Hi lovelies! Hope that you are having a great week so far! It feels nice to be back in the land of the living and even though I still don’t have my energy back, I’m feeling much better. Before I basically dropped off the face of the earth, I had the opportunity to try a new restaurant with one of my girlfriends that I’m dying to tell you about!
Betelnut, located in San Francisco’s Marina/Cow Hollow district is a restaurant I’d wanted to visit after seeing it on the 7×7 Big Eat list in both 2012 and 2011. Offering contemporary Asian cuisine, Betelnut has a casual, upbeat atmosphere and though it looks tiny from the front, actually is fairly large for an SF restaurant and is able to accommodate larger parties.
We started the night off with drinks and decided on two Sake flights. I was excited to try the different types of Sake but later realized that I don’t actually like the taste of Sake. However, they also had an impressive drink menu and next time I think I’ll go for a fun cocktail instead!
When it came time to order everything looked good so we decided to just get a few dishes to share. We started with Chicken Lettuce wraps which is the dish that is featured on the Must Eat list in San Francisco. I love lettuce wraps in general and have always thought that the chain restaurant PF Changs made some pretty delicious ones. Well, I can officially say they have been beaten. The flavor of the minced chicken and vegetables in the crisp cabbage was to die for and both my friend and I could not stop eating them even though we knew that we had many more courses on their way!
Next up were the Happy Buddha Dumplings with pea tendrils, tofu and fried shallots. Sadly my picture was too blurry to post, but these were the perfect appetizer. Light and flavorful these little doughy morsels had me wishing every vegetarian appetizer could be this good. And although I don’t usually eat fried food, the tiny fried shallots made this dish, giving it the perfect amount of crunch to compliment the chewy dumpling.
Sticking with appetizers, we next tried the Xinjiang Cumin Lamb, chili raita in warm sesame buns. Lamb is a meat that I rarely eat, but it was prepared perfectly in this dish. The waitress had warned us that it might be too similar to the lettuce wraps, but the only thing they had in common was the minced meat! These were slightly spicy and perfectly complimented by a cool yogurt sauce. Also, the sesame bun was different than I expected as these resembled miniature tacos with a slightly crunchy exterior and thick, doughy interior.
We rounded out our meal with something I had been really looking forward to after spotting them at another table- the Szechuan Green beans. I’m a big green bean fan anyway, but these are the best green beans I have ever had. Coated in spices but missing an oily sauce, these were perfectly tender while still maintaining a crunch. I will go back for these green beans alone!
And then, because we sat a long time chatting (and let’s face it, digesting) we decided to go for dessert. Everything on the dessert menu looked amazing but we decided to go for the mochi dessert. Each rice cake was filled with a different type of chocolate (white, dark and milk) and paired with different mini desserts. To be honest, the pairings didn’t really interest me except for the hot chocolate which, as it turns out, was the spiciest hot chocolate I have ever tasted. I had expected it to taste like Mexican hot chocolate but it was much, much spicier. It wasn’t my favorite dessert but it was fun to have something so unusual.
As you can tell, I loved Betelnut. It is now in the running for one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants and I can’t wait to go back and try some of the other delicious menu items. My only complaint is that their full-size entrees were heavy on the pork (which I don’t eat) and were missing vegetarian options. However, when I go out for Chinese food, I love to eat small plates, so it didn’t really bother me.
-Do you like Chinese food?
-What’s your favorite Chinese food dish?
-Are you a Sake fan?
Interested in other restaurant reviews? Check out my Restaurant Review page!