Living in SOMA I am always on the lookout for new restaurants in the area as they seem to be few and far between. Usually when they do open they are more for the working crowd and thus only open Monday through Friday and nearly impossible to get into due to the daily lunch crush, kind of a drag. When I saw Spice Kit was newly open and they had Saturday hours I decided to try it out without the crowd.
Nestled in the ground floor of 405 Howard Street office complex the space looks like a basic take out joint. After perusing the menu you really do have to make some choices--do I want a salad, sandwich or wrap and what kind of meat? Ugh so many choices to make at a noon on a Saturday but I was the only person there (this area of town is a ghost town on Saturdays) so I kind of took my time and considered things carefully and decided to first try:
A steamed pork bun. It's grilled Kurobuta pork belly, pickled cucumbers, scallion and hoisin sauce. This was a very tasty bite, or bite and a half to be precise. The bun was soft without being sticky, the hoisin slightly sweet, the pork belly tender and juicy and the cucumber gives it some crispy texture so it's not all mushy. These I could gobble up all day--my only quibble has to be with the price--they are $2.95! each. That is a lot considering the size and even their 2 for $5 isn't that big a bargain. They are smaller than sliders and should be more like $2 or $1.95 with 2 for $3. While these are delightfully yummy I just can't justify the cost, but if you are a light eater, they are perfect.
For the rest I went with the bahn mi and got the beef short ribs and a side of lotus chips. Having just been to Vietnam in May I had a bahn mi or two while I was there and this beefed up American version is much better. The short ribs are naturally raised beef, marinated Kalbi style, braised for 24 hours and then grilled. Also on board are pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumbers, jalapeño peppers, mayo and cilantro. The baguette had a nice crunch on the outside and soft in the middle. The beef was tender and seasoned perfectly. Combine that with the flavors of the vegetables and they all blended nicely together to create a mouthful of a sandwich. Even though this was one of those $8 sandwiches I like to complain about it had much to offer, was very filling and I would plunk down the money again for one. The fresh made deep fried lotus chips were wonderfully crispy and have their own unique flavor and it took me most of the bag to figure out what it was--they reminded me of fried okra and if that makes your mouth water then these are for you.
If you have a chance and are in the area folks should check this place out. It's part of the new burgeoning quick Asian food shops that seem to be popping up all over town now. Fortunately for them they have good food and if you go on Saturday you won't feel rushed and can relax and dig into some tasty bites.