I rarely get over to Betelnut for dinner but last night I sat at the smooth, red counter and ordered a bowl of the Malaysian curry laksa soup. What a perfect bowl of comfort. The shrimp were plump, the shredded chicken tender, the kinked up noodles springy. It was all bathing in a rich, fragrant coconut curry a pumpkin color of orange that could stop traffic. It warmed me up as I shivered my way through yet another restaurant in SF with an open-door policy. (As in the front door is kept open even on windy, cold summer nights.)
Now that Charles Phan is about to open his latest restaurant, Heaven's Dog & Noodle Shop, comparisons between the San Francisco super-star chef and his New York equivalent, Momofuku empire-keeper David Chang, seem inevitable. They both now preside over some of the best-loved restaurants in their respective cities, serving Asian food with a decidedly modern bent. Reservations are hard to come by at both Slanted Door and Momofuku, Ko and Momofuku Ssam bar. Chang's recently opened Momofuku Bakery–Milk Bar is his fourth venture, and Heaven's Dog makes baby number three for Phan.