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San Francisco Bay Area Hunan

100 short reviews, Hawthorne Lane, Helmand, Henry's Hunan

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100 short reviews, Hawthorne Lane, Helmand, Henry's Hunan

Paul H | Jun 20, 2003 03:09 PM

Hawthorne Lane - An elegant and sleek upscale restaurant in SoMa that serves amazing good American gourmet cuisine with the occasional Asian influence. There are two rooms, one with a gorgeous curving polished cherry wood bar and cafe-like booths, and a more refined dining room sporting an open kitchen. The food is good enough to make your eyes widen when you take the first bite. There are deep, yet refined flavors, and the dishes are carefully created with contrasting textures. Although this is a very expensive place, there is a $30 chef’s three-course tasting menu that is a bargain. A recent example featured "Potato leek soup with asparagus relish and pistachio drizzle", plus a "Grilled pork chop with sweet corn and fava bean succotash trumpet mushrooms and foie gras sauce." - Recommended

Helmand - For a long time, San Francisco’s Afghani restaurant was owned "anonymously" by Mahmoud Karzai; now his brother, Hamid Karzai, is the the head of Afghan government and this place isn't so invisible. Even when it was relatively unkonw, Helmand made this somewhat seedy section of Broadway worth visiting. Afghani food is related to Moguli and Persian food, but is a bit less spicy. The lamb dishes here are fantastic and you will have your choice of interesting differently spiced yogurt sauces and great flat breads. The service is helpful and friendly. The prices are so reasonable you will think you are eating in a Persian bazar, but the food is so good, you will be certain that the chef is descended from Alexander the Great’s chef. Recommended.

Henry's Hunan - A local chain of four temples to Hunan cuisine. The digs vary from the seedy diner ambiance of the SoMa/Bryant location to the sleek and gargantuan lunch palace on Natoma at 2nd. These unpretentious restaurants often show up on lists of the 10-best Chinese places in the city, as well they should. The food is spicy, tasty, and a bracing change from the tamer Cantonese fare offered at so many other places. Make certain to try out the house specials, including Smoked Ham with String Beans and Diana's Meat Pie, Onion Cake, and Dumplings. Highly Recommended

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