#SFEats: Hanlin Tea Restaurant

Can I just say this is one of the few places that I really enjoyed when it comes to it being a tea house? From the outside there’s not much to see, it’s a tannish building with nothing much telling you about what the restaurant is about until you step in. We came here to have a late snack with a friend and catch up before we left for SFO. If and when they are busy they have a waiting list that you put your name on to wait. I jotted my name down and we waited at the front.

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Courtesy of Postmates

One of the things I really loved, it was their decor. It’s modern yet has a sense of class and elegance that I really liked that left a taste of traditional taste to whole interior. The best thing about that observation is that it may have had that traditional ambiance, but it wasn’t so much that it felt old and outdated. Their interior design was of dark wood with lighter green and yellows that left a refreshing and bright oomph of color that really complemented each other. It was a design that both appeased older generations as well hip enough to attract the younger generation without needing to sacrifice either target markets like most modern tea houses (design their stores solely to attract young people).

While I was admiring their interior design, we only waited about 10 minutes before we were sat at a booth seating. Their tables came with built in hot pot induction heaters which I thought was really cool. Their seats were comfy and very spacious table size wise so that you can definitely enjoy a larger meal with friends and family without feeling cramped. I loved that their menu had a bunch of Taiwanese eats that included my favorite Cantonese breakfast item: turnip cake. Unusual of a Taiwanese tea house to sell something like that, but I was thrilled. We ordered turnip cake, sliced pork, tea eggs, popcorn chicken, honey green tea and a green milk tea. Their menu also have the usual entrees, rice, noodles, even main a la carte dishes as well as hot pots (something I definitely want to try next time).

Everything was quite scrumptious, not a high end type of good, rather a homey nostalgic good that we appreciated. The drinks were brewed correctly so that it wasn’t too watered down, albeit a little sweet for my preference. I loved that the turnip cake wasn’t the usual rectangle slabs of grilled turnip cake, instead they were little small cubes of deliciousness that was easy to use your hands to take and eat. The tea eggs were also tasty (honestly something hard to fuck up for Taiwanese specialty stores) that had that nice pu’er tea aroma lingering in the aftertaste.

It’s definitely a place that I would come back to again if I’m ever back in Chinatown, San Francisco. A nice, clean, roomy and well designed restaurant (very hard to come by when SF space is so limited and tight making most stores and restaurants very small and narrow). The snacks and drinks were also good, it’s a great place to bring friends and family to hangout or catch up!

Rating: ★★★★☆
Address: 801 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108 at Washington St, Chinatown
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:00am-10:00pm

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