For a last-minute Chinese New Year dinner, I met up with my parents here at China Live. When it opened in 2017, this place was compared to Eataly in its concept. China Live occupies multiple floors in this building featuring a retail shop, restaurant, separate bar, and fine dining concept (Eight Tables). For this dinner, we sat in the ground floor restaurant.
Hakkasan began in London in 2001 and expanded rapidly worldwide in the 2010s, but has contracted in recent years. Only two US locations remain (Las Vegas and Miami), with recent openings concentrated on the Middle East and Turkey. Hakkasan’s Mayfair location is one of two locations to currently hold a Michelin star (they’re both in London), and this was our choice to be the first meal on a recent European trip.
Empress By Boon was one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in San Francisco this year. Delayed by the pandemic, it finally opened in June and has been busy ever since. The restaurant occupies the top floor of the original Empress of China, which opened in the 1960s and was home to generations of special occasions and banquets for the Chinese American community until its closure in 2014.
Ho Chee Boon is the chef of this restaurant, best known for being the former executive chef of the worldwide chain of Hakkasan restaurants.
Mott 32, a Chinese concept based in Hong Kong, opened at the Palazzo in 2019. There are a handful of locations across the world serving a refined take on the cuisine. Its most famous dish is probably its Peking duck – aged 48 hours and smoked in apple wood, but there are a number of other signature items like its char siu, a lobster mapo tofu, and a triple-cooked wagyu short rib.
Hakkasan San Francisco opened at the end of 2012, but I didn’t have a chance to visit until this most recent SF trip. I’ve dined at Hakkasan’s Las Vegas and now-closed Beverly Hills locations a couple of times and have enjoyed my prior meals. I was interested to see how the SF location’s upscale Chinese food would compare.
Our party of four ordered a handful of prior favorite dishes, along with a few new ones.
Lung King Heen is a three Michelin starred restaurant in Hong Kong. It was the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded that distinction in 2009 and is still one of the most notable Cantonese fine dining establishments in the city. I’ve been here once for dim sum and had a good meal; this would be my first dinner visit.
While a tasting menu is available, we opted for a la carte focusing mostly on items noted as a ‘chef’s recommendation’ on the menu.
Yan Toh Heen is a two Michelin star restaurant inside Hong Kong’s Intercontinental Hotel. The restaurant serves upscale Chinese cuisine featuring dim sum for lunch. I’ve had two upscale dim sum lunches in Hong Kong in a prior visit (Lung King Heen and T’ang Court), but this would be my first time here. The restaurant is located on the ground level of the hotel featuring plenty of harbor views.
I’ve been to Great Eastern countless times. It’s been a staple for family gatherings on my dad’s side for decades, serving up banquet-style Chinese food. I don’t come here nearly as often since I’m no longer local, but squeezed in a meal on a recent trip.
The restaurant is best known for an impromptu takeout order by Barack Obama in 2012, which reliably brings Chinatown tourists through these doors. I’d like to think the food continues to draw locals into the restaurant too, though.