The Ferry Building Has a Quantity Problem

The problem with the Ferry Building in San Francisco is that there’s tons of competition. With so much to choose from, I get distracted by all the options, always making a mental note to try out a restaurant but never getting around to it. I’d often walked past Imperial Tea Court while visiting the building, and during my last visit, I finally dropped in with a friend for a quick bite to eat.

I’d visited Imperial Tea Court’s Berkeley outpost a couple of years ago, so I was excited to try the San Francisco location. Imperial Tea Court is a tea house first and foremost, but it also boasts a great menu if you’re hungry. Once we were seated, we ordered a pot of sencha tea. Sencha is more delicate than most green teas, and we enjoyed its grassy, fresh flavor while we perused the menu.

It was chilly outside, so we ordered a big bowl of spicy hand-pulled noodles with beef, and a side of vegetable spring rolls. The dish wasn’t quite as spicy as I’d expected, but oh man, was it delicious. The noodles had a perfect bite to them, the broth was hearty, and the beef was richly browned and fall-off-the-bone tender. The spring rolls were a delicious side: crispy on the outside, piping hot on the inside, and full of freshly julienned vegetables.

Now, a word about Imperial Tea Court’s service. Maybe they were having a bad day, or maybe they were short-staffed – I’m not sure. But from start to finish, our service was cold and curt, and we kept feeling as if our waiter was annoyed at us for, I don’t know, dining at the tea house.

I want to give Imperial Tea Court the benefit of the doubt, though, so I won’t write off the tea house based off of this one experience. Besides, those noodles are really out of this world, and I know I’ll want to go back for more.

Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for seven years.  She blogs regularly at

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