Hanlin Tea Room is now open. [SF Chinatown]

I went by to check out the tea noodles. I put my first impressions in my blog. The short version is that I think this will be a good place to chill out with a pot of good tea, a couple of appetizers and a laptop, but the main dishes are a little on the pricey side.

809 Kearny St., San Francisco

Very impressive!

The showstopper was the sweet cream bun 奶皇包.
It’s more delicate and delicious than Golden Gate Bakery’s egg custard tart or the custard buns at Great Eastern or City View. Does anyone else make this? The inside had a warm silky custard, and was surrounded by a sweet puffy bun. Outside that was a thin crisp shell which was sweet, piping hot, and tasted a bit like a Chinese doughnut (frying oil?). This is what you’d get if you put creme brûlée DNA in a hot lava bun. Sorry cronut, it’s checkmate.

It’s $4 for 2 buns and my friend recommended that, so it wouldn’t lose its luster, the server bring it to us only when we finished our savory items— be careful as it needs time to cool.

Anyway, we had started with the pork chop tea noodle soup. The noodles tasted heartier than plain wheat noodles, but I didn’t taste any tea or astringency. I liked the texture of the noodles— they’re more the stick to your teeth kind of noodles than stretchy kind of noodle, and I can’t recall having this style so thin before. Fried pork chop stayed crispy after a few dunks in the soup.

The pork belly was outstanding. It was easy to cut the pig chunk into two, but beyond that was best picked up by chopsticks and bitten from to appreciate the layers. The layers held together and were distinct—a well browned layer, custardy layers, and tender layers of flesh. Leathery but crunchy pieces of dried bamboo balanced out the texture of the pork.

It wasn’t too busy during lunchtime, so I agree with @Souperman’s sentiment about being able to linger. With the above, milk teas, a dessert of logan, white fungus, and goji berries, it was $29 per person and there were some leftovers.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold