San Francisco: Turtle Tower

When T asked me if I wanted pho for breakfast, I was more than a little skeptical.  Pho for breakfast?  I'd never heard of that.  She convinced me that that's what all the Vietnamese people do, so we met up with my old college roomie at Turtle Tower Saturday morning:

I shouldn't have doubted T.  Check out the line at 10 in the morning:

Apparently I've been missing out on some good breakfast for the last 23 years.

We let T do all the ordering because she obviously knows her stuff:

T told me a long time ago that Turtle Tower has the most authentic North Vietnamese food.  What Turtle Tower is really known for is its chicken pho.  I'd never had chicken pho before so we definitely couldn't miss out on that.  We ordered a large pho ga long, which is chicken pho with chicken giblets.  (Gizzards!)

I.  Loved.  It.

The soup was so clean and light.  The noodles were a bit wider than the pho noodles I'm used to and that made me love it all the more.  The chicken was insanely juicy too.

In traditional North Vietnamese fashion, we were not given a platter of bean sprouts and basil leaves, but were instead presented with some chilies and a few slices of lemon.  I didn't go the chili route, but lemon always adds a special spark to pho.

We also tried a small pho tai, which is a rare beef noodle soup.  The beef didn't come sliced as you often see in pho, but was instead almost...mashed.  Super tender and super fresh.  None of that overcooked stuff you sometimes get.  The beef soup was good too, but I still preferred the chicken.

Just to mix things up, we ordered the bun cha ha noi, which is dry vermicelli noodle with grilled pork patty and sliced pork on the side in some fish sauce concoction:

The sauce was a bit sweeter than I expected, but still quite light.  I really, really enjoyed the pork patties, especially since the day before I was treated by my union lawyer to the same dish at another restaurant and the pork patties there were tough and chewy.  The pork patties at Turtle Tower were by far tastier.

I'm now a believer.  Forgive me, T.  I will never second guess you again.  Everyone should have pho for breakfast.  Especially pho from Turtle Tower.

Turtle Tower Restaurant
631 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94109


  1. Hi Amy :)

    Sorry for the short notice – we saw that you loved Turtle Tower (and honestly loved your writing voice - haha. excited to meet you, hopefully :P). We're a startup called Simmr and we're hosting a unique event with Turtle Tower this Tuesday, October 29 ( It'll feature an exclusive, guided tour with Chef and Owner Steven of their new open kitchen where they'll show you all the steps of how they make and assemble their amazingggg pho. Afterwards, everybody will get to customize their own off-menu bowl of pho. :) if you're free, we'd love for you to join and cover the event!


  2. Oh no! I totally saw the invite too late! Hope it was a great event!


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