This is a very hip pan-asian place -- everything inside is red and black and the servers are wearing mandarin style black jackets. It was [and may still be] a difficult place to get reservations. The food was good, we thought, but not THAT good.
Where the beautiful and trendy hang out. Great decor, good food although a little pricey. I love the szechuan green beans. So good.
While I like this place, alot, I don't go that often even though I used to live within walking distance. Customer service is not their strong point. The staff can be very rude. If it looks like it's going to be that kind of experience just walk next door to Prego's or one of the dozens of other good restaurants nearby.
I loved this place! It has a great street side bar where you can have drinks before dinner. The staff is outstanding, the drinks are good and the food and atmosphere is wonderful.
Favorite Dish: Located on the Bustling Sidewalks of Union Street in San Francisco's popular Cow Hollow District, Betelnut Pejiu Wu brings the best of contemporary Asian cuisine to the West Coast's finest city. Betelnut (named after the areca nut that's wrapped with betel leaf and chewed for its exhilarating lift) is modeled after the pejiu wu, or "beer house," found throughout Southeast Asia.
Our Pejiu Wu has been described as everything from "woodsy country Asian" to "sexy back alley." Opened in September 1995, it was one of five nominees for the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant Award. Betelnut also was voted "Hottest New Restaurant" by the San Francisco Chronicle and "Hottest Restaurant in the Country" by the Boston Globe.
If you can get by the "trendy" Marina crowd, you might have a shot at sitting outdoors. If not, the interior is nice, too, though tables can be a bit close. Everything is dark wood, overhead fans, and lacquered red and gold accessories. There is an open kitchen so you can see the reasonably priced Pan-Asian cuisine being prepared. The bar serves plenty of Asian beers and potent tropical drinks; I prefer their Bloody Marys. Everyone tends to order the minced chicken in lettuce cups, which I just don't understand -- in my opinion, they're less than flavorful. About 6-7 years ago, the food was incredibly good, but it's gone downhill a bit. I still go there, but not nearly as often.
Favorite Dish: The Szechuan green beans (with garlic, soy sauce, sugar) are a winner every time! I also like their Thai som tom (i.e. green papaya salad).
This was probably the highlight of our Bay Area dining experiences, well worth the wait for a table (though who's complaining when you're sitting at the very elegant bar sipping a gin and tonic or a Pyramid beer?), since we didn't have a reservation.
The crowd here is definitely trendy, but we found the service pretty down to earth, with plenty of helpful advice from our waitress on how to navigate the menu, which is filled with 'small plates' that they suggest mixing (four for two people is plenty, especially if you have their signature Szechuan green beans, which you should!).
The restaurant decor is beautiful, with swaying fans and Oriental objects conjuring some of the romance of the east, and the people-watching is great - always a big part of our dining successes!
Favorite Dish: We loved the minced chicken - lightly spiced - that you wrap up in soft lettuce leaves and eat burrito-style. The raw tuna salad was a little spicier than we expected - very tasty, but they could have perhaps warned us! - and the green beans were fabulous. The portions were more than ample: we ate the remaining beans the next day with some bread, and they were just as good.
The cocktails are also excellent - we were particular fans of their deliciously minty 'Mao-jito'.
The restaurant draws a crowd from beyond its Union Street locale, attracting an array of locals and inconspicuous tourists. Modeled after Southeast Asian beer houses ("pejiu wu"), the red, gold and black interior lends an air of decadence tempered by the open kitchen, counter seating and bustling bar. In the dining room, circular banquettes encourage conversation and plate sharing.
Favorite Dish: Inventive pan-Asian cuisine still draws a strong crowd. The best reasons to visit are the unique tapas-style dishes, like wok-tossed dried anchovies with peanuts and fresh chilies, and tender seared squid dressed with marinated tomatoes and Thai basil. Scallion pancakes taste even better when dipped into the pepper sauce that lends the Korean char-broiled pork its fire.
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