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Chowdown Report: Hakka Restaurant in San Francisco

Many thanks to “asianstamp” for alerting us to the newly opened Hakka Restaurant in the far Outer Richmond. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6863...

Today nine intrepid ‘hounds made the long "Journey to the West" and were rewarded with a very good Chinese New Year lunch ordering ala carte. The short version: delicious food, well-prepared, attractively presented, authentic, vibrant flavors, bargain prices, excellent service, easy to park. The chef here is the one who put Golden Mountain in Hayward on the map a few years ago when it was a destination for Hakka cuisine.

To kick off the discussion, I’ve listed the dishes we tried below. I’ll ask my dining companions to fill in the details and tell us about their favorites, and I’ll comment later.

Seafood and soft tofu soup
Crab with salted egg yolk (2+ lbs for $23)
Home style frog legs with basil
Arrowroot bulbs with roast pig
Bamboo pith and pea shoots (vegetarian)
Salt baked chicken served with ginger-scallion sauce and pan drippings
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
Sauteed lily bulbs with tree ears (vegetarian)
Stuffed tofu in supreme broth
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
Beef short ribs with black pepper and honey sauce
Pork bacon with preserved greens
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
Dried scallops and egg white fried rice steamed in lotus leaf

With the 10% grand opening discount and a generous tip, the tab per person was only $20 each.

Fig Newton’s photo set:
WARNING, Food Porn ahead.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

Translating Chinese New Year's Menus, Part 5: Hakka Restaurant
By Jonathan Kauffman
http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010...

Chowing down with the SF Bay Area chowhounds:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668213

-----
Hakka Restaurant
4401 Cabrillo St, San Francisco, CA 94121

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  1. Melanie thank you for organizing a fun lunch! It was nice to try some of these uniquely Hakka style dishes, especially with expert commentary by Yimster. Overall I thought the food was well seasoned, balanced and clearly done with care. Let me start with the photos and I'll post specifics later.

    http://bit.ly/99mkcT

    2 Replies
    1. re: wanderlust21

      Nice shots, thank you, and you're welcome! Looks like each of us rushed to upload our pix before continuing with friday night plans. Definitely fun to have three different cameras at the table and see various dishes from more than one angle. Seeing how well the food photographed in natural daylight, I was even more glad that we scheduled this as a lunch rather than dinner. For future reference, there is a private dining room upstairs that can seat 30.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I particularly enjoyed the Home Style Frog Legs with basil. I admit, I'm not a connoisseur of dishes made with amphibians, but I thought the meat was mild and succulent with a sauce flavorful yet subtle enough that it did not overwhelm the meat.

        The other standout for me was the supreme broth that accompanied the stuffed tofu. Fig Newton suggested I try the broth on its own, and I loved the pork, tofu and vegetable flavors of the broth.

        Other dishes I'd order again were the crab with salted egg yolk, the pork belly and salt baked chicken.

    2. I found the food prepared in true Hakka style. I had a long discussion with serve who was wonderful in answer many of my many questions. This will be gem as soon it has it kitchen in full operations. Many dishes I asked about will be on the menu as soon as the kitchen as time to make them. We can list them as soon as they are ready for the public.

      But back to the food all the dishes were prepare in a true Hakka presentation.

      The Salt Baked Chicken was a salt baked chicken not a salted water poached chicken.

      The Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetable was another stand out.

      I found the food well prepared and the service to sharp and knowledgeable.

      I will let the other chime in before I add my two cents.

      Would go back again soon after the kitchen is in full operation.

      Good meeting new hounds and old hounds.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yimster

        What I like best at Hakka was that the chef was about to serve food which he framed to show the of the taste and freshest of ingredients.

        There were no misses and I would love to return and discuss with the staff ahead of time to see what would be available on the day of the visit. Someday soon.

      2. I enjoyed the crab clad in the golden armor of the salted egg yolk and especially the arrowroot bulb with roasted pork. I was pleased to see that that was one of the dishes that the restaurant staff was having for their own lunch. I may be establishing my credentials as being easy but there truly wasn't a clunker in the whole delicious lunch. Thanks again Melanie for the planning and yimster for the extra scallops in the soup.

