Lily is a not-yet opened Cal-Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco’s Richmond District. We hope that it will survive San Francisco’s restaurant shut-down and will open once the Coronavirus allows us to go out to restaurants again.If it does, it is definitely a place to go if the food is even 50% as good as the pre-opening dinner we attended pre-Coronavirus in February 2020.
Rob Lam is the chef. He previously owned and operated San Francisco’s Butterfly and Oakland’s Perle Wine Bar. He worked with Tablehopper’s Marcia Gagliardi to create a multi-course, pre-opening feast. And to make it even better, different Henriot champagnes accompanied each course.
A Wonderful Beginning
Our entry into the beautifully-designed space was celebrated with a flute of non-vintage Henriot Blanc de Blancs and a generous dash of California’s Tsar Nicoulai white sturgeon caviar. The first course came in the form of five Vietnamese-inspired passed appetizers while the crowd of roughly 60 Tablehopper subscribers mingled over generous champagne refills and caviar tastes. These passed bites included:
- Avocado, Dungeness crab and Kauai shrimp rolls with strawberry fish sauce;
- Caviar with crema atop crisped chicken skin;
- Bone Marrow and beef carpaccio tartare with lime fish sauce; and
- Beef pho dip sliders on Hawaiian bread with hoisin sriracha sauce.
Sit Down Second Course
We then sat at tables for a three-course, family-style second course. Henriot non-vintage Brut Rose (glasses and refills) accompanies this course. Each dish was superb:
- Hue-style oxtail stew with soft and fried tofu and red shiso;
- Tumeric-grilled fish with Vietnamese herb salad, pineapple-fermented shrimp sauce and sesame crackers; and
- A platter of Hanoi-style barbequed rice noodles with sambal and herb salad.
The third course was accompanied with a more complex and more balanced Henriot 2008 vintage Brut Millesime. It included three more family-style dishes of:
- Crisp roast duck confit with apple hoisin vinegar and pickled vegetables;
- Shaking beef with crispy egg noodle cake and a stir-fry of diver scallops and Kauai shrimp; and
- Lightly-fried, whole red snapper with Chinese sausage and pepper stir-fry, caramel nuoc cham sauce and lettuce for wrapping.
And Then Came Dessert
Henriot Brut Souverain was poured with the delicious dessert of crème brulee with mung bean candy and black sesame brittle.
And a Good Time Was Had by All
Although service at the not-yet opened restaurant sometimes struggled to keep up with the appetites of 60 foodies and so many courses, the food never missed the mark. While some dishes, such as the crab and shrimp rolls, the duck and the snapper were particular hits, all were quite good.
And Chef Lam and representatives from Henriot and Tsar Nicolai were all around for discussions or explains their offerings. A good time was had by all. The night was an auspicious pre-opening for Lily and for the launch of Tablehopper’s fifteenth year. We hope Lily’s opens once restaurants are allowed to once again operate in San Francisco. When It does, we will definitely visit the Clement Street location.