As a child growing up in San Francisco, I remember many a time accompanying my Dad to a Chinatown joint, where he’d order a plate of fluffy steamed rice topped with an ample portion of cleaver-chopped roasted duck for all of $5.
It was cheap, filling and satisfying.
I couldn’t help but flash back to that no-frills dish when I had a far more luxurious version recently at Hakkasan in San Francisco, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
Oh sure, you can have roast duck with rice here. But it’ll set you back $40.
Yes, that plate of duck alone — 12 slices of gorgeous mahogany skin each covering a sliver of meat resting on a smear of hoisin sauce — is $36.
Nope, this is definitely not my late-Dad’s duck rice plate. Nor his kind of Chinese restaurant. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
It’s just that for most of us accustomed to mom-and-pop neighborhood Chinese food at moderate prices, Hakkasan’s steep tab can be a shock.
But should it be? After all, so many of us are willing to shell out hundreds of dollars per person for a tasting menu at all manner of Western restaurants. So should we blanch when a Chinese restaurant dares enter that realm of cost?
Hakkasan does offer up luxuriousness to the max. With outposts in Dubai, Miami and Las Vegas, Hakkasan is as glitzy as you can imagine.
It’s located in the iconic One Kearny building off Market St. Walk through the door to find a host at a stark, blue-purple illuminated counter who will instruct you to take the elevator up to the second floor to the restaurant. The aroma of incense is already noticeable and assaults even more when the elevator opens up to the restaurant.