        1. It was well worth the trip to the very outer Richmond! We had a wonderful variety of dishes that were distinguished by freshness and a light touch. There were no misses and a few dishes were extra special: The arrowroot pork was true Hakka comfort food, the rice had a nice scallop taste without being overwhelming and the lily bulbs one of my favorites (ask for it without bell peppers though!).

          Thanks to Melanie for organizing and to the other hounds that contributed much to the conversation about the food!

          -----
          Hakka Restaurant
          4401 Cabrillo St, San Francisco, CA 94121

          4 Replies
          1. re: marlon

            Special thanks to ChowFun_derek for the wonderful preprandial taste of the triangular whole grain and seeded bread from the European Market at 32nd and Clement.

            1. re: wolfe

              Your welcome...on the way home Marlon and I stopped at Cohen's for Purim baked goods, Campbells for egg custard tarts (I (big surprise!!!) I prefer Golden Gates' version. and the International/European/Russian Market on Geary (the large one..does anyone remember its' proper name? anyway THEY also had the triangle seeded whole grain bread!

              As for our wonderful banquet lunch, I really enjoyed the lightness and the freshness of the ingredients very ..."Cantonese" (Hakka) nothing was overly seasoned blocking the natural flavor of the ingredients,,,the vegetables were really great...arrowroot, bamboo pith, lily bulbs...had texture AND delicate flavor...I also loved the grainy egg yolk texture on the crab shells. The bright green ginger scallion sauce was piquant and a perfect accompaniment for the Salt baked Chicken. mmmm pork belly ..what Jewish boy wouldn't like-crave this! The soup was a delicate combo of soft tofu, pale scallops..gentle broth...perfect for a cool S.F. day near the beach. I would return tomorrow if another Chowdown was arranged..for this one I thank our Melanie...Lambert always gets the "dish", on the dishes and the chefs, and the group was a happy convivial one! A great Chowhound event!

              1. re: wolfe

                I started a new thread to post a photo and talk about the bread.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/689379

                wolfe, I hope you'll post your CNY joke you shared with us.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Due to an overwhelming # of requests, one, I will try it.
                  What do you call an obese non Jewish marine?
                  A gung ho fat goy.

            2. This is great news, thanks for the reports of everyone! The last time I had a spectacular Hakka Cantonese meal was 2005 at Golden Mountain in Hayward when they had a chef who knew what he was doing (real salt baked chicken, not saltwater steamed), but the owners and chef changed hands and nobody seems to know what happened to them.

              I'd be interested to know what dishes Yimster asked about that are to be offered in the near future. For those of you interested in Hakka Cantonese in general, check out LA CHer exilekiss's writeup of Bon Marche in SoCal's SGV.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/682331

              and watch this rare breed of a chef come up with authentic Hakka Cantonese dishes. If enough of you rally, I'm sure the chef at Hakka Restaurant will add any dishes you might like from Bon Marche to the menu or do something similar.

              Now if only this restaurant had a branch in the Peninsula....

              15 Replies
              1. re: K K

                KK,
                I believe that the chef at Hakka Restaurant is the same chef who was at Golden Mountain in Hayward. I was also at the Chowhound lunch, yesterday, and really enjoyed the meal. I particularly liked the fried rice with dried scallops and egg whites that was then steamed in a lotus leaf. It was delicate and very delicious! I also loved the crab with salted egg and the pork belly with preserved vegetables. Other dishes that I liked were the salt-baked chicken with two sauces (I preferred the green sauce,) the short ribs with a honey glaze, the arrowroot, the pan-fried tofu clay pot, and the scallop, tofu and egg white soup. The meal was really excellent!

                --NancyB

                1. re: Nancy Berry

                  The Golden Mountain chef's last name was printed in the old GM menu (forgot whether it was a Mr Lee, Mr Lau or something like that), but in addition to his bio, they also introduced four key dishes, including salt baked chicken, pan fried stuffed tofu (pork filling pressed on top of the tofu which I see got represented in a slightly different prep in the broth), basil stir fried clams, and hakka pork belly with preserved pickled veg. Are the other 2 dishes available at Hakka Restaurant?

                  Also GM's salt baked chicken only had one sauce on the side, two at HR is quite interesting. The outdated photo on y3lp.com of the GM restaurant listing of the chicken bears striking resemblance otherwise to the pic Melanie posted.

