Hakkasan, M.Y. China Make Weak Splashes in San Francisco

Two upscale Chinese restaurants opened recently in San Francisco, and Chowhounds have the early word on both.

With outposts from Dubai to London (and a Michelin star at its New York location), Hakkasan expanded its Cantonese cuisine empire with a slickly designed space on Kearny Street. Local hound amydeastbay files an early report that strongly favors the cocktails but isn't overly keen on the rest of the menu. The most successful dishes: chicken fried rice with salted fish (recommended by a server), and a "PB&J" dessert with peanut butter mousse and a halved banana. The other dishes ranged from "Huh?" to "No, thanks." Many lacked flavor, and some seemed to miss essential components, like a sweet-and-sour pork with pomegranate seeds served without a single seed.

As for M.Y. China, the long-awaited restaurant from Martin Yan, soupçon was in with the first report. Having undoubtedly read news of the focus on hand-pulled noodles and the hiring of a "world-champion noodle puller" chef, soupçon ordered beef hand-pulled noodle soup (pictured), a good benchmark. The verdict: a fairly conventional dish with rich, meaty broth; a generous portion of rib-eye; and noodles that started out nicely chewy but ended up a bit soft. At $14, probably too pricey for a solid if unspectacular bowl of soup.

But thumbs-up on the wild boar juicy dumplings (yep, XLB or xiao long bao soup dumplings). They arrived in a steamer basket already nestled inside individual soup spoons, and while soupçon wished for black Zhenjiang vinegar instead of the Cantonese red vinegar supplied, the flavor was a winner.

Hakkasan San Francisco [Financial District]
1 Kearny Street, San Francisco
415-829-8148

M.Y. China [Union Square]
Westfield Centre Mall, 845 Market Street, San Francisco
415-580-3001

Photo of M.Y. China's beef hand-pulled noodle soup by soupçon