Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ana Mandera
One of my favorite restaurants in the city is Ana Mandera, which serves up French-accented Vietnamese fare in Guiradelli Square. The interior is absolutely beautiful, and the attention to detail transports you back to the coloniel Vietnam days.
It's really pretty at night, but even during the day the place is well lit and peaceful. There is a sweeping staircase above a koi pond that leads to a loungy alcove, where there is a live jazz band.
The Lemon grass curry chicken with glass noodles was really good. The noodles were springy and delicate, and the chicken was sliced thin and lean. The flavor was excellent, well-seasoned and not at all over-salted. It reminded me of the cellophane noodles at Slanted Door, which is always a good thing.

The sauteed shrimp with tomato rice wine sauce and Asian noodles was pretty good too. The tomato sauce was fresh and chunky, and the shrimp was fresh and crisp. The noodles also had a good spring. Compared to the curry chicken, however, I felt this dish's flavor was a bit bland and not as captivating.

The seared mekong basa, scallion flowers, and spicy lemon sauce was alright. Catfish is probably my least favorite fish because of its muddy flavor; this one, however, didn't seem to have any of that muddy taste. The texture was really smooth, but I found it a bit firm. The sauce was also a bit too sweet; the lemon sauce should have had more lemon. I really liked the bed of snow pea shoots under the fish. Delicate and aromatic, it really added flavor and texture to the fish.
The Valrhona dark chocolate semi freddo was great. It was light and melted in your mouth, but rich enough that the chocolate coated your palate. The fresh vanilla cream was delicious too.

They use Mighty Leaf tea here, my favorite brand. I always ponder how they sew those tea bags!

Service was attentive and not at all obstrusive. Good food and inspired decor always makes for a good meal here.

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