The art of Asian food and wine pairing reaches new heights at San Francisco’s Eight Tables restaurant

Wine and food pairing is often referred to as both an art and a science. The wine seems to go particularly well with the local cuisine of the country of origin, such as French and Italian cuisine with French and Italian wines. However, matching wines to Asian food flavors is often seen as more difficult. Especially dishes with distinctive herbs, spices and flavors compared to traditional Western cuisine. But at the end of a small alley in San Francisco’s Chinatown, George Chen’s Eight His Tables At his restaurant, the food and wine team pair fine Chinese cuisine with some of the world’s top wines. We have reached new gastronomic heights.

“Most people don’t think Chinese food goes well with grape varietals, but that’s completely false,” says Executive Chef and Founder George Cheng. Table of 2017. His focus was to showcase the finest Chinese cuisine and pay the same respect as China with its Michelin-starred quality of food and service. Considering, the restaurant includes a wine list of over 450. Eight Tables has won several awards, including Time magazine’s 2018 list of the World’s 100 Best Restaurants.

Si Fang Cai’s Chinese Private Dining Experience

Eight Tables is designed according to the fine Chinese dining tradition of “Si Fang Cai”. This means a personal dining experience at home with a special chef, also known as ‘Private Chateau Cuisine’. In China, these “private restaurants” are often hidden away down secret alleys and require a password to enter. Therefore, Eight Tables requires a passcode even to enter a locked gate. Then, walk down narrow alleyways and take a private girlfriend elevator to a living room decorated with Chen’s family photos and relaxing furniture.

As the number ‘8’ has a special meaning in China and signifies good luck, the restaurant has only 8 tables and is divided into 8 secluded sections of the restaurant with soft lighting and pale colors. wooden rounded and polished table. The menu consists of his eight courses ($250 per person), with optional wine pairings for each course ($200 per person). After being closed for almost a year and a half during the pandemic, the restaurant will reopen in mid-2021. A welcoming and professional staff of 15 to 20 employees, dressed in formal suits and ties, many trained in San Francisco’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

Both the wine and the food are seasonal and very creative. “Here we use pure ingredients and emphasize seasonal menus,” Chen explains. “The creations are modern and interpretative, but always with deep cultural relevance and faithfully cooked to ‘mother’s’ cuisine. ”

Wine and food pairing at Eight Tables restaurant

Sommelier Peter Steiner works closely with Chen and co-chef Floyd Nunn, previously working with Quince and Bennu to create seasonal wine-pairing menus. “Wine is meant to bring out the nuances of a dish, and vice versa,” Chen says. “Slightly richer dishes require wines with a more neutral palate and a good acid backbone to balance the flavors. (tropical) and mineral wines are best, we change wines quite often and our somme Peter Steiner pairs many evolving dishes with Chef Nan’s creations. You have my general approval to match.”

The first of the eight courses is the most visually stunning and famous. Known as the “Nine Great Tastes of Chinese Cuisine” or “Jigong Pavilion”, the dish consists of nine dim sum-style courses of salty, sour, sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and three main Chinese dishes, each with Featuring different classic flavors. Aroma: truffle, rose shrimp, smoky noodles.

In this course, Steiner Vintage 2013 Champagne Larmandier Bernier Premier Cru“I always recommend a nice bubble in the first course,” says Chen. The pairing is excellent, as the bubbles, minerals and fresh citrus both complement the different bites and cleanse the palate for the next taste. I warn you to try the plum sauce before the date. good advice.

The rest of the seven courses are individual dishes, each artistically arranged and beautifully presented, with service captain Gregory Johnson explaining the preparation and ingredients for each dish. Present and pour into elegantly designed Riedel and Zart crystal wine glasses. The August 2022 menu included the following wine and food pairings:

  1. 9 essential flavors of Chinese cuisine 2013 Champagne Larmandier Bernier Premier Cru, France
  2. egg flow
    Flow 2
    er Sour with JJ Plum Riesling 2020 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett, Germany
  3. Steamed Monterey squid Huber 2020 Gruner Veltliner Obere Steigen, Austria
  4. Dandan with porcini mushrooms Sake Hamagawa Shoten “Hina”, Japan
  5. Lapsang Smoked Squab Joysef BFF Blaufrankisch 2020 (natural wine), Austria
  6. With longevity noodles Melville Syrah 2018 Santa Rita Hills, CA
  7. Iberian pork with char siu Spotswood Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley, CA
  8. Jasmine tea bubbly pudding Royal Tokaji Furmit 2018, Tokaji, Hungary

Perhaps one of the nicest pairings was the fifth course, dry aged, smoked and cooked with plum sauce and sticky rice.tart berry flavor JOICFP BFF 2020 Blaufrankish It was the perfect foil for savory duck, and fruity notes of berries and plums made for a delightful marriage in the mouth.

Steiner’s philosophy on wine and food pairing is highly artistic. “I follow my senses and instincts,” he says. “I’ve tasted wine and know exactly which dishes it goes with.”

Steiner demonstrated this by bringing a second bottle of wine to pair with the Iberian pork char siu course. The original Spotswood 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon showcased the charcoal, saltiness, and fine texture of the pork, but taken it to the next level. Weingut Brundlmayer 2018 Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal, AustriaSteiner says that Austria is the largest consumer of pork among the EU countries and that its signature grape, Gruner Veltliner, has a complex spicy aroma and pairs beautifully with many pork dishes. explained.

Two wine collections at Eight Tables Restaurant

Eight Tables actually has two wine collections. The first, evident upon entering the restaurant, towers to the left of the living room with a large glass case filled with rare bottles of wine. hidden. More recent wines are included, including most of the wines offered in the food and wine pairings.

“Most of the rare wines were from my collection dating back to the early 80s,” Chen explains. “At first we didn’t have the budget to procure old wines for the library, so a few collector investors and I helped bring in the commissioned wines. Highlights are older vintages like 47 Cheval Blancs, 45 first grade Bordeaux and DRC, CA Cult is all there, I like CA wines from the 70’s, low alcohol and good extraction. Low… Guess why Napa won the verdict in Paris.”

Wine list prices start at $50 per 750ml bottle Nieport, Roturo, Dao, Portugal 2015 up to $50,000 Chateau Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion 1947Other expensive gemstones include $28,000 Romanee-Conti, Grand Cru, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1969 $9,500 Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley 2018We also have 20 types of glass wine, sake, whiskey, and tea. The corkage fee is $75 per bottle for him.

Chen concludes with the wisdom of a chef who has worked in the restaurant industry for over 30 years and owns many classic wines. “I love older wines because they are simply more interesting….these wines are alive and tasting history is one of life’s great joys. Close your eyes, take a sip and smile.” If it becomes… it suits you.”

Below is a short video of the alleyway entrance to Eight Tables and some of the eight dishes. Produced by Chelsea Cannell for Destination California.

Chelsea Canell is featuring George Chen’s Eight Tables at Destination California!

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