Betelnut Restaurant on Union Street

Apologies for my long absence! I just came back from an amazing vacation back on the east coast in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I also was proposed to by “the bf” that I refer to a lot on this blog (one of my eating partners in crime and actually the main funding source of my dining experiences hahaha)! So it’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I plan on continuing this blog and hopefully I will be able to blog about a lot of cool recipes and tastings throughout my wedding planning process.

Betelnut is an extremely popular restaurant in the Marina area of San Francisco. I’d been excited to try it out ever since I arrived to the city in late February. It features innovative Asian cuisine and is modeled after “pejiu wu” or side street beer houses of the Far East.

I started to get nervous when I saw the reviews on Yelp; it only has a combined rating of 3.5 stars and the term “overrated” sprinkles the commentary more often than not. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to meet these meticulous Yelpers in San Francisco. I’ve mentioned in a few of my posts, sometimes I think the reviews on Yelp aren’t quite accurate in this city. Maybe it’s a by-product of continually being around the best food ever?

There is nothing wrong with having overly high standards. In my opinion though, it is always best to keep in mind what the chef and/or owner’s overall objective was with their establishment. They just might not be trying to achieve a Michelin-star rating…or provide classically trained servers for your pleasure. And call me crazy, but Betelnut’s popularity begs to differ with a lot of the low reviews.

Due to this popularity, Betelnut is a restaurant that will always be crowded unless you like dining at 5pm. If you don’t like crowds, avoid this place. We ate around 6pm and were lucky enough to snag a table in the front area of the restaurant near the bar after a 20-minute wait (without reservations). They have a pretty decent cocktail selection with crafty and unique drinks.

I suggest trying this restaurant with a group of people and ordering various dishes to share. We ordered the kobe beef, the glazed pork short ribs with garlic and thai basil (featured above), the vegetable spring rolls, “little dragon” pork dumplings, and their famous szechuan green beans.

Everything was packed with mucho flavor; the word decadent comes to mind. It was also very unique to my Washington, DC taste. I can’t think of any restaurant in the DC area that is comparable to Betelnut. I recommend this place to anyone who enjoys intense flavors, Asian cuisine, or trying new things. It’s worth the wait and the crowds in my opinion, and deserving of the hype.