I have a confession to make.
I love Chinese food, but I am prejudiced against Chinese fusion or any type of glorified Chinese. To me, that’s just packaging. Once you strip off the bells and whistles, there is little substance remaining. So when I came across this restaurant on Eater’s list of the Hottest Restaurants in San Francisco, I quickly disregarded it.
The day came when I missed the reservation deadline for a Michelin-starred restaurant, and I wasn’t going to brave the rush hour traffic to some other part of town, I decided to give this place a try.
I didn’t expect much. But it turned out to be one of the most SATISFYING meal I’ve had in San Francisco.
The restaurant is tucked away in a small alley in Chinatown. Dinner is offered banquet style with the option of 4 course or 6 course to choose from.
For appetizer, I picked Devil’s Gulch Pig Head
Served prosciutto style with black vinegar, haricot vert, sunflower seed and one-half almost translucent amber colored tea egg. All these under a thin amaranth cracker. It is beautiful and flavorful, the perfect combination to start a meal.
Next – Salt & Pepper Softshell Crab
The crab is fresh, well-seasoned and not too greasy as is usually the case with deep fried food.
Then the Squid & Pork Wontons arrived
The dumpling wrapper is made of – you guessed it- squid ink. The sauce contains a good amount of black vinegar, it is heavenly. I literally wiped the plate clean.
Next came the Roasted Quail
This reminds me of a traditional Dim Sum dish. At first I was concerned that the jujube and muscat grapes might make it a little too sweet for my taste. But it was the perfect balance. The traditional me would prefer a tad more flavor on the quail meat inside, and maybe several pieces of dried shrimp?
For dessert I ordered the Black Sesame Cake
The sesame cake’s grainy texture and nutty flavor paired superbly with the smooth and aromatic rosebud mousse. This came with no surprise as its creator Melissa Chou, is one of the top pastry chefs in San Francisco.
I got to chat with chef Brandon Jew after dinner. Le chef brought up the fact that recent industry trend has been focusing on texture rather than substance. And Mister Jiu’s is his answer to that. Well, good job chef. Mission accomplished!
So next time you are in the San Francisco Chinatown area, and want to try something different than traditional dim sum or spicy Szechuanese, go to this place. $48 for an inventive 4 course meal is a steal in San Francisco. And with a bar menu that features Happiness, Luck and Longevity, why not?