The Bun Cha From My Father's Kitchen In Pacific Heights Puts Soup To Shame

A Northern Vietnamese specialty that puts soup to shame

The popularity of pho is no mystery–big bowls of noodle soup cut across cultural lines.

But to begin and end your exploration of Vietnamese food there would be a shame, particularly if you're visiting the recently opened My Father's Kitchen.

Though the Northern-style pho here is satisfying enough, the standout dish on the compact menu is the bun cha ($11), a Hanoi specialty.

Back in the kitchen, 60-year-old Henry Nguyen (the father referenced in the restaurant's name)–who grew up in Haiphong, North Vietnam–makes his superlative version.

Pork meatballs and marinated, grilled slices of pork shoulder are combined in a golden liquid made from the Vietnamese holy trinity: fish sauce, sugar and vinegar, with the addition of minced garlic and a garnish of pickled jicama and carrots. On the side, a bountiful plate of vermicelli noodles and another of lettuce and herbs (including mint, cilantro, purple perilla and Thai basil) provide necessary heft and brightness.

For the interactive diner, this is where the fun begins: Dunk the noodles in the sauce, pile onto a lettuce leaf along with bits of meat and herbs, roll and eat, burrito-style. Repeat. Now what was that you were saying about soup?

My Father's Kitchen, 1655 Divisadero St. (at Sutter St.); 415-829-2610 or