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A peek at The Window

The Window could not have opened at a better time. Now that the new economy is biting down on our wallets and jobs are more prized than plentiful in wake of "the burst of the bubble," cheap, good food is a prized commodity in any neighborhood. Any locale that can throw in good service as well is a gem. A small restaurant serving a menu of flavors from all over Asia at rock-bottom prices is nothing new, so why is the Window doing so well? Set in the heart of the burgeoning north-of-16th- Street section of Valencia Street, The Window is a comfortable neighborhood restaurant serving Asian cuisine with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.

The atmosphere is unlike any restaurant that sells $4.95 lunch specials; it's pristine and it's decorations opt for something other than Tsingtao beer posters. Upon entering, customers are greeted by a grinning gold Buddha surrounded by Jurassic-sized foliage. Simple yet modern lighting gives the restaurant its necessary hip-quotient, and the deep blue walls adorned with colorful patterned art lend the Window a minimal, yet effective, ambiance. The crowd is as mixed as San Francisco itself, businessmen mingle with bikers, yuppies dine near hippies, and the trendy rub elbows with the nerdy.

The Window serves food that looks great on a plate, not in tiny take-away boxes. The flavors of several Asian countries are represented on the menu (Kung Pao Shrimp, Teriyaki Chicken, Vegetable Curry), giving the Window a diverse range of dishes. The appetizers are the most creative of all. They include Green Onion Pancakes with a coconut curry sauce, several versions of dumplings and spring rolls, and Beef and Enoki Mushroom rolls, tender beef rolled around thin Japanese mushrooms in a sweet Teriyaki sauce. Main courses are fairly typical of your local Chinese eatery, without the MSG and half the oil. The portions are plentiful, and each dish is loaded with a substantial supporting cast of various vegetables. Vegetarians unfortunately have a limited selection to choose from since most dishes contain seafood, beef, or chicken. Booze is noticeably missing from the menu, which is surprising given its Mission launch-pad location.

The Window scores major points with its lunch menu. Though the lunch special prices are reminiscent of your local rat-infested "Hunan Garden" or "Chinese Dynasty", the taste was far from the slop normally dished out into styrofoam take-away containers. Before we even ordered, we were pleasantly treated to a cup of Hot and Sour soup full of tofu, mushrooms, and carrots. Rice also comes with each lunch special, and the food is prepared and served quickly, for those on lunch-break or in a hurry.

The Window won't "wow" anyone, nor will it impress a first date, but the combination of good food, friendly service, and incredibly affordable prices assures this Window to stay open for a long time.

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