                  I do recall that GM's former owners (when GM was offering straight up Hakka Cantonese) lived in the Richmond District. Wonder if it is indeed them resurfacing or not.

                  Anyone got HR's to-go menu and can scan it, put it up?

                  1. re: K K

                    KK, when I called to make the res, I asked where the chef had worked before. The person who answered the phone said most recently at a restaurant in the Sunset and before that at a Hakka restaurant in Hayward. He said that the chef lives in the Outer Richmond very close to this new restaurant and got tired of commuting to Hayward. I asked if the place was Golden Mountain, and while he wasn't sure, he thought that might be it. Would you happen to know the Chinese name for Golden Mountain, as I don't think I heard him say gum san.

                    I was going to ask you if those presentations in the photos looked familiar to you. The dark browning on the stuffed tofu and the angularity are quite unique in my limited experience. Yimster had asked if the stuffed tofu could be served in soup, that is different from the prep on the menu, so the standard way might be as you remember.

                    Same story with the two sauces. Some people didn't like the salty pan drippings, so I asked if we could have some ginger-scallion sauce as well. What I really wanted was some of the Hakka style green chile pepper-vinegar sauce but the ginger sauce was very good and so fresh.

                    The menu has many different stir-fried basil dishes. I don't recall clams specifically but I bet it's there. We went with the frog legs.

                    The restaurant was out of to-go menus and said that more would be printed soon. My link above to the SF Weekly article shows the $168 and $198 banquet menus. I'd had an advance head's up that this article would go online some time on friday, which turned out to be just before our lunch. It was kind of cool to be able to pull it up on my phone and show our waiter. He was tickled to get press coverage so early in the game. He said he'd tell the chef to get ready with those items for the weekend.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I don't recall the exact Chinese name of GM, but it had nothing to do with Gum San, more like Wah Yu Saan Zhong (vs Hak Ka Saan Zhong for HR).

                      I do note a difference in the format of the Hakka pork belly bacon dish, in that at GM they always served it in a claypot (as seen on the old y3lp pic of the current listing), vs over lettuce and not in a claypot from your photos. But otherwise quite similar.

                      Great detective work! I think we can conclude that this indeed sounds like our guy. So happy to hear he's back...I wonder how we missed him in his previous Sunset venture...but perhaps he wasn't dishing out the good stuff.

                      How are the prices? Hayward GM in its day was also very appealing for unbeatable value.

                      What I missed dearly about Hayward GM was also their ability to pick the freshest and fattest clams (coupled with excellent stir fry skills). The basil stir fry clams were insanely addictive. Hope that is the case at HR.

                      Finally... SF gets back a proper Hakka Cantonese restaurant.....no longer need to tell folks to settle for Ton Kiang!

                      1. re: K K

                        Close, the Chinese name for Golden mountain in Hayward (according to Sina.com) is 華苑山莊, or hua yuan shan zhuang

                        1. re: Xiao Yang

                          Thanks, XY, happy new year! Can't be entirely sure, but that sounds similar to what the waiter said when Yimster asked the name of the Hayward restaurant.

                    2. re: K K

                      I have scanned Hakka Restaurant's take-out menu. 6 pages total. I have not scanned their dine-in menu with specials and prix fixe deals, one being a $19.99 3-item (from a list of 20+ dishes). Here are the scans (1 to 4) of 6 total:

                       
                       
                       
                       
                      1. re: wahdoy

                        Here are Hakka Restaurant's take-out menu's last pages, 5 to 6 (6 pages total).

                         
                         
                        1. re: wahdoy

                          Thanks so much for sharing those with us! And I'm happy to hear about the 3-for option.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Hi Melanie.

                            I just scanned the aforemention Specials from Hakka Restaurant. Side 1 features the $19.95 3-item deal (Economy Family Dinner), while Side B features Rice Plates (11a.m. to 3 p.m. $4.95 each) and Congee.

                             
                             
                            1. re: wahdoy

                              Hakka Restaurant's Dinner Menu - pages 1 & 2 of 4.

                               
                               
                               
                              1. re: wahdoy

                                Hakka Restaurant's Dinner Menu - pages 3 & 4 of 4.

