Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Out The Door

Last week, I had an interesting problem.  I needed to get a little bit more food to supplement a dinner we were having at work (long story!)  I had to be able to pick the food up a few hours in advance, and didn't have facilities for re-heating it, but I could store things in a refrigerator.  So I needed cold items that could hold up for a few hours.  And ideally, I didn't want to go far to get it.

I quickly settled on Out The Door, in the nearby Ferry Building.  They are the casual takeout spin-off of the Slanted Door, known for having pretty good Vietnamesse food.  I've been many times, and although I've never raved about it, it has always been pretty reliable, and I knew I could ask to have the salads undressed so I could mix them at serving time, and figured things like spring rolls would hold up well.

There are several other Out The Doors too - one in Pacific Heights that was really awful last time I was there, but where I'd gotten decent take-out before, and a now closed one in the Westfield Mall that I used to love.  The Ferry Building outpost I've mostly used just for their cooking kits and baked goods, but I've always been a fan of them.

The food pretty much met my expectations.  All solid, decently priced, and certainly filled my needs.  Nothing was amazing, but nothing was bad.  I'd go again in a situation like this.
Taro Milk Boba.  $3.50.
While I was waiting, I got really excited when I noticed that they had taro milk boba! Unfortunately, I hated it.  The tapioca was decent, not gloopy or anything, but the taro milk part was really bad tasting.  I love the taste of taro, so it wasn't just me not liking taro.  It was also a strange thickness, presumably from the taro?

Sadly, I prefer the fake version from Quickly much more, and I wouldn't get another.
Fresh Spring Rolls. $8.00.
The non-vegetarian spring rolls are filled with gulf shrimp, pork, mint, lettuce, and vermicelli.  I ordered mine without the pork, as I don't like it.  The rice paper wrapper was fresh and had a good chew to it.  There wasn't too much of the vermicelli noodles (I hate it when rolls are 90% noodles!).  There were plentiful greens, that were fresh, crisp, and really made the rolls feel light and refreshing.  The shrimp was disappointing however, fairly fishy tasting.  Overall, a well executed roll, but I didn't love it.  They held up fine for a few hours.

The vegetarian version came filled with tofu, shiitake, cabbage, and mint.  They were likewise fairly well executed, but unremarkable.

The peanut sauce, which I was hoping to love, was just thick and gloopy, and I didn't care for it at all.

Overall, I just didn't like these much.  $8 is a fair price for rolls of this size, they are $12 in the restaurant.
Niman Ranch Beef Salad.  $9.50.
The salad gave no details on the menu, just that it was a Niman Ranch Beef Salad with oranges.  I'm not quite sure what I expected, but sounded better than it was.  It was basically just a mixed greens salad, with some slices of valencia orange, red onion, and crispy taro root.  I liked the crispy taro strips, but the rest of it, besides the beef, was fairly standard, and the red onion very harsh and a strange pairing with the sweet orange.  The beef was good: thinly sliced, with a really nice crust on it, well seasoned.

Overall: meh.  Would not get again, and didn't really seem worth the $9.50 price tag, particularly compared to prices of the other dishes.
Green Papaya Salad. $8.00
When I lived in Sydney, I got hooked on papaya salad.  Some places there made ridiculously good versions!  This was good, but fairly standard.  It contained shredded green papaya, shredded carrot, fried tofu strips, crispy shallots, roasted peanuts.  But not a whole lot of flavor, even with the dressing.  Fresh tasting ingredients, and I liked the crunch from the peanuts and crispy shallots, but still, fairly unremarkable.

I had some left over, and ate it the next day at lunch, and actually enjoyed it more.  The tofu and shallots were no longer crispy, which clearly wasn't as good, but the papaya soaked up the delicious dressing.

$8 was a good price for a large salad, normally $12 at the restaurant.
White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry Gelee and Cookie Crumble, Salted Caramel Pot De Crème .  $5 each.
And finally ... desserts!  They offered four types of puddings, each layered, served in little jars.  You know how much I love puddings, so it was really hard to pick just two!

The first was my favorite.  The main layer was a creamy white chocolate mousse.  It was intensely white chocolate flavored.  So often things claim to be "white chocolate" and are really just fakely sweet.  This was actually very identifiable as white chocolate.  The bottom layer was strawberry gelee.  It was sweet, and a good flavor paired with the white chocolate.  The cookie crumble on top was I think a sugar cookie, and added a nice textural element.  This dish reminded me of cheesecake in many ways, creamy and rich, with fruit and cookie components somewhat mimicking crust and topping.  It was a bit hard to get a bite with all three layers since the jar was fairly narrow.  Overall, successful, and I'd eat it again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

The next was the salted caramel pot de crème.  It was basically a sweet pudding, with a layer of very runny salted caramel, with whipped cream on top.  The overall consistency was too thin for my liking, a bit hard to eat, particularly the middle layer.  It was also too sweet.  I think it may have paired really well with a black coffee, but on its own, it was a bit over the top.  The salted caramel flavor was good though, and I did enjoy it, but probably wouldn't get again.

$5 was a fine price for desserts of this size, and the desserts were definitely the highlight of the meal.


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