We had the good fortune to be the first two customers at eightables, an exclusive, high-end, aritsan Chinese restaurant within the China Live complex on Broadway in Chinatown. The whole project is an ambitious one by the one and only George Chen, a fixture in the San Francisco restaurant scene. (We met him, both at Beetlenut and his Shanghai steakhouse, Roosevelt.) Anthony Kim, our SF Giants season ticket seat mate, is the Sommelier at eightables and was talking about his new experience during a Giants game and invited Dave and me to the ‘soft opening’ at eightables. Soft openings are supposed to be the time where friends and family get to kick the tires and provide constructive feedback in a smaller than usual environment.
Let me be the first food writer to tell you that eightables will soon become THE best Chinese restaurant in the United States – it’s just a matter of time. The soft opening was superb. The cost was super expensive, but the ingredients used, the marvelous food, the amazing and attentive service, the fabulous wine pairings from all over the world, the thoughtful and subdued environment – all the way to the waitstaff uniforms, made our entire experience beyond extraordinary.
First of all, the staff at eightables doesn’t give you a menu. Rather, the first dish of nine subtle, small, beautiful small Chinese bowls delivered a sampling of nine inclusive ingredients to be used throughout the remaining dishes, totaling ten. Tony did a fabulous job pairing a lovely Cuvée Angeline Champagne that met the challenge of each and every small offering.
The Four Seas Dumpling, the picture featured at the tope, looked like 4 small pasta tubes, but it was more like an origami folded into 4 ‘containers’. This is where you know you’re in the eightables zone, as there was Golden Osetra and Kaluga caviar. All of the ingredients of a traditional caviar serving along with beautiful Santa Barbara sea urchin and an heirloom tomato salad. A lovely Palomino Fino (unfortified) was a nice, mild addition. George Chen and his eightables kitchen spare no expense procuring the best ingredients as you will see as you read on.
And then, Dave’s favorite, Barbecue ‘Shao Kao’. On the left was a pork belly sushi with a the fried skin on top, then a few figs with a return of golden caviar, then world famous Iberico ham roasted in the Chinese way, next a stack of checkboard melon with a few more fish eggs, and then the piece de resistance – a Chinese deep fried wonton with Beijing duck skin and again more Kaluga caviar. Anthony Kim, our friend, has an amazing imagination – Lambrusco was served with this, a perfect addition to barbecue (Lambrusco on ice – Lambrusco so nice for those of you old enough…)
Gulf Prawn Consomme came next. It looked like a lovely lilly pond with a prawn ball and Nasturtium. Tony chose a beautiful Santa Maria Neilson Chardonnay that I will surely hunt down. Tony’s wine pairings were spot and and extremely creative.
Black Cod wrapped in Banana Leaf brought back Hawaiian Lau Lau days. Tony’s creativity shined again, bringing another champagne pairing, even this far into the meal.
Another example of sourcing high end ingredients is the Burgundy Truffles used in the eightables Velvet Chicken, and plenty of them. A 2010 Henry Fessy Beaujolais accompanied it, normally a wine you see at first production dropping down over England’s finest clubs. This one was aged nicely and tasted different than the Nouveau Beaujolais most of us have experienced.
Red Braised Pork, fortunately a small dish, was offered up with a fabulous 2011 Peter Michael Bourdeaux blend. This is another keeper.
Foie Gras Potsticker was the next delicious offering, again fortunately not too large in order to get through the rest of the offerings. One of my favorites, Lustau Oloroso sherry accompanied it. (I wrote a great article on sherry should you choose to five in here.)
And on to dessert. You can see a little more blur in the pictures after such an amazing meal and pairings. Word to the wise – TAKE A CAB!!
The Chrysanthemum Granita was very refreshing, served with yogurt and preserved plum. A rare Charleston Sercial Madeira from Portugal brought another level of richness.
And finally, the Chinese Sea Grass, with passion fruit and mesquite bubbles, a tasty, controversial mix of flavors and textures.
There is a gift at the end. It includes the complete menu, but I would truly be a spoiler if I told you how thoughtful and amazing their gift is.
I’ve been to a lot of expensive restaurants and have always hesitated to go back in fear that the food couldn’t possibly be as good. The price at eightables is high, but the quality of the ingredients and the unique blends of food and wines make eightables a place that I will continue to go to. Service is spot on with all of the staff pitching in to insure proper delivery. Anthony Kim AND George Chen stopped by the table regularly and have many colorful comments to add to the splendor of an incredible meal. I don’t know that I could give a higher recommendation than eightables. I’m still dreaming.