Walking into Hakkasan, the new modern Cantonese restaurant that’s taken over the second floor of the 1902 building at One Kearny, you get a distinct feeling that the blue light’s special. Turns out, glass, illuminated in azure, is among the signatures of this luxury Chinese restaurant chain that’s been stirring the pot in London, Dubai, and, most recently in New York, where the outpost earned a Michelin star.
The San Francisco location, which opened in December, is the chain’s eighth worldwide and third in the U.S. Befitting its renegade zip code, the 170-seat restaurant, kitted out by Parisian design firm Giles & Boissier, breaks from the pack with its centerpiece—a slick chrome horseshoe bar. According to Hakkasan’s West Coast operations director, Richard Toshio Miyashiro—a restaurant vet who also opened Jardinière, Farallon, and Boulevard—the bar’s prominence is as much about preserving the wedge-like design of the historic building (by the same people who built the Brooklyn Bridge) as it is about adapting to the local dining scene. “This is such an eat-at-the-bar town,” says Miyashiro. “We’ve got a unique bar space here. We really turned the Hakkasan experience inside out.”
The bar, which has partial views of chefs cooking with special woks from Hong Kong, is one of three perches in the space, each fragrant with incense. Dotted with orange leather banquettes and hand-blown glass pendant lights, the Ling Ling lounge is prime for cocktails and hosts a rotating roster of DJs. And the main dining room, with its white leather banquettes embroidered with dragons, is called the “cage” for its lattice partitions made of laser-cut metal and dark oak wood. With so many different sensory experiences, taking it all in can be overwhelming. But as Miyashiro points out, that’s kind of the point. “Each [space] has its own story, and you can’t really discover them all at the same time. So, hopefully, you have no choice but to keep coming back.
This article was published in 7x7's February issue. Click here to subscribe.