Food at Eight Tables in San Francisco
Robert Birnbach

Eight Tables

San Francisco, California

George Chen has opened more than a dozen restaurants, including the James Beard Award–nominated Betelnut, but Eight Tables has been lauded as his most ambitious one to date. It stars a 10-course, high-end showcase of sifang cai, or private chateau cuisine, an experience popular during the Qing dynasty, when Chinese elite had private chefs and would invite friends to their homes for grand and elegant meals. The $225 meal starts, for instance, with nine small bites representing the nine essential flavors of Chinese cuisine, ranging from sweet (dates stuffed with chrysanthemum honey) to spicy (beef tendons topped with Sichuan peppercorns) and is studded with luxurious ingredients, like foie gras and caviar. To evoke a private chateau, Chen hired design firm AvroKO. The studio skipped the usual bar area for a bar cart, hung photos of Chen’s father and grandfather in the reception area, and carved out a semi-private room for each of the eight tables. —Kate Rockwood

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