Touching down at San Francisco International Airport brought a flurry of excitement. In store for me was a five day food carnival.
After checking into the hotel we ventured out to the nearby Chinatown and found ourselves a comforting bowl of beef tendon pho. Two hours later, our appetites were knocking on the door again from perusing the local markets and the loud shouts from vegetable sellers hawking their produce, we returned to the hotel for a short rest before dinner.
It was during our brief rest at the hotel that a quick search on the internet turned up a restuarant called the Lime Tree (450A Irving St., San Francisco, CA 94122). Immediately after reading some favorable reviews, I called the restaurant and made reservations for ten with an arrival time of about 30 minutes. Score one point for the Lime Tree management for taking on reservation on short notice.
Upon on arrival, we found the restaurant located in the basement of the building. The location can be a little difficult to locate, but just look for the lime green rays of light reflecting from the walls and emanating into the street outside. Entering the premises we were greeted with the familiar aromas native to the motherland (Singapore). Would the $15 cab ride from the hotel pay off?
From the menu, we ordered (1) Roti pratha with a green curry dipping sauce; (2) Chicken Satay; (3) Beef Satay; (4) Nasi Goreng with shrimp; (5) Nasi Goreng with chicken; (6) Chili crab (based on the house recommendation and reminiscent of my visits to Singapore as a child); (7) Beef Rendang; and a few other dishes not worth mentioning.
Onto the food. The Roti pratha is something worth writing about. The roti embodied fluffiness and crispiness the way it should be and just like the old country. The green curry dipping sauce however was overly salted but had a pleasant kaffir undertone.
Satay portions were generous but that did not make up for not having a certain depth of flavor that only charcoal grilling provides. The peanut dipping sauce for the satay lended a stint of life support to the satay but was not enough to revive it. In short, the satay was nothing more than meat on a stick, in my cranky opinion.
Nasi goreng with shrimp and chicken both had good base flavors but both lacked dimension and were somewhat flat. However, a quick fix at the table was to mix in some belachan which allowed the dish to blossom and elevated its potential to be something more. Passable.
Chili crab was the house recommendation and though a little on the sweet side (versus savory) not a bad pick. I’ve had better but I’ve also had worse. Would I order it again? Possibly.
Beef rendang while monochromatic in color was alive with the flavor of lemongrass. I should note that this was a little salty as well but the lemon grass did a great job of helping one overlook the saltiness.
All in all, the management did a great job of getting us our table on such short notice. The owner and staff were all super friendly. The food while a little salty for my taste was also a little sweet and adjusted for the non-asian palate. I don’t understand how so many Yelp users can rate this with 4 and 5 stars, that is being generous in my opinion. The bottom line, Roti gets a 5 out of 5 but the rest of the menu a 3 ¼ forks.