                                 
                                 
                                1. re: wahdoy

                                  Hakka Restaurant's Family Dinner Specials:

                                   
                                   
                                   
                    3. re: K K

                      The dishes I asked about were the fish, cuttle fish and meat balls that in Hakka style food can be wonderful. The chef needs time to get the feel of the new kitchen.

                      Another dish that was discuss was the stuffed boneless chicken and duck.

                      Lastly I want to know if they would do rice leftovers from making rice wine dishes.

                      All hopefully will be available soon.

                      I will be call up to see what the status of the new dishes.

                      The most expensive dish on the menu is their Buddha Jumps Over the Wall at $320. Recently had BJOTW at South Sea on Irving at a family dinner. Not really into dried seafood and shark fin. Since I did not pay for the do not know the price (since is was someone else treat I did not want to ask or check out the menus)>

                      1. re: yimster

                        Also the chicken stuffed inside a pig's stomach ala haggis.

                    4. As I told Melanie in the separate discussion, our family booked one of their tables upstairs for our CNY banquet. As an aside, I've been to this location during its two previous incarnations (Taishan Cafe & Happy Immortal for those of you who remember that one) and I've never known they had a separate banquet room upstairs. Anyway we liked eating upstairs since it's more quieter and less hectic than eating in the main dining room. Service was great too considering we were the only table in that room. The smaller tables in the hallway outside were filled though. Anyway, we ordered the $198 CNY special dinner that's listed in SF Weekly.

                      1) Dried Scallop and Fishbelly Soup - Actually the correct translation is Dried Scallop w/ fish belly Golden Soup. The golden coming from the Kabocha squash. Yes it tastes more like a pumpkin puree soup that you get in a Western restaurant than the same old same old. People at our party raved about the soup. The squash was not overpowering either.

                      2) Seafood Lettuce Wrap: Couldn't really see the seafood since everything was chopped up. There's pork, some dried oysters and water chestnuts. This was pretty good.

                      3) Hakka Special Chicken: This is their salty baked chicken. Chicken was good without being salty. It wasn't dried out either.

                      4) Honey Walnut Prawns: I really like this dish. Sometimes it's a hit or miss at other restaurants but they did this just right. Just the right amount of mayonaise and it wasn't greasy or overly fried. The walnuts were good too. They threw in some broccoli as garnish but you can eat these.

                      5) Ginger Scallion Lobster: Another winner. You can tell it's fresh because one bite is like pure heaven. Nice and firm and the taste is unbelievable. Sorry I can't put this to words but it was great!

                      6) Sauteed Clams: This was a big dish! More clams for the buck so the speak. It's not just a dish with empty shells. There were enough clams for our party.

                      7) Bamboo Pith over Pea Sprouts: Another winner. The pea sprouts were nice and tender. Some restaurants would give you the more mature sprouts which are inedible and feels like you're eating grass. The bamboo pith was also 100% pith, not the outer inedible crap that comes wrapped in the dry pith (some are guilty of serving this). The broth in this dish was also incredibly yummy.

                      8) Steamed Bass: That was one big fish! We've eaten in restaurants where they gave us fish 1/2 the size. There was enough fish for all of us.

                      9) Sticky Rice wrapped in Lotus leaves: This looked like a big honking serving of chinese chicken tamale. It's basically sticky rice with sausage, mushrooms and all the other goodies. Rice was pretty good.

                      We requested that they tone down the salt and grease and they honored our request. Service was prompt and food was excellent. This is probably our new go to place for family gatherings.

                      -----
                      Hakka Restaurant
                      4401 Cabrillo St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: asianstamp

                        Thanks again for letting us know about Hakka Restaurant! Appreciate the rundown on the $198 banquet, sounds very solid too. While you asked for less salt and grease, we didn't for our lunch and maybe it's not really necessary since the chef has such a light touch. I am so craving those clams now, were they sauteed with basil or another prep?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          The clams were sauteed in black bean sauce. It was good.

                          My folks always ask for less salt/grease everywhere they go. A lot of the chinese restaurants seem to enjoy throwing that salt shaker around. HR is pretty solid.

