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The Ghetto Food Critics: Betelnut Review

By Eric Jordan, Photos by Mathew Santos

Jul 15, 2007 - 7:37 PM

Szechuan Green Beans, $8.75

Sizzling Iron Plate Rib-Eye Steak, Spring Onions with Roasted Garlic, $18.95: $11.25

Sri Lankan "Claypot" Curried Fish with Eggplant and Tomatoes, $16.50

Malaysian Curry "Laksa" with Prawns Chicken Mint and Basil, $10.25

Betelnut (2030 Union St., SF, Marina District)

"The food is good, but I'd rather take it to go…than eat it there." - Matthew
“Trendy but not in a good way.” - Iris
“Exquisite cuisine; inconsiderate service.” - Geezy

If Betelnut was an R&B song it would be sung by Ashanti. It would have a friendly presence, a catchy rhythm, melodic tone, but very little soul.

Picture this: dozens of stunning blonde women stroll by as high-energy music pulses throughout the restaurant. Everyone seems to be accompanied by a cocktail while enjoying their Pan-Asian fare, surrounded by the bold colors of Betelnut's pseudo authentic décor.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…You have now entered the MARINA! dun…dun…dun

The traditional Chinese male garments with Mandarin collars that the waiters and waitresses wear at Betelnut can set an off tone compared to other traditional Chinese restaurants in SF where the servers wear bow ties. Essentially, when it comes to ambiance, Betelnut is a little "three much."

You're not going to find great conversation here but what you will find are bold flavors and unique spices in the food served in healthy portions. If you are able to Zen-Out and take no notice of the atmosphere's overly-animated murmur, then take note of GFC's Must-Gets.


1) Szechuan Green Beans, $8.75
2) Sizzling Iron Plate Rib-Eye Steak, Spring Onions with Roasted Garlic, $18.95
3) Sri Lankan "Claypot" Curried Fish with Eggplant and Tomatoes, $16.50
4) Malaysian Curry "Laksa" with Prawns Chicken Mint and Basil, $10.25

If you don't find the food fulfilling, take it to the bar where you can choose from a wide variety of tropical cocktails. However, the Scorpion Bowl (a mixture of rums and fruit juices, $28), which serves you and four of your closest kin, will end the night perfectly.

The Breakdown:

Overall, Betelnut falls short in its attempt to recreate the pioneering culinary artistry of Asia.

Service: Ehhhhh? Fair.
Portion vs. Price: Ehhhh? Fair, but better than service.
Ambiance: Over-engaging
Food quality and taste: Striking! Better than service and ambiance.

Is Betelnut GFC ghetto certified? NO -- it's as diverse as the Marina. Expect to be treated that way.

Overall Sporks 3.47 ***` (out of five)

Visit www.betelnutrestaurant.com for more info.


The Ghetto Food Critics are a collection of young hip hop inspired food enthusiasts. Their purpose is to provide personal insight and opinion to readers on the dining experience within the Bay Area. Basically, they break down restaurants and let readers know what spots are cool or not, based on food quality, price, portion, ambiance and service. A high percentage of what they do come from outside references. Visit them at www.myspace.com/ghettofoodcritics and let them know where to go and they’ll give you the inside dish.

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