Coffee & Tea

San Francisco Bay Area

Samovar Tea Lounge - Yerba Buena Gardens

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Samovar Tea Lounge - Yerba Buena Gardens

Jupiter | Apr 26, 2006 08:21 PM

Went for lunch today, since the weather was nice and sat outside.
I love this setting and view, and when i am stuck at work at 5th and powell, hating the very exsistence of EVERYONE around me, it is nice to be able to disappear to a relativley quiet, very clean, ultra sunny, open space and relax for a while. Since my usual spot was co-opted by Samovar Tea Lounge, i decided to just eat there and see what they have.

The menu is such a great and appealing idea. Lunch is a tea service: American, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, etc... You choose a tea, an entree, and get fruit and desert as well. While i found this idea great and appealing, there was something on the tiny a la carte section of the menu that caught my eye and i couldn't look away : Tea Noodles with Broiled lobster tail and braised greens. It just sounded good, and while my expectations were low, i ordered it anyway, since it was only 14 dollars. (and while that is expensive for lunch, i was feeling rather defeated after my ridiculous night last night and decided i needed a reward)

I ordered a pot of pu-erh tea and the elaborate 3 part process appeared in front of me along with my iron pot of hot water and the ceremony began. i poured, i drank, i sat in the sun, i shut my eyes, i drank some more, i stared at a bird, i spoke with my friend and i poured some more. Our food arrived. My friend had the american tea service : a chicken salad sandwich, a deconstructed fruit salad of strawberries, kiwis, apples, pears, oranges, all in big wedges lined up on the plate, with a very large beautiful chicken salad sandwich. My food arrived. the lobster tail was from a pacific spiny lobster. The noodles were thick like fettucine and tossed in a tea oil that tasted like a cross between sesame oil and toasted oolong and chiles. the greens were watercress (yay!)
the dish was actually pretty good, the lobster tail had clearly been frozen, but did not have that frozen taste and chewy texture, they managed to not overcook it to toughness and the crispy charred end bits were delicious. The noodles had a fantastic texture and mouthfeel, the only down side was that the noodles had clearly been cooked first, and looked like they were tossed in the oil with the watercress and then poured on to the plate and probably had to wait a bit for the lobster tail to catch up, so by the time the dish arrived the noodles had started to clump together in some parts, but a quick toss with my knife and fork fixed that sticking problem.

The only other major negative : the tea oil could have used salt to help bring out the flavors a bit more. (the sesame flavor overpowered the tea flavor and the noodles were so thick for the thin oil toss, that at some parts that were not coated well enough and the flavor just disappeared)

The Maiden's Ecstacy Pu-Erh tea was awesome. perfect. delicious.

and my friend said that his chicken salad sandwich was surprisingly good, since he also was not expecting very much. I would say that they are on par with Imperial Tea Court, in the ferry building. the food is very good, but the focus is definitely the tea, and the menu is constructed to clearly accomodate that.

all in all, for my nice outdoor relaxing decadent lunch downtown, this certainly hit the spot.

lunch for 2 with tip : $38.00

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