[San Francisco, Financial District] Hakkasan


#1

My first time at Hakkasan, lunch or dinner. Since I parked two blocks from Hakkasan on the day of the New Year Parade, I figure I might as well give their dim sum a spin finally.

Long story short, most I have spent on dim sum in the Bay Area. The dim sum were all executed ok. Given the prices, most of them lacked that sparkle to set them apart from other high end dim sum places in the Bay Area, and they didn’t reach the lofty heights of top dim sums. The extra price probably pays for the scene-y decorations and the rent on Market Street.

First batches of 5 dishes, all arriving at the same time:

Scallop shumai- Its not bad. The roe on top was tastier than the scallop. So the scallop was not very additive to the ordinary shumai. As we found out throughout the meal, steamed dim was the kitchen’s weak link.


Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves- pretty good. Measured use of soy sauce in the filling.

XO scallop puff- Great. Cut up scallops with a little XO sauce taste makes for a tasty dish. Recommended.


Pumpkin puff- Not a fan. Taste mostly of fried dough/ grease.


Bamboo dumpling- Unmemorable. Bland and didn’t taste of much of anything.


Second batches of 3 dishes:

Daikon puff- Unmemorable. Also bland and didn’t taste of much of anything. Should have gotten a second serving of the XO scallop puff.


Prawn dumpling. The sauce was not my thing but the fried dumpling itself was fine with nice shrimp filling. Looked more dramatic than it tasted.


Prawn chive dumpling. Unmemorable.


Sauces. The one on the right with dried little shrimp was better. That said, why not just give me XO sauce?

Overall, an okay dim sum meal setting price aside. But somewhat average dim sum meal for what we ordered relatively to the price. Not strictly Cantonese dim sums on the menu for those who are looking for the classics.

I brought up that the first 5 dishes all arrived at the same time, because I believe they were going for the Western style of bringing every dish to the table at the same time, versus the typical Cantonese dim sum way of bringing dishes as they are ready. The problem was, our steamed dishes in the first batch probably had been sitting at the pass longer than necessary, and the temperature was lower than preferred by the time it got to us. Coordinating the cooking time 5 dim sum dishes is very difficult, in my opinion. The steamed dishes in the second batches of 3 dishes came hotter, likely because coordinating 3 dishes was easier.

Menu. Sorry, blurry picture.


Fancy, but poorly designed table with legs that got in the way. Come on, Hakkasan…



#2

My favorite things there are the desserts, like the chocolate filled tang yuan in a sweet soup with finger lime.

Chris Ying had amusing commentary on their decor in his article on haute Chinese cuisine in the Bay Area


#3

Huh, interesting article. I recall this one from 99 percent invisible:

about how SF’s Chinatown gradually got rebuilt with certain stereotypes that are now in mind that is greatly different than actual cities in China. I wonder if that thought process kinda causes a divide in how we perceive Chinese restaurants.


#4

LOL. ‘The sleek darkness of the space always gives me the impression that the restaurant is trying to have sex with me.’ In SF’s case, I didn’t feel its so dark, but definitely darker than the usual brightly lit Cantonese banquet hall places. The restaurant felt like though that its designed as a soft introduction to Cantonese-Chinese food for a crowd who typically spends their money in sleek looking restaurants but not necessarily overly familiar with such food. (I haven’t been, but I guess you may be able to make a similar argument about Eight Tables.) Our servers are definitely trained to handle diners who are used to showing up at e.g. One Market, versus Koi Palace. None of our servers are the usual curt/ efficient Cantonese types. Nothing wrong with that, just different.

I’d be curious to know how their food at dinner is.