on January 7, 2012
We went Brandy Ho’s Hunan restaurant in the Chinatown area of San Francisco for lunch one day after reading a review of it in one of the city guides we found in our hotel room. We went for lunch and had a set menu that was on offer.-About the Restaurant-The restaurant opened in the 1980s when the three brothers that own and run the place moved over from Hong Kong and completing training. I have never had Hunan food before, nor had I ever even heard of it, but it is quite similar to Chinese food but is much more natural using simple ingredients and spices. -Location and First Impressions-The restaurant is located just on the edge of Chinatown at 217 Columbus Avenue. It is very close to the Transamerica Pyramid, so is very easy to find once you have located the distinctive building. There is underground parking available very close to the restaurant.The first impression I got from the restaurant is that it is very proudly family run – from the signs outside to the warm welcome you receive inside, you get the distinct impression that the owners are very proud of their restaurant and the reputation it has. The restaurant is very large inside and stylishly decorated with none of the usual trappings of Oriental restaurants (waving cats anyone?!). We were surprised to find that, even at lunch time, it was quite busy. Despite this, the number of staff and size of the restaurant meant that we didn’t have to wait for a table.-The Food and Service-We opted for the set menu that had been advertised outside – just $10 per person (around £7), we got green tea, a combination of starters, a main course and a fruit salad dessert. The starters included an absolutely delicious onion bread that was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before – very light and fluffy. This was served with a choice of soups and a delicious fresh salad of pickled vegetables. We both opted for the hot and sour soup which was exactly that and packed full of flavour from the mixture of vegetables, chillis and meat used in it.For the main course we went for a sweet and sour chicken dish with fried rice and a chilli mince dish served with noodles. The chicken was delicious and the fried rice light and fluffy. The beef dish was an odd one, it was a bit like having Bolognese sauce with noodles. It tasted very nice but was not what we expected to find in a Chinese restaurant and not quite as good as everything else. For the main course, you could choose from a number of dishes – it was a pretty comprehensive selection and not at all like the usual restrictive choices you get on a day time set menu.The service was impeccable, the staff couldn’t have done more if they tried. The time between the courses was the perfect amount – we didn’t feel rushed, nor were we left waiting at any point. The staff were all well presented in matching smart uniforms. I also enjoyed the fact that the kitchen was open plan and so you could see everything as it was being cooked.-Price and Overall Value for Money-Like I said we had a set menu for $10 each and added to the couple of soft drinks we had, the total bill including taxes and tips was less than $40 which is unbelievably good value for the amount of food we had and for the quality of both the food and the service.Overall I would have no hesitation in recommending the restaurant because it’s cheap, offers good service and comfortable surroundings and you can try something new.
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