The Other Critics

Hirsch Files His First Review for the Ex, of Tu Lan; Tsai Reviews a Thai Place With a Mini Racetrack Inside

For his inaugural review as he fills the shoes of longtime critic Patty Unterman, Jesse Hirsch turns to well known Sixth Street Vietnamese place Tu Lan, which once, long ago, impressed Julia Child, and which his predecessor first reviewed in 1981, when she was still a critic for the Chronicle. Hirsch shows a good sense of humor about the place, which has never gotten any less divey even as the neighborhood tries (slowly) to improve itself. “On one visit, I was unsettled by the prolonged stares of a laughing, gently rocking man,” he writes. “Turns out he works there.” He’s a fan, just like Julia and Patty and everyone on Yelp is, of the super-deep-fried Imperial Rolls, and says the shaking beef and curried fried rice are pretty good too. Not everything’s perfect, the service is kind of a charming joke, and he still ends up concluding, “The place is weird, outrageous, and you’re privy to some of the City’s best people-watching.” Also: The wine is super cheap. [Examiner]

Meanwhile, filling Hirsch’s shoes at the East Bay Express, Luke Tsai files a review of a bizarre Thai restaurant in Alameda called Homeroom Racing Café. It’s actually a hobby shop and Thai restaurant combined, sort of, with a back room devoted to a miniature Grand Prix racetrack for electric race cars, so yeah, weird! He likes the simplest stuff on the country-style Thai menu, including their tom yum noodle soup and spicy wings, but he’s also charmed by the very un-burger-like “Thai-style burger,” which he says is “loaded with chopped-up ‘stuff’: green beans, basil, chili peppers” and is “the kind of ‘burger’ I could imagine getting off the grill at some Thai-American family’s backyard barbecue.” Sounds kind of good. [EBX]

Hirsch Files His First Review for the Ex, of Tu Lan; Tsai Reviews a