Peking duck with kumquat glaze in sesame pockets. All photos: © tablehopper.com.
Sichuan “working hands” boiled wontons.
Three-treasure bao zai fan claypot rice.
Mega project ~CHINA LIVE~ is shifting into higher gear, and it looks like they are going to be starting Market Restaurant and Bar Central’s lunch service on Tuesday March 14th at 11am, which means they will then have continuous hours every day until closing. For this week, Market Restaurant and Bar Central are open Sun-Wed 5pm-10pm and Thu-Sat 5pm-11pm. (Remember, no reservations.)
You can look at last week’s overview of the project; I went on opening night to dine with friends, and I now have a menu to share with you. (The menu changes daily depending on what they’re finding at the market, so this is yesterday’s.) Founder George Chen’s team is led by Joey Altman, director of culinary operations, and chef de cuisine Chi-Feng Lin (previously at high-end restaurants in Taiwan), with Jonnatan Leiva and Ivan Tam.
Some highlights from our dinner: the chashu bao (baked pork buns) with their sweet crumble topping; and the lightly crisp sesame pockets for the Peking duck with kumquat glaze, which are something different than the usual pancake or steamed buns/bao presentation we usually see in SF. The sheng jian bao (pan-fried juicy dumplings) are a must, just eat them carefully. The Sichuan “working hands” boiled wontons reminded me of a Chinese version of large and loose cappelletti, such a fine wrapper (ditto the XLB).
Our table enjoyed the three-treasure bao zai fan claypot rice with lap cheong (Chinese sausage), la rou (cured pork belly), and la wei fan (cured duck), and the flavorful Taipei beef noodle soup will warm you right up. The vegetable dishes were a particular highlight, like the winter radish, the chrysanthemum salad, and pressed five-spice bean curd with celery and green peppercorn. There’s plenty of live seafood to choose from, and overall, the kitchen had a light touch.
Dessert is from pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez, who is adding some contemporary and elevated touches. Our table was particularly taken with the sesame soft serve topped with mango shaved ice. Look for some pastries and more, which will be coming from him at the Oolong Café.
Be sure to take a look at the wine list and cocktails by director of beverage Duggan McDonnell. And for those of you joining us this Saturday for the sold-out tablehopper preview event, I hope you’re coming hungry.