Otherwise, the food was what we think of as Mexican: a wonderfully smoky tortilla soup ($3.25), a fish taco made with grilled (rather than batter-fried) catfish ($5.50) — healthier, no doubt, but lacking the sinful rush of crunchiness — and a quesadilla mar y tierra ($10.95), with shrimp and strips of grilled steak whose tenderness amounted to a polite rebuke of the turkey.
A neighbor recommended Will's House to me.
"It's right on 14th at Market," she said.
So it is. So was Lucky Time, which served an agreeable hodgepodge of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes in the very same space from the fall of 2004 until late this winter. One of Lucky Time's owners was Billy Deng; the proprietor of Will's House is named Will ... something. I called, wondering if Billy had become Will. At first I was told by an employee that Will's surname was Lee, then someone else got on the line to say the surname was uncertain. So, a mystery wrapped in a muddle.
The food, on the other hand, is a simpler matter. It is now "authentic Vietnamese," according to the menu card, with pho, lemongrass, Saigon salads, lotus root, and vegetarian options well represented. There is one of the better Vietnamese sandwiches in town ($5), with a choice of lemongrass chicken, grilled beef, or pork on a first-rate baguette and rounds of fresh jalapeño pepper for some real flaminess. Grilled five-spice chicken over rice ($8) has the butter-tender quality of confit, while grilled barbecue lemongrass pork rolls ($6.50) sound more heart-unfriendly than they turn out to be, with lean meat wrapped with fine noodles in uncooked rice paper.
Design-wise, not much has changed. The restaurant's interior is still cool and softly lit, and the ribbon of mirror still encircles the dining room. Plus ça morph ... SFBG
MI LINDO YUCAT