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In a city that is well celebrated as America’s lavish “foodie” capital, and home to one of the nation’s hottest contemporary Asian food scenes, the selective posh, luxury restaurant chain Hakkasan is fast becoming San Francisco’s new exclusive dining experience for refined palates seeking out a fine dining experience in a London style supper club ambiance.
This year diners will revel in celebratory feasts throughout the world, ringing in the new year of the Monkey, during the Chinese New Year festivities mired in centuries-old traditions. The New year festivities are now celebrated across the globe, from the colorful streets of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, to the bright red lanterns of America’s largest Chinatown in San Francisco.
The Chinese wishing tree tradition has been inspired for centuries by the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees in Hong Kong. Legend has it that if someone gets a bundle of bright red paper caught in its branches, they will be granted a wish. During this auspicious time, guests will be invited to share their hopes for the coming year by writing their wishes on gold ribbons and hanging them in the restaurant. The wish collection and special menu will be available to guests from 22nd January through 22nd February.
The London inspired Hakkasan restaurant in San Francisco, and in other locations around the world will be welcoming the “Year of the Monkey” with a limited edition menu showcasing dishes that will bring luck, joy and prosperity in 2016, and will continue to honor the Chinese wishing tree tradition by inviting guests to share their hopes for the coming year.
The Chinese New Year menu showcases dishes that will bring joy, luck and prosperity in 2016. It begins with a double boiled fresh ginseng and chicken soup followed by diced Wagyu beef and pine nut golden cup and a Dim Sum platter. Main dishes include wok-fry lobster in spicy truffle sauce, Pipa duck, grilled Chilean seabass in honey and a Hericium mushroom stir-fry with lotus root, asparagus and lily bulb in black pepper and Dried scallop and crab meat fried rice.
Haskkasan San Francisco offers guests a five star perfectly plated culinary experience in the heart of the cities preeminent shopping and financial districts. Vanguard executive chef Ho Chee Boon brings his 24 years of experience at several of the world’s most renowned Asian restaurants. Chef Ho has been with the Hakkasan brand since its conception and was the chef behind the original Michelin Star-rated location in London, which opened in 2001.
The Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong trained master chef blends the freshest ingredients, sustainable, organic meats, produce and the freshest “catch of the day” fish, Organically grown produce, a culinary masterpiece of an Asian fusion experience. The menu takes a modern approach to traditional Cantonese cuisine, using the finest ingredients and expert techniques to create timeless yet innovative signature dishes. The restaurant has been thoughtfully designed by Parisian-based firm Gilles and Boissier with a variety of public and intimate spaces.
Chef Ho has thoughtfully planed out each dish on the menu. As the master chef states, “If I don’t like a dish completely, I won’t put it in our menu and have my customers eat it. I tell my employees, if you don’t enjoy what you cook, and you don’t enjoy what you’re cooking, then you won’t be able to be a good chef.”
I sit down with the personable senior sommelier from Kingston, New York, Shane McDermott, who has been pairing fine wines with Hakkasan’s eclectic menu for over three years. The gregarious wine expert says, “Our style of pairing wines here differs than other places. At most restaurants the sommelier is expected to come up with the perfect pairing for one specific dish. At Hakkasan the idea is that you are going to have several dishes in front of you at the same time, all with different flavor profiles. So, my job is to come up with a pairing that maybe won’t be a home run with every dish, but more importantly doesn’t clash with anything on the table.”
Some wines I tried that are not to be missed. The 2014 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner from Alto Adige – The Kerner grape is very underappreciated, and this is one of McDermott’s favorite wines to pair with the Hakkasan menu. Think of it like a dry Riesling with more body. Another favorite is the 2009 Qupe Roussanne Bien Nacido Estate from Santa Maria Valley. McDermott points out, “White Rhone varietals work so well with our food, especially with our entrees that have richer sauces. Qupe is one of the best producers at achieving a Rhone style white with still allowing the wine to show the California terroir.”
The wine selection is nothing short of brilliant. As the cutting edge sommelier Mcdermoot reminds me, “If you haven’t had grapes like Marsanne and Roussane and you are a Chardonny drinker, it is a perfect bridge to get you out of your comfort zone and try something new.”
To complete the six course New Year’s celebration feast guests will enjoy Chef Ho’s – Golden Halo desert showcasing the color gold, a symbol of good luck, money and prosperity in the coming year and the perfect culmination to the delectable tasting menu. Made with soy caramel, banana delice, chocolate, peanuts and sprinkled with gold leaf.
Accompanying the Golden Halo is the 9 Hou cocktail, symbolizing the monkey’s ninth position on the zodiac calendar. The delicious elixir is a concoction that includes Bacardi Maestro de Ron, Giffard banana du Bresil, guava, lime and peach bitters, and is decorated with a golden monkey cocktail stirrer.
It is customary for friends and family to gift red envelopes containing money during this festive time symbolizing good luck and wealth. Hakkasan is giving all guests who dine from the Chinese New Year menu a specially designed Year of the Monkey coin as a gift of good fortune.
Hakkasan’s Chinese New Year celebration menu runs until 22nd February. Hakkasan San Francisco is open for lunch Monday to Friday from 11.30am through 2.30pm, Saturday 11.30am through 3.00pm and for dinner Monday from 530pm through 10.00pm and Tuesday to Saturday from 5.30pm through 11pm.
For more information on Chinese New Year at Hakkasan, visit http://hakkasan.com/chinese-new-year/