The City comes to the ‘burbs

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Light, bright and airy is key to the design of The Slanted Door

For quite some time, the restaurant most booked on Opentable has been The Slanted Door, on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.  So successful has it been that now they have opened a branch in the new City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon.

Mike texted and asked if Gail and I wanted to give it a try, his treat.  Although Mike is a generous man, I couldn’t think of a reason for this kind invitation.  It isn’t my birthday, Christmas is 7 months away, he certainly doesn’t need to borrow the rent money.  I finally decided he was still feeling guilty for the 5♣ bid he made in Gatlinburg.

City Center is a huge new development just off Bollinger Road, so hip, slick and cool there aren’t any indications outside of what is inside–we drove around and around until Gail prevailed on a security guard to lead us to the restaurant–which is right next to the entrance, if only they would tell you it was there.

The first impression I got from the restaurant was aural–this place is loud.  Really loud.  Concrete floors, hard tables, noisy flatware and china, music blaring.  So loud I pulled up the sound meter on my phone and noted it was 83 decibels there.  That may be a good thing if you want the young and energetic to be revved up, it’s a bad thing for us old codgers who struggle to hear in the best of circumstances.

Other than the sound, the place is beautiful.  High ceilings, all glass walls (which reflect sound), lots of light and air. Very modern, very chic.

The food is pan-Asian fusion. Beautifully designed small plates representing the best of Asian cuisine.  Get a bunch of them and share is the way to go here.

I’m a huge fan of green papaya salad.  I love the crunch of the papaya and the tang of the dressing.  This is one of the best:

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I’m not sure it’s fair to rate dishes across cuisines.  Micky and I had some darned good ribs in Gatlinburg last month, but how do you compare southern ribs with Asian?  These were excellent, but a complete world apart from the ones in Tennessee.

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The south cooks these ribs low and slow for that fall-off-the-bone tenderness.  Asia doesn’t have the fuel for that, so the ribs are cooked faster for a more solid meatiness.  The sauces are completely different.  There’s just no comparison, they are two completely different dishes with the same base meat.  I like them both.

Our consensus favorite was the cellophane noodles with crab.

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This dish is so far out of my ability and expertise that I don’t know what to say except that you should order it.

The signature dish of The Slanted Door is shaking beef:

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Linda and Gail wrestling for their share

Not unlike Mongolian Beef, this dish is tender slices of beef cooked with onion, green onion and lots of spices.  We ordered rice to pour it over, the better to savor the sauce.

The San Ramon version of The Slanted Door is just as good as the one in the city, albeit noisier.  Courtesy of Mr. Bandler’s generosity,  I have no comment on the pricing but this isn’t your local China Garden.  It’s somewhere in City Center Bishop Ranch.  I suggest you try to find it.

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