We stumbled across Ana Mandara after being told about it on our Segway tour. Apparently owned by Don Johnson (and others), this restaurant offers modern vietnamese cuisine. The interior is amazing, opening up into an oriental oasis and a haven from the tourist-central Fisherman’s Wharf area it sits in.
I’ll warn you now. The restaurant isn’t cheap and although we had a look at the menu before sitting down, didn’t realise how much the entire meal would cost us in the end after ordering. Starters begin at USD10 ranging up to normal main meal prices at other places (USD20) whilst mains began at USD20 and went to USD30. The meals are aptly named like the Temple’s Delight involving a plethora of vegetables mixed together with a miso sauce or the Dreams of Sea and Fire, a crab soup with house made noodles.
We started with the Honourable Road or what other asian restaurants might simply label as the Mixed Appetisers. Perhaps much of the USD31 for the plate went into the naming. Fortunately most of the components of the dish were pretty good. The fresh summer rolls arrived with a huge prawn, the chicken satay nice and smoky and the tender grilled beef succulent and moist. The calamari was probably the only disappointment remaining rather soft and lifeless and not with the crispness, or spice I’d expect.
I really enjoyed the Pieces of Gold (USD24) or a spicy caramelised claypot fish that they scooped out of the claypot and served on the plate. I’d hoped for something sizzling but instead we had some generously sized chunks of fish covered in a nice sauce. Considering the spice levels typically found in a vietnamese place, they could have used much more chili and failed to live up to its spicy name. I asked for some extra chilli sauce on the side that made up for it. We got some noodles as the side and some eggplant vegetables as well.
My sister wanted to try the Memories of Nha Trang (USD36). I’m a bigger fan of crab than lobster. I think the fun of lobster is over far too quickly, with the meat often more tough and less flavourful than its shellfish brethren. In this case, the lobster was covered in a tomato based sauce. It had some flavour and their presentation made the task of picking out the lobster flesh even easier. As I predicted though, it was over a bit too soon although I thought the flavours should have been sharper in a dish like this.
Although a nice experience, I don’t think I would return to Ana Mandara. With so many other offerings in San Francisco, I don’t think it offered the grace and wonder the prices demonstrate. This place feels like one you would want to take a nice date. The upstairs area looked great for sitting around, indulging in some drinks and absorbing the nice restaurant feel. It didn’t really work for a dinner place for a couple of tourists looking for a great meal around the Fisherman’s Wharf area.
Name: Ana Mandara
Found at: 891 Beach Street San Francisco, CA 94109, United States