Sylantro Vietnamese Cuisine: A new gem in San Leandro – Restaurant Review

December 2010
I went back to Sylantro a couple of weeks ago with a bunch of people and had a great lunch. Everyone loved the squid appetizer (didn’t try it, I’m not a squid person). I had their combo grilled meats plate (can’t remember how they called it), and all the meats were delicious. Wonderfully marinated, well cooked and juicy. It’s highly recommended. I don’t remember what other people had, but they were all very pleased as well.

August 2010 review
If you read my musings (and why would you?), you have heard me complain at the dismal restaurant choices in San Leandro. Yeah, it’s pretty bad – so much so that tonight, when Mike and I found ourselves unexpectedly sans kids, we could not think of any place in San Leandro where we actually wanted to go to dinner.
Fortunately, our friend and future San Leandro mayor Stephen Cassidy stopped over for a short visit, and suggested that we head to Sylantro, a Vietnamese restaurant in Washington Manor. He’d been there a few times and had always had a good experience. We’re always for something new, so we gave it a try. And we’re so glad we did – Sylantro is definitely a great addition to our culinary “scene”.
Sylantro is relatively new, it’s only been open for about 6 months, but the family that runs it has been in the restaurant scene for over twenty years. They previously owned a restaurant in Oakland – but decided that they preferred the small town atmosphere that San Leandro has to offer. Indeed, it’s that small town feeling which keeps us here as well 🙂
Sylantro’s menu is both familiar and innovative – though it’s more in the style of the new Vietnamese bistros (like Le Soleil and Vo’s in San Leandro than the more traditional Vietnamese restaurants like Le Cheval in Oakland. They have pho, of course, as well as a variety of other dishes – 123 in all, including appetizer and lunch items, but excluding sides and desserts. They serve pho, of course ($7-8). Dishes are reasonably priced, averaging about $10, and portions are generous. We split an appetizer and each had a main dish, and had leftovers to take home! The dishes are also beautifully arranged and presented – though such presentation is out of place in a restaurant that insists on having a large flat-screen TV turned on to music videos in its dining room (mercifully, the “music” wasn’t very loud). Fortunately, we were seated by the window, away from the TV and other diners. I’d insist in sitting there on future visits 🙂 Also fortunately, the food and the service more than made up for the tackiness of the TV-centric surroundings.
Mike and I split the Crispy Imperial Eggrolls appetizer ($6). These wonderful rolls were filled with chicken and crab and had perfectly cooked crispy shells. They were substantial and not as fibrous as other eggrolls I’ve had. They were served with the ubiquitous nuoc cham dipping sauce, and came with cucumber slices, mint and lettuce. I’d definitely order them again. As our entrees, Mike and I shared the deep fried snapper ($11) and the beef with 3 kinds of mushrooms ($9). We liked both.
The fried snapper was perfectly cooked, with a thin breading. By itself it needed more seasoning, but it was served with a beautiful “fiery sauce”. This sauce was tangy and intense, and delicious in itself – but way too overwhelming for the subtle flavor of the fish. Fortunately, the fish was wonderful with the nuoc cham, and that’s how we ate it.
I was very happy with the beef with mushrooms. The sauce reminded me of a thinner and subtler hoisin sauce – it was dark and very well balanced, with sweet undertones. It went great both with the beef and the mushrooms (of which the buttons were my favorite), and specially with the thick-grained brown rice that Mike ordered with dinner. I’m not a huge brown rice fan, but the soft nuttiness of the rice really played well with the sweetness of the sauce. This is a dish I’d order again.
We didn’t have dessert – nothing sounded that appealing, and with our 3 sodas dinner came to about $35 after tax but before tip. Not bad given the quality of the food.
Service was exceptional. Our waitress (the daughter of the owners) was friendly, attentive and eager to answer all of our questions.
In all, it was an excellent dinner and I’m eager to go back.
Sylantro Vietnamese Cuisine
967 Manor Blvd.
San Leandro, CA
M-Su 9 AM – 9 PM
San Leandro Restaurant Reviews
egg rolls
sylantro fish
sylantro beef

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