                      2. Some notes on the specific dishes:

                        Seafood and soft tofu soup – Light fish stock, thickened ever so slightly and fluffed up with beaten egg whites, with grass mushrooms, chunks of sweet scallops and cubes of delicate tofu in suspension. After adding a shake of white pepper at the table, everything came into focus. Normally this would have shrimp in it too, but we asked that it be left out for our crustacean-allergic dining companion. The mostly white-on-white color scheme sans shrimp was quite striking.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Crab with salted egg yolk – A good-sized crab, and as can be seen from the delectable crab butter and tomalley under the carapace, quite fat and plump. Loved the rich and salty tone contributed by the salted egg yolks contrasting with the natural sweetness of the Dungeness. A crab this size would run about $35 at R&G Lounge vs. $23 here.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Home style frog legs with basil – Fine example showing the chef’s light touch, slippery smooth and meaty frog with the slightest medium-rare resistance, delicate sheen of reduced juices as sauce, a whisper of red chile piquancy, juicy and crunchy celery greenness, anise-minty tones and aromas from the fresh basil. Bravo!
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...

                        Arrowroot bulbs with roast pig – This new year’s dish of velvety-textured, starchy arrowroot coins braised with abundant roast pig in a savory almost caramelized gravy would keep any meat and potatoes eater happy. The oysters our waiter had said would be part of this dish were AWOL. While I did miss their briny contribution, the dish was more robust without the bivalves and still delicious nonetheless.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Bamboo pith and pea shoots (vegetarian) – Snowy web-like pith soaked in the delicious seasoning broth and then released a burst of flavor with each bite. I found the pea shoots a little underdone, but that’s a quibble. Again, a very light hand at work here.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Salt baked chicken served with ginger-scallion sauce and pan drippings – The real deal, at long last! Roasted to a golden brown and tenderness of flesh, the chicken was hacked through the bone into bite-size pieces and served slightly warm. The skin was delicious and the juicy meat less salty than I expected. A bit of either of the two condiments tipped the balance point and all was right with the world. Looking at the small dish of dark sauce with the thick oil slick, I couldn’t figure out what it might be. When I ran the spoon through it and felt the gritty texture under the oily layer, I thought it might be sandy sacha sauce, but that wouldn’t match this dish at all. But then I tasted it . . . omigod, the concentrated essence of roast chicken, baking salts, and the golden rendered fat from the bird. This minimalist prep showed off the taste of the Chinese heritage bird so beautifully.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        Sauteed lily bulbs with tree ears (vegetarian) – Lovely composition for this vegetarian stir-fry, painting vivid color for the eye as well as juicy crunch, fresh sweetness, musky depth, and bright green flavors that wake up the mouth.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Stuffed tofu in supreme broth – Served in soup as a special request, and what soup this was! The mark of a Chinese master chef is skill at stock-making, and we got a glimpse and taste of the chef’s talent in this department. Richly meaty with the taste of the bones, yet still light, clear, cleansing and restorative with a slight pepperiness from the Chinese brassica. Stuffed with pork forcemeat and then pan-seared, the tofu part wasn’t shabby either.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        Beef short ribs with black pepper and honey sauce – Tender but still toothsome cross-cut short ribs lightly glazed with well-balanced saucing.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Pork bacon with preserved greens – Often I don’t bother eating the preserved greens served with this classic Hakka dish, as too often they’re dried out, too moldy, or overly salty. These had a much better texture and cleaner flavor. The rind and fat of the braised pork melted like jelly. The meat was tender but held together. Since the restaurant is so new, the master sauce is not yet as deep and complex as found at older establishments, but it was well-balanced in sweet and salty elements. The master sauce is good now and surely will be even better in the weeks to come as more orders pass through the kitchen. I liked the presentation with both fresh and preserved greens to lift this rich dish.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                        Dried scallops and egg white fried rice steamed in lotus leaf – Loved the fanciful presentation of this dish, carving open and popping the “lid” off the lotus leaf wrapper. The lotus added an undefinable je ne sais quoi to the aroma and flavor.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkbell...
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaise...

                        Reading over my dining companions’ descriptors, the adjectives that run through this thread repeatedly are: fresh, light, subtle, true, authentic, and delicate. That should be the summary for the style, skill and flavor to be found at Hakka Restaurant.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Last night at Hakka, we had a few dishes that i don't think have been mentioned before.

