Anise Cafe on West San Carlos, SJ
Billed as "California-style Vietnamese," this place had a set menu for Father's Day, and it was better than I thought it would be. The spring rolls were fresh, while the papaya salad as well as the mango and watercress salad were both pretty good, if a bit sweet (they tended to overuse the sugar in every dish, but it was still OK). The tiger prawns grilled with tamarind sauce were stacked in a pretty tower, and were grilled with nice burnt edges too (an open fire brings out the best taste in shrimp). The parmesean spaghetti underneath the prawns was OK, if out of place. The beef salad was tender and buttery, but nothing like the Thai variety. (And oh yes, is that red streak on the plate actually a squirt of Sriracha sauce? Ha ha - it is! It just wouldn't be American Vietnamese food without it!) Finally, the mango flan was OK, if a bit sweet.
Service was a bit spotty tonight though. The servants' inexperience showed, the power went out three times during our meal, and the cooks even forgot rum on two of the mango flans. But overall it has a nice ambience and a friendly environment. It's not a bad place to go for Father's Day, although I doubt that I'd ever go there on my own accord, as it's a bit too sterile for me.