This week's tablehopper: 2020 vision.
M.Y. China’s off-the-menu ice cream and sugar egg puff/sugar cloud with a Rémy Martin XO Old Fashioned is how we ended the tablehopper Crab and Cognac Feast. Boom! Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy, gang! We made it. Barely. Tomorrow we begin a new decade, which feels like an extra-fresh start. I say make a resolution you want to keep, one that makes you happy. One year, my resolution was to cook for friends once a month. It was a good one—it helped me keep my apartment extra-clean and the piles of paperwork on my kitchen table to a minimum, and it was wonderful to have friends over for quality time while I got to try out new recipes. This year, I’m going to commit to a meditation practice. (Boy, do I need it. Moving at warp speed is taking its toll.) If you have any meditation favorites on InsightTimer, or anywhere else, I welcome your recommendations! Thank you.
Of course, any of you longtime tablehopper readers (love you!) know this is the time of the year when I write my annual rant—the bore—of ten things I don’t want to see in the New Year. (I almost put turmeric on the list, but as I was eating my turmeric granola a few days ago, I realized that would be hypocritical. I love turmeric everything, LOL.) I always get a kick out of hearing your own personal gripes and observations, feel free to drop me a line (unless it’s about how expensive it is to dine out—that’s just the way things are).
A few quick updates about New Year’s Day! If you’d like to leave your place and find some sustenance tomorrow, Son’s Addition will be open for brunch starting at 10:30am, serving their special caldo de crudo hangover stew (think spicy broth with chicken and achiote and vegetables, yessss) and other brunch dishes, with dinner service starting at 4pm. The Front Porch also knows a thing or two about how to fix a hangover (starting at 10am). Verjus is doing something fun: cheese fondue and movies (including The Hangover, natch), starting at 3pm. You can heal yourself with the Causwells burger (so good), plus they’re offering brunch, starting at 9am. In Cow Hollow, both Wildseed and Kaiyo will be open—check out the latter’s $28 all-inclusive brunch. And in Sausalito, Copita is doing their hangover brunch, with new breakfast tacos, plus huevos rancheros, enfrijoladas, and verde y rojo pozole! Heal thyself.
On Saturday evening, I hosted the tablehopper Crab and Cognac feast at M.Y. China, and wow, what a night! First of all, that event sold out in 70 minutes, damn. A record! Many thanks to Rémy Martin for making the event’s amazing pricing possible, and to Trent Simpson for introducing the new Tercet to our guests. Tercet and pineapple are an ideal match, so we enjoyed it with some fantastic sweet and sour pork (with lychee, also awesome). The Rémy Mule with Tercet ended up being a dynamic and refreshing pairing with all the crab, and the XO Old Fashioned at the end was pure decadence. We were also sent home with stunning Rémy Martin crystal Cognac glasses—it’s so fun to be spoiled. Merci, Rémy Martin!
We had a surprise guest host that night: the one-and-only chef Martin Yan (whose initials are the M.Y. in M.Y. China), who entertained us with a cleaver skills demo, generously gave away prizes to our guests, and personally checked in on all our tables! What a host. And the floor show didn’t stop: executive chef Tony Wu came in with a noodle dance—I’ll be posting a video on social ASAP!
The food was beyond: we started with an array of M.Y. China classics, like their Shandong beef roll, but then they dropped an off-the-menu treat on us: fried har gow! Oh man. (Our table definitely wanted that again.) I made sure we had the wild boar scissor-cut noodles, always a fave. And then it was time to get crackin’! The parade of seven kinds of crab made it hard to choose a favorite, but some top table picks were the Chili Pepper Crab, Jiangxi Spicy Crab, and Sweet Tamarind Crab. (There are no wrong answers.)
I’m telling you this because M.Y. China is offering their special seventh anniversary crab menu until mid-January, so you can go in and try them for yourself. (Check out my Stories on @tablehopper to view them all!)
It was a wonderful event to close out the year. Thank you to everyone who came, and a special thanks to the entire team at M.Y. China who made this event so special.
I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holiday season (you can witness all my holiday decadence here), and here’s to a happy and healthy 2020. Thank you for reading my column all these years (thirteen and counting!) and for all your support. Best wishes to you and yours.
We Have Already Seen These Things Aplenty, No More in 2020!
It continues to be a tough time in the restaurant industry in San Francisco, with so many sad closures. But it also means that only the strong or beloved (or well-funded) may survive. Since restaurants need diners to keep coming back, let’s review some things they can do to keep us happy to return. (Plus a little something we need to do, too.) It’s a new decade—let’s shine.
- I’m done with all the goddamn steakhouses and A5 and wagyu. There are more than enough places peddling beef, really. It’s starting to get revolting. I thought we were moving toward a more plant-based way of doing things. Nope, instead, A5 is trying to edge out omakase as the latest expression of our city’s excessive wealth, but it’s a lot less interesting. Mooooot.
- Gold leaf adorning everything fits right along with all the wagyu, the latest ingredient in our gilded age. Because the quenelle of caviar just isn’t luxurious enough on its own.
- Since I’m complaining about luxury, I’d like to call for an end to pâtes de fruit as part of the mignardises service at the end of every single tasting menu. Who actually loves those sugary, gelatinous bites? They’re almost always too sweet, with cloying fruity flavors—not exactly the way I’d like to end my meal. (Thanks for the diabetes and cavities!) Based on all the leftover squares I see on tables, I know I’m not alone in my disaffection for the mouthful of sparkly jam.
- Now let’s flip the switch and bitch about something I’m seeing in fast-casual restaurants that only adds to the bleakness of the experience: serving an entrée on a silver metal tray. You know, the rectangular metal trays with a little lip around the edge, usually with a paper liner. For a burger and fries, fine, but for everything else, there are other serving options! This doesn’t need to feel like meal time at San Quentin. Pretty soon, I’m going to start banging them on the table and yelling, “Attica! Attica!”
- I was also ready to riot when a deli in North Beach served me an Italian combo with mustard and mayo. Madonn’. Bottled Italian dressing is disgusting enough (don’t try to sneak that Hidden Valley BS on me—I always ask if they use a housemade vinaigrette) but the yellow mustard and mayo was enough to almost make me call Frankie Carbonara to pay someone a little visit, pronto. There needs to be an Italian combo inspector in the city, issuing fix-it tickets for all the atrocities committed against this classic sub. Basta, or you get some cement shoes!
- With all the ramen we’re swimming in, I can’t believe how many shops get the ajitama tamago/marinated egg wrong. So often, it comes out totally cold in the middle. Oh yeah, nothing like an ice-cold yolk in my hot bowl of ramen. Chef, I know the city won’t let you keep the egg sitting out, but there has to be a better way to warm that fucker up before plunking that ice cube into my bowl of noodles. And then there are the shops that just do a boiled egg, and it comes out with the blue ring. COME ON, kitchen basics here. Strive for eggcellence.
- We gotta talk about the sandos. The Japanese-style ones on milk bread, with a cutlet inside, or egg salad, or cream and fruit (hmmm). When they’re good, they’re so good—we’re talking housemade milk bread and a perfect katsu—but there are a bunch of mediocre ones being made (primarily for the Insta) and I’m bored. Side note: hey grammers, if it doesn’t taste good, don’t post it.
- The straw shituation. Every restaurant should have a stash of plastic straws (or even better: bamboo, or straw, or metal) for patrons with disabilities. As for these paper straws that fall apart in two minutes, a hard no. Don’t even serve them, seriously. There are other options out there, please source them. As for me, I carry my own metal straw in my purse, problem solved.
- The delivery shituation. Delivery is fraught with issues and complicated. But what shouldn’t be so complicated is what to pack everything up in. I can’t believe the excessive packaging and non-compostable plastic forks (silverware should be by request only!) and those all-in-one, plastic divider trays with the snap lids should be banished forever. Chinese food containers that still have the metal handle—why? So much waste. It’s time for a citywide delivery inspector as well.
So, yeah, that delivery shituation. I get it, it’s an amazing thing to get a pepperoni pizza from The Pizza Shop delivered to your door when you’re hungover or sick or it’s raining out or you’re home from work late (or on deadline, which is what happens to me). Less people have cars, which is a good thing. And there are now businesses designed and optimized for delivery, which I have slightly less guilt about patronizing and ordering from (and promoting), but it’s not the only kind of restaurant we should have (although it’s quickly becoming what we deserve).
Delivery should be an occasional convenience, not a way of life. Here’s one change you can make: do you want the salad or burrito or burger that’s at a place a few blocks away from you? Just go get it. It’ll save the restaurant the hefty percentage they’re paying the delivery app, and just may save the restaurant. (Green Chile Kitchen, RIP.) We’re becoming a city of shut-ins. Go see the people who make your food. (Or try making your own dinner?) Meet your neighbors. We gotta focus less on convenience, and more on long-term sustainability. Especially for the month of January—it’s never a good time for restaurants. Go visit them in person. I hope to see you there.
If you want to see my past 12 years of kvetches about truffle oil and activated charcoal and eating for the Insta, you can read past issues of the bore here.
(Matchmaker): Little Creatures Mission Bay Is Now Hiring for a Busser/Food Runner
It started with a group of mates from Australia. All hailing from the beer scene, these guys wanted to brew an awesome, hop-driven, American Pale Ale with a distinctive aroma and delicious flavor. And so it began, the birth of Little Creatures. We are looking for reliable bussers to power the success of the newest Little Creatures venue located in iconic Mission Bay.
To learn more about this opportunity, follow the link.
(Matchmaker): Palihotel San Francisco Now Hiring a Chef de Cuisine
Paligroup is currently seeking a chef de cuisine for the Palihotel San Francisco location. The chef de cuisine will be responsible for running the day-to-day operation of the kitchen, managing the brigade, and assisting the group executive chef to ensure the kitchen and kitchen costs are run to the restaurant and hotel standards.
To learn more about this opportunity, follow the link.