                          The House Special Clams were outstanding - these are not the black bean version, but rather have a delicious basil sauce. [Edit: I see these were mentioned below, with equal enthusiasm.]

                          The XO sauce Lamb (House Special Hot Sauce with Lamb) was the only loser of the evening. Just didn't work.

                          Pumpkin Strips with Salted Egg -- wow! delicious, tender, complex, even if fried and unhealthy. I suspect this is the same or similar crust as on the crab, which we postponed until nextime.

                          Also loved the Short Ribs with Black Pepper and Honey and the Chinese Pork Bacon.

                          Our suspicious though charming waiter spent nearly 5 minutes trying to talk us out of the bacon. Because we were a table of two sixty-something round-eye couples, he was sure we wouldn't like it. Finally we told him we were really Chinese but from a region where people look European and he relented.

                          He did point us at the Pumpkin strips, which I was avoiding because of previous bad experience with some dishes I imagined this would be like -- and he won many points (and tip) for that! When he delivered the bacon, he asked if we were sure twice more and later was very surprised to see it had disappeared quickly.

                          Still later, 3/4 of the way through the meal, he appeared with a handful of forks...but then finally asked if we would like the Chinese dessert, a delicious tapioca, pumpkin soup.

                          1. re: Thomas Nash

                            "Finally we told him we were really Chinese but from a region where people look European and he relented. "

                            Really, he should have been able to pick up your accent! The service was a true stand-out here, as good as the kitchen's cooking.

                            Thanks for reporting on the pumpkin strips. I had thought I'd ordered it at our chowlunch, but I guess not.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              "Finally we told him we were really Chinese but from a region where people look European and he relented. "

                              That is the funniest thing ever. I'll have to remember that when I'm complimented for my use of chopsticks. Maybe I'll say I'm chinese/polish, on my mother's side. And keep a picture of a random chinese woman in my wallet.

                              1. re: bbulkow

                                We went back Friday night and he didn't blink an eye when I ordered the pork bacon. The preserved cabbage is wonderful -- texture of wild mushrooms almost. We also tried the stuffed tofu, which was interesting.

                                Most interesting, the big table next door had 2 order-in-advance dishes which look incredible. One is a whole stuffed duck (with sticky rice + ? ) at $48. The other was a stuffed chicken at something like $28. Both are on the menu at the restaurant( but not on the take out menu I have).

                                Quite a chef.

                        2. John and I have been to Hakka Restaurant twice since the chowdown and have really enjoyed our meals there. Some dishes that we didn't have at the chowdown included House Special Clams, an absolutely delicious dish with loads of clams in a spicy thai basil sauce and Sauteed Lily Turnip & Fungus w/Scallops and Shrimps, another winner that also contained sugar snap peas,carrots, celery and ginger. The flavors were vibrant and fresh and the dish was also very colorful and the seafood was perfectly cooked. They also served us the daily soup, an interesting and good broth with a bit of pork shoulder that also conatained big chunks of not quite ripe papaya. This added a subtle fruitiness without overpowering sweetness. And for dessert both times, they gave us a really nice warm sweet tapioca soup that was studded with little bits of cooked pumpkin. The service was friendly and they really sought to please us. It's becoming a regular haunt for us even though it's about as far across the city as you can get from our house. Highly recommended!!

                          --NancyB

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Nancy Berry

                            Thanks, Nancy, now I'm feeling like a schlub for not making the cross-town trip to return yet. Almost went back last week when my mother was visiting but we had Vietnamese instead. I guess we're figuring out the "house special" xxxx is the code word for sauteed with basil. When you're there next, please do ask about wine-cooked dishes. We need to remind the chef that there's demand for this Hakka standard.

                          2. Patricia Untermann wrote a review on the restaurant (complete w/ pic of said fired pumpkin):

                            http://www.sfexaminer.com/entertainme...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: asianstamp

                              Oh nuts! The crowds following this will only reinforce my favorite waiter's preconceptions of round-eye tastes. And she mentions the pork bacon dish, which they will all try... aargh

                              1. re: asianstamp

                                Thanks everyone for their reports! It's so rare to hear about good Hakka restaurant anywhere. I am so excited about this restaurant that I may have to trek out there this weekend.

                                1. re: ricegeek

                                  We went last weekend for dinner and thoroughly enjoy our meal. What we ordered:

                                  - salt baked chicken. This was a bit of disappointment for us since we had such high hopes. We did like the chicken itself, which was tasty, with fresh and tender chicken. However, the flavor is far more muted than what authentic "Dong Jiang salted chicken" taste like.

                                  - pork belly with preserved cabbage. Very good rendition of the dish, with top quality pork belly and excellent execution. The result is melting, succulent, flavorful chunks of pork. The preserved cabbage, which is tender and flavorful without tasting like wet paper as is usually the case, is also worthy of high praise.

                                  - braised tofu. This is a simple braised tofu dish that can be found in very cantonese restaurant, but the execution here is above average. Fresh tofu and snap peas without globs of sauce overpowering the ingredients.

                                  - Deep fried pumpkin with salted egg. This was a pleasant surprise as we were originally going to cancel this dish. The waiter suggest that we give it a shot and we loved it. The pumpkins are cut into small carrot stick sizes, fried in a batter sprinkled with salted egg yoke. The sweetness of the pumpkin gel with the savory batter. Not sure if this is the chef's creation or a new trend in chinese restaurants. But either way, it's a winner. The waiter also told us at the end of the meal that this was one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant.

                                  - Salt and pepper spare ribs. Very forgettable rendition of a popular dish in chinese restaurant. Though it was not bad, compare to the quality of other dishes, it's not worth mentioning. Won't be ordering this again.

                                  - XO sauce fried rice. Very flavorful fried rice, not a bad deal by itself.

                                  At the beginning of the dinner, we were served a soup with snow ear and a porky, clear broth. At the end of the meal, we were served a sweet dessert soup with pumpkin. Both were complimentary of the meal. I think there was also a 10% Grand Opening discount, which is plastered on the front window. Though I didn't check my bill carefully enough to see if we got it.

                                  Overall, we would definitely go back. For the price, Hakka is by far the best Chinese in the Bay Area I have had. Just judging by the quality of the food, it would still easily rank in top 3 Bay Area chinese restaurant on my list.

                                  -----
                                  Hakka Restaurant
                                  4401 Cabrillo St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                  1. re: ricegeek

                                    i have to ask. what are the other two? :)

                                    1. re: possumspice

                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge and Zen Peninsula in Millbrae are the other two so far. Although I am limited what I have tried in the Bay Area so far (not been to Koi Palace yet).

                                      -----
                                      Koi Palace Restaurant
                                      365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                      Zen Peninsula
                                      1180 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

                              2. Another article from Joanthan Kauffman, March 31, 2010 in the SF Weekly, highlighting the Hakka cuisine, featuring one of one of Hakka Restaurant's special dishes, Pumpkin Fried in Egg Yolk Batter, found at the following link:

                                http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-03-31/re...

                                -----
                                Hakka Restaurant
                                4401 Cabrillo St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                 
                                1. I really enjoyed the home style frog at this restaurant. The frog was light and sweet...almost like delicate crab, or white fish....have people had the frog prepared other ways at this restaurant, and where else do people recommend for top-notch frog?

                                  Final question: is there a chinese -only menu, or is does this restaurant get extra points for making all of its dishes available (well, as least translated) to all the customers?

                                  1. their salt baked chicken looks rather nice. what i had in Hakka heartland Meizhou: http://bonvivantnl.fotopic.net/p55180... . do they have boiled meat balls on the menu? they're e.ve.ry.where in Hakka heartland, unfortunately they have absolutely no taste. it puzzled me though. i thought they could just add (dried) cabbage which is Hakka's soul food. [cabbage: http://saudades.proboards.com/index.c...

                                    ]

                                    good to know that people are becoming more aware of Hakka food. i really like cabbage and turnips any way the Hakka makes it.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Pata_Negra

                                      Is the arrowroot with pork a regular menu item or was it a New Year's special? I went last week and the waiter had no knowledge of this dish or arrowroot. I couldn't find it on the regular, specials, or banquet menus either.

                                      1. re: alfredck

                                        Arrowroot and Pork is normally a New Year's dish in our family and may or may not be on the regular menu. If I remember correct arrowroot is seasonal vegetable. At least it was, but now growing seasons are longer and storage is better.