A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, international Chinese restaurant chain ~HAKKASAN~ is coming to San Francisco. Actually, they’re already here—they officially opened Monday December 3rd. The group, which originated in London, has locations in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Mumbai, among other global cities. Locally, they brought on Richard Toshio Miyashiro (of Kitchen Door, Jardinière, Twenty-Five Lusk, and Public House) to run West Coast operations. Like other chains from elsewhere opening outposts here that feature a cuisine that’s already familiar to locals, Hakkasan has been careful to emphasize their commitment to respecting the Bay Area’s regional traditions. Much of the management and staff has been brought on locally, and they’ve worked hard to demonstrate their understanding of, and adaption to, San Francisco food culture.
The kitchen is helmed by chef Ho Chee Boon, who started at the Hakkasan London location and was on board when that spot earned its first Michelin star. For the San Francisco location, he’s developed a few special dishes just for us on the contemporary Cantonese menu, including tea-smoked beef short ribs and braised pork belly in vinegar sauce. There will be more focus on seasonal ingredients here, though some of the “classic Hakkasan dishes” will be available year-round, regardless of the season.
The location, on the second floor of the One Kearny building downtown, is rather sexy (and spendy: just look at what $7 million can do). The second floor position, often a challenge for restaurants, actually serves to make the space feel more exclusive. It’s at a crowded intersection (Market, Geary, and Kearny, oh my), and the egress above the chaos feels vaguely voyeuristic and very glamorous. You are greeted at street level by a host and blue-lit counter, then whisked upstairs by elevator. The space was designed by Gilles & Boissier using a similar formula as other Hakkasan locations, but this one adapts to the space’s almost flatiron shape with a V-shaped bar that seats 25 in the center of the restaurant. The bar, like the host stand, is lit with blue. On one side is the main dining room, which seats 65, and on the other is the Ling Ling Lounge, which seats 50. Both sides of the restaurant are graced with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, which have been covered in surprisingly delicate cut wood panels that keep the space darkly glam without sacrificing natural light or the view.
The bar is front and center here, unlike other Hakkasan locations, in a nod to San Francisco’s, ahem, healthy and thriving cocktail culture (yes, we like our drinks). The wine and sake lists were curated by the in-house team of Roberto Loppi and Gian Carlo D’Urso to pair with the food. You can take a look at the cocktail list here, and plot which sip you’ll need to keep you going the next time you’re downtown shopping.
Take a look at the full menu here. There are a variety of dim sum options, from prawn and chive dumplings to scallop shumai. The Hakkasan classic crispy duck salad features duck with pomegranate, pine nuts, and crispy shallots. The main courses include stir-fried monkfish in a spicy black bean sauce, which is creatively served in a squid-ink noodle basket, a lobster in a sweet and spicy sauce with cashews, and a killer pork belly braised in aged vinegar, served with steamed buns and plenty of scallions. Go ahead and make yourself a little pork bun sandwich, you won’t regret it—and sop up the sauce. There are desserts, too, which aren’t really intended to be Chinese, but rather to complement the food. There are macarons, coconut pudding, and a peanut butter and jelly cake. After such a richly flavored meal, though, the exotic fruit platter might be just about enough.
Hakkasan is open everyday for dinner from 5:30pm-11pm, and lunch Mon-Fri from 11:30am-2:30pm. Brunch is Sat-Sun 11am-3pm.
The main dining area. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.