White rice or cold rice noodles made adequate accompaniments, but you're not likely to miss them if they're not there.
At lunch the servings are, if anything, even more generous than those in the evening. I struggled through a rather vast plate of garlic noodles ($7.50) tossed with shreds of sautéed beef, while a green papaya salad ($6.50) a formidable mound in its own right was augmented by steamed shrimp, halved lengthwise. The papaya in this salad was crisper than what I have found to be usual and also dressed with a bolder, more acidic lime vinaigrette than is typically the case. Only the seafood combo ($8), a jumble of shrimp and calamari in a lively amber sauce, with green beans and zigzaggy tabs of carrot thrown in for color, was reasonable enough in size to finish without being incapacitated for the rest of the afternoon.
Bodhi, as a culinary experience, isn't the match of a place like Dragonfly, which lifts Vietnamese cooking to a sublime level without doing violence to its basic character. But even the grandest restaurant is never entirely about food; a meal in a restaurant is a holistic interval whose meaning and value turn not merely on what is eaten but on whom it's eaten with and in what setting. In this enveloping sense, Bodhi is unlike any other place I can think of on Valencia Street's ever-longer restaurant row; it's the sort of place you go to when you want to keep talking to whomever you're with long after the last platter has been cleared and the conversation has turned to the subject of art, abstract art, perhaps, pros and cons cons first, please! *
Mon.Thurs., 11 a.m.10 p.m.; Fri.Sat., 11 a.m.11:30 p.m.; Sun., noon10 p.m.
211 Valencia, SF
Beer and wine
Pleasant noise level
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