Friday, February 23, 2007
Local sustainable Chinese. I finally took my chance at lunch after keeping a watch on Harmony, the new Chinese restaurant very close to my house. It had seemed rather inaccessible before, the crowds looking daunting. I'd been missing a very local Chinese place ever since Szechwan Flowers left Strawberry Village. And there's really no comparison as Szechwan Flowers was a very family-style typical Chinese restaurant, and Harmony is a reinterpretive upscale type.
I was delighted to find that they serve dim sum (all day in fact), and that the portions were such that a single diner could also enjoy a dim sum lunch. I started with tea however, and had a nice chat with the waiter about various types and the best tea vessels to use. I tried some Poy Nay, a black tea with a intense, smoky, fermented flavor. I really liked the touches on the tableware as well. The cup was handmade with interesting uneven curves, and the plate had rolled up sides, so easy to balance your chopsticks on!
Out came the grilled turnip cake made with a puree of sweet Chinese turnips and shitake mushrooms. The waiter, who I think must have been the owner, mentioned that this dish was organic, and he seemed to have picked out several of the items I admired in the restaurant. How many people do you know that would rave over a dish made with TURNIPS? Well, this one was over the top and has put turnips in a very different place on my culinary map.
The Lotus Leaf Rice came out next, done to perfection - sticky and flavorful. The steamer was quite decorative as well. I also noted the thoughtful architectural and decorative touches which gave the dining room a warm inviting feel, and visual interest points.
Finally, my Peking Duck came out with scallions, steamed bun and hoisin sauce. I assembled it myself for the photo. It was a perfect bite. Some of my Yelp associates downrated this restaurant on the basis of price, but it is really not fair to compare this place to worn, beaten out dives that are populous in San Francisco's Chinatown, albeit many with good food, nor the Americanized voluminous portion, mediocre places that dot much of Marin with their corporate clean, yet sterile decor. This is Chinese haute cuisine with a local, sustainable twist, as befits a Marin venue. A better comparitor would be Tommy Toy's with Marin sensibilities. I'll definitely return here (with some friends!).