World-renowned, Michelin-starred Hakkasan—with locations in London, the Middle East, India, and New York (and opening soon in Las Vegas and Los Angeles)— quietly debuted in San Francisco on December 3. Located at One Kearny, the restaurant elevator takes guests up to the second floor where they enter a stunning yet tranquil space with floor-to-ceiling city views of bustling Market, Kearny, and Geary Streets. The build-out is rumored to have cost more than $7 million and was designed by Gilles & Boissier, adhering to the similar style of other Hakkasan locations. Think modern Chinese ethnic with old-school Chinoiserie decadence (if you can!). The V-shaped, 25-seat bar is lit in a dramatic blue with dining rooms flanking either side. The giant windows are covered with beautifully cut wood panels that add a touch of elegance and exclusivity.
Hakkasan strives to respect the culture and traditions of each of its locations, and San Francisco is no exception. Much of the management and staff have been locally chosen and several dishes have been created exclusively for us. Richard Toshio Miyashiro (Kitchen Door, Jardinière, Twenty-Five Lusk, Public House) heads up West Coast operations. Manning the kitchen is chef Ho Chee Boon (Hakkasan London) who has crafted a menu showcasing modern Cantonese cuisine. Hakkasan takes its wine and cocktail program very seriously, too. Roberto Loppi (Hakkasan London, Mumbai) is the U.S.A. wine director and is based here. He has curated a list of wines designed to pair with all of the restaurant’s unique dishes. Most notable is the custom blend of roussanne and chardonnay that he co-created in partnership with Qupé winery. It’s wonderful, and it is exclusive to Hakkasan SF.
The presentation of chef Boon’s dishes—like the restaurant’s interior—is clean and very sophisticated. Classics include the whole roasted silver cod (Champagne and Chinese honey sauce) and the stir-fried black pepper beef with merlot sauce. A distinctive favorite, however, has to be the Pipa duck. Square pieces of braised leg meat are presented with the crackling skin on top, with a simple sauce and pickled ginger. Open daily for dinner, from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; lunch Monday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
ANZU RESTAURANT AND BAR
The historic Hotel Nikko (222 Mason Street) celebrated its 25-year anniversary recently with a gala party and media reception. Both the rooms and restaurant have undergone renovations. Anzu has always been a dining destination for business travelers—particularly for those from Japan—with a highly coveted and very small sushi bar. The restaurant’s interior has been redesigned by Angle Dunkelberger (Sunrise Homes) and features a bold palette of citrine, black, and white, highlighted with silver and lavender tones, backlit and undulating water features, and geometrically inspired furnishings in luxury fabrics. Reiko Muranaga (a San Francisco artist) has created a colorful series of watercolor paintings to punctuate the vibrant space. The dining room can accommodate up to 135 guests in high style.
Executive chef Philippe Striffeler (a Swiss-born chef who has worked all over Europe and Japan under the tutelage of Norbert Ziojen, Roger Vergé, and Jean Troisgros) has headed the kitchen for more than 15 years. The sushi is pristine, and you cannot go wrong with any of the selections. For something different and festive, start off with the Rock (thinly sliced Wagyu beef, which you cook tableside on a sizzling 500 degree Japanese river stone). Chef Striffeler sourced the rocks from Japan and other countries to find the exact shape and size required for presentation and cooking. When it’s on the menu, do not miss the miso-marinated cod in a smoked dashi broth over forbidden black rice. This dish is striking in its presentation and delivers those umami flavors inherent to great Japanese cooking. Open for dinner Monday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Breakfast daily from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Celebrity television chef and noted cookbook author Martin Yan has opened his first San Francisco restaurant on the fourth floor of the Westfield San Francisco Centre under the mall’s famous dome. The restaurant offers a variety of dim sum and traditional Chinese dishes with a focus on noodles. Guests can watch executive chef Tony Wu and his staff dramatically hand-pull giant balls of dough into thousands of strands within minutes, making for quite the spectacle while dining. The kitchen is completely open and invites diners to watch all of the wok action. Soon the California Culinary Academy will conduct dim sum- and noodle-making classes on the premises. The restaurant features 181 seats and a cast iron Chinese bell weighing nearly 2,000 pounds. Open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
James Stolich’s CookWithJames.com provides regional Italian and Spanish dishes for all occasions. He has been featured in UrbanDaddy.com, AgencySpy.com, and Jenn Garbee’s intriguing book, Secret Suppers, about rogue chefs and their little known culinary lives.