The signature red stool logo signals your arrival at Rice Paper Scissors, a Vietnamese concept from Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan that started as a San Francisco pop-up and now serves lunch inside Brick & Mortar Music Hall. The bar and live music venue features big booths, a tiled, wood-framed bar, a food ordering window in back, and colorful, signature low-slung Vietnam style stools and tables out front, along Mission Street.
Rice Paper Scissors specializes in pho, banh mi, seasonal rice bowls and some interesting non-alcoholic beverages. Yes, they’ve got Vietnamese iced coffee, fresh-cracked coconuts, house-fermented ginger beer and kombucha, and my recommendation: Suan Mei Tang ($2). The smoked plum tea, served on the rocks, has a heritage that dates back more than a millennium. The tart purple beverage takes the best attributes of the smoky purple plums, sugar, and hawthorn, a plant in the rose family that yields fruit that has heart-healing powers. To my knowledge, smoked plum tea leaves doesn’t actually contain any tea leaves, and despite the man’s appearance in my glass, doesn’t make for a good swimming pool.