According to an old job posting, Easterly (Santa Clara, Berkeley) is a chain from Zhuzhou City, Hunan province that was established in 2005. A restaurant group owns Easterly (xiaoxiang, 眷湘; also Sichuan brand Dongfeng 东风食府) and their Berkeley location has a positive report from @tm.tm. Announcements for a Cupertino and Fremont location are announced on a yelp photo.
They are not the first international Hunan chain here, and several local chains are testament to the popularity of Hunan food in the SFBA. Wonderful in Millbrae has various locations in Beijing. Local chains include former Shao Mountain, which sprouted Hunan Impression and sister restaurant Ping’s Bistro. Noodle Talk and Noodle Talk Home Cuisine are liked among us, but mixed reviews on Hungry Onion for Hunan Cuisine and sister restaurant Love My Buns, which serves both Hunan and elsewhere derived wheaten things. Sizzling Pot King, the dry pot specialist, was one of those rare (only?) Silicon Valley Chinese businesses to spread to SF (SoMa).
Do y’all think that any Hunan restaurants are at the quality level, or better than, than our best Sichuan restaurants? Clarissa Wei said in 2017/2018 that Spices Fremont bested anything in LA (a rare SFBA win for non-Cantonese!). Albany’s Wojia impressed many of us at a lunch; Soleil Ho enough to include it in the SF Chronicle’s Top 100; and Janelle Bitker when she was at the EB Express. The owner of Wojia opened a Hunan restaurant in Albany because he noted that the market was saturated with Sichuan places, and Hunan restaurants were absent, at the time, from the (upper) east bay.
Given those accolades and all the above places having enough success to open multiple locations, does any one restaurant/chef rise to the top, either in traditional Hunan dishes, more contemporary Hunan fare, or specialties (the Hunan noodle places and dry pot places)?
@tanspace, do you have any preferences?