Gao Viet Kitchen
313 S San Mateo Dr
San Mateo, CA 94401
Why did we dine here? – Gao Viet Kitchen is a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown San Mateo. The same folks run several, casual Ben Tre restaurants in San Mateo and Millbrae.
(Which we like for casual fare.)
We dined here a couple years back right after it opened and didn’t find it very compelling. They have improved the menu, added items, and have garnered some Instagram press for there PhoZila $79 noodle dish.
We ate in the summer of 2021 during the pandemic, and were seated in their outdoor Parklet which has good spacing. Inside there isn’t as much spacing. Gao was so good, we have returned.
They do not take reservations, so there are a long wait here. Come earlier or during lunch.
Insider Tip – Line up early
Cuisine – Vietnamese
Location – San Mateo Downtown
Opened – 2018
Service – The service is fair, they are just too busy, so the food takes a long time to arrive. Cocktails arrive in the middle of entrée time. Pandemic excuse bad service time!
Verdict – Gao Viet Kitchen is a step up from your local Pho place and not chi-chi like Tamarine in Palo Alto. Authentic food with quality ingredients. Be prepared to wait.
Is this restaurant worth a 5 minute drive? Yes 30 minute? Yes. 1 Hour? Maybe.
Gao Viet Kitchen Signature Dishes – Giant Prawns, Phozilla, Grilled Lobster, Mr. Bahn Hoi
Gao Viet Kitchen’s Menu is pretty extensive. They outline customer favorites, so order away.
Gao Viet Kitchen Food Picks:
Grilled eggplant ($10) was extremely well done with a lot of flavor and perfect cooking. Even non-eggplant fans will rave at this. 9.5/10
Gao signature giant river prawns ($11/each, minimum two) are bathed in a savory butter garlic chili sauce along with some vermicelli noodles. Wow these are just awesome and a mask out. Nice sweet savory flavor that is soft up by the noodles. A must get. 10/10
Filet mignon Pho ($18) filet mignon noodle soup, 24 hour bone marrow beef broth, rice noodles, load of spring onion what is a good version of the classic. Strong robust broth along with tender slices of meat. We would rank this version slightly but no Cupertino’s Pho Hanoi. 8.5/10
Bun Cha ($21) has pork belly slices along with pork balls in fish sauce. Rice noodles and lettuce, mint allow you to put it all together. Another very good dish. We’d give a slight edge to Pho Hanoi’s due to better meat. 8.5/10
Vegetarian Pho ($14) is also a decent noodle soup. Tofu, mushrooms, green onions, bean sprouts and a lot more. Also not as good as Pho Hanoi, but pretty decent. 8.5/10
Vegetarian Claypot ($18) has lots of tofu along with some carmelized vegetables like eggplant, pineapple. The Pho is more interesting. 8/10
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Ben Tre martini ($12) vodka, passionfruit syrup, lime juice was just too
sweet. We haven’t had a cocktail this week ever. Had to water it down. 6/10
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