that most people would be terrified to go to. Honestly, whatever the so-called “bad areas” in San Francisco are nothing compared to the slums of my native land. Way back between the year 1997 and 1998, a real gorgeous lady friend of mine (you know who you are) took me to a restaurant that can definitely be seen as a ‘HOLE IN THE WALL”. This restaurant was located in a place that had a real bad reputation during that time (it‘s gotten a lot better since 2001); dope dealers were loitering around, homeless folks were sleeping on the sidewalk, panhandlers and imbalanced men were all around.
Yet, along Sixth Street, between Market and Mission Streets, I saw a line of regular office people who were wearing $ 700 suits (expensive during this time) while some were obviously reporters from the nearby San Francisco Chronicle offices. The line led to a fluorescent-lit small restaurant that looked like a tiny “bodega” with burn marks on the walls of the stove area. The kitchen is clean but it just looks like one of those small warehouses. The place reeked of the scent of great tasting food and this extraordinary place was called “Tu Lan”, a place where they serve authentic Vietnamese food. Me, being who I am, would never judge anything by the way it looked so me and my friend took a seat and enjoyed the great fresh food that Tu Lan served.

       I Used to Joke That
It has been many years since that first visit and the memorable day when I was introduced to this restaurant. I’ve since taken several of my friends to this place and we often take food home from this restaurant. Tu Lan also became my ‘testing ground’ for my 5th to 6th dates, since I can see how much I can relate to a woman with the way she reacts to a place that doesn’t look fancy yet they serve better food than the expensive Vietnamese restaurants down in Clement. To make things short, I take the woman I really like to “Tu Lan” just to see her roll her eyes with one look at the place and then later, smile with delight when served with the fantastic tasting marinated fish and possibly the best fried rice in town. I can afford gourmet restaurants, but ladies, next to me actually cooking for you, if I take you to Tu Lan, then I really like you.
Today, “Tu Lan” has become a lot less like a ‘bodega’ and more like a small eatery; and yes, the burn marks in the kitchen are gone and the counter is much more larger and made "spiffier"  these days. I like sitting by the counter as I can see the fresh ingredients make their way to the pots and pans. You won’t see a single can in Tu Lan’s kitchen, everything is made from scratch; from the roll wrappers and the noodles to the smallest shrimp, they are all fresh. The cooks and servers have no uniform, they just wear regular t-shirt and jeans. The cooks have hats and huge aprons and they are all Vietnamese.
The Ginger Chicken is just marvelous and # 24 is just so good. Make sure you bring your appetite when you come to Tu Lan because you are in for a feast. Tu Lan also has daily specials and the sweet and sour prawn soup is to die for. They have combo plates and my favorite is the pork kebab with imperial rolls over steamed rice. The marinated fish is also a favorite as well as the Hanoi style noodle soup. However, you just have to try their fried rice; made with pork, chicken, beef or shrimp. Round up the meal with a dessert of either fried banana or pineapple, and you will go home very satisfied. 



I have to admit that I prefer taking my favorite Tu Lan dishes home so that I can relax and really enjoy it. The place does get so packed with people that often, I feel like I am being rushed with the meal. The food is just so satisfying in this extraordinary restaurant that waves after waves of new and older customers just keep on coming back. I’m a regular customer at “Tu Lan” and they know me in this place. I try to go to the place at least once a month, and I am happy to report that all of the friends I’ve taken there have all become regular customers. Also, don't let the lighted signage on its side fool you; TU LAN is NOT fast food, but GREAT food made fast! The owners just decided to keep the sign despite the fact that they made a mistake in the interpretation of "fast food".

“Tu Lan is worth the trip to 6th Street, and not to worry, the dope dealers don’t loiter within 100 yards of the place. A lot of cops come by to eat there. “Tu Lan” is great eatin’! Or am I just being biased because up to this day, they still charge me their old prices back in 2000 and they still give me huge portions? My friends always have me with them when they buy their food. Well, I would pay almost any price for a plate of that shrimp fried rice!
I Used to Joke That I Used to Joke That I Used to Joke That I Used to Joke That I Used to Joke That I Used to Joke That

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
November 25, 2011
Whoa - I find it really interesting that you would take a woman to a restaurant and use it as a "testing ground" - what a unique and fabulous idea! Sounds like a great place to go--too bad I live in WV LOL - and I do love your title!!!
November 25, 2011
I like women who doesn't mind getting dirty. (more ways than one LOL)
November 25, 2011
LOL - I admire your taste!
April 07, 2010
Dude when I hit Cali I will be sure to visit this place, gotta get some of that Ginger Chicken or # 24 was it. Excellent review.
March 31, 2010
I want garlic chicken more than anything right about now!!!
March 31, 2010
like me, you like almost anything with garlic? ;-P
March 31, 2010
Almost anything. I don't do viscera, or bugs or snails etc. But regular almost anything else with garlic is great. When we were in San Francisco we made a point of going to The Stinking Rose for dinner one night. That was fun.
March 29, 2010
I don't care if there are $700 suit guys around, I won't settle French Laundry for this! You don't have to like me very much as long as I get my French Laundry, LOL....
March 29, 2010
I hate you...I'll just buy you fishballs in the corner. GGGGrrrr....LOL!
March 29, 2010
Haha... only guys who are infatuated with me buys me fishballs & that's some decades ago!
March 28, 2010
Whoa, this is one of the most awesome restaurant reviews I've ever read! I love Vietnamese food and I super love hole-in-the-wall establishments, so I'll have to check this out. Thanks for the heads up, Woo! :)
March 29, 2010
you're too kind. Your reviews put this to shame...but I have to say I had fun writing it.
More Tu Lan reviews
Quick Tip by . February 25, 2010
A "Hole in the Wall" place that serves the BEST Fried Rice and Spring Rolls! Fresh, tasty and critically acclaimed by the SF Chronicle
About the reviewer
William ()
Ranked #3
Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
© 2015, LLC All Rights Reserved - Relevant reviews by real people.
The Rice Table is part of the Network - Get this on your site
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since