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Dragonfly

January 4, 2006

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Dragonfly is located on Judah, at the edge of the Inner Sunset commerical district. The restaurant is surrounded by humble neighbors (a donut shop, a liquor store, a laundromat, and a billboard), but upon entering, one witnesses a pleasant and very tastefully designed interior:

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Although Dragonfly and The Slanted Door would fall into the same category of contemporary Vietnamese cuisine (which is how Dragonfly bills themselves), these two restaurants are quite different. Slanted Door is designed to be a chic destination restaurant, situated in a very central, high profile location in the Ferry Building, which, these days, features far more salivating foodies than it does ferries. Dragonfly, on the other hand, has a tangibly intimate, neighborhood feel. Practically speaking, this translates into warmer, more accommodating service and lower prices. From a culinary perspective, although there a number of entrees where these two restaurants’ menus coincide, generally speaking, while The Slanted Door tends to take non-Vietnamese dishes and infuse them with Vietnamese flavors, Dragonfly takes Vietnamese dishes and give them a new zing, spark of pizzazz, and dash of imagination.

As a starter, Short Exact ordered the typical spring roll,

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which was served with a nice peanut sauce with flavors that tug the tastebuds in a few different directions simultaneously, while still blending together very well. This was followed by a simple lunchtime entree: stir-fried egg noodles with prawns, eggs, and garlic.

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The noodles were evenly-cooked, the prawns very fresh, and just the right amount of garlic was added to appropriately flavor the noodles. We were slightly disappointed that the noodles were served with store-bought sriracha rather than a more interesting sauce, but sriracha is versatile, so it was fine. This also wasn’t entirely unexpected, given that it was only a lunchtime noodle entree. At dinnertime, Dragonfly moves beyond noodle/pho dishes, and instead busts out a series of meat and seafood creations. The entrees, in general, are not at all unique or radical — but they are executed with imaginative twists. All in all, we would recommend Dragonfly. The service is very warm, friendly, and attentive. Given that it is intended to have a slightly more upscale lean, as compared to typical down-home authentic Vietnamese restaurants, Dragonfly is reasonably priced (compared to the likes of Slanted Door) — and dishes are generally well-prepared. There’s even an automatic trash dispenser in the restroom, for those who are squeamish about handling public trash cans. I would not rank Dragonfly as highly as my very favorite authentic Vietnamese joints, but it is a really nice spot, nonetheless.

RATING:

COST:

420 Judah Street (between 9th Ave. and 10th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: 415.661.7755
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:00am – 10:00 pm; Fri-Sat 11:00 am – 10:30 pm.

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Neighborhood: Inner Sunset

How to get there: The N stops right in front of Dragonfly, and Muni lines 6, 43, 44, and 66 are only steps away from the front door.

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