Judge From ‘Iron Chef: Vietnam’ Returns to SF with Vietnamese Tasting Menu Restaurant

Khai Restaurant – SoMa, High-End Vietnamese

Khai Duong is considered one of the world’s best Asian chefs, and after a 5 year stint in Vietnam, he has returned to SF and opened up an high-end Vietnamese restaurant in SoMa, offering a 10 course tasting menu for $95/person.

Renting out out SoMa’s Bonjour Patisserie space at night, this is quite the Cinderella story.

I had dinner here last weekend and fell in love with not only the food, but the person behind it – Chef Khai. He came out to welcome and thank each table for coming, and then with every course he would come out and give an in depth description along with an explanation of his personal connection to the dish, which made the dining experience so enjoyable.

It was really amazing to see someone so humble and genuinely thankful to have diners there, a welcome change from the typical experience where servers are only worried about getting you in and out as quick as possible and no one you speak to really has a stake in the restaurant’s success.

Header photo credit: Michael Le

Khai Executive Chef and owner Khai Duong image 3

Chef Khai is not new to SF, In 2000 he opened Ana Mandara, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Ghiradelli Square. Ana Mandara was considered one of the top Vietnamese restaurants in San Francisco, but closed in 2012 due to rising rent costs for the space (unfortunately I made the move up to SF post-Ana Mandara so I wasn’t able to try it). For the few SF natives who haven’t been run out of the city themselves from high rent costs, Chef Khai has returned!

Fun Fact: after Ana Mandara closed, he moved to Vietnam and was the principal judge on Iron Chef: Vietnam

To keep costs down with this venture, Khai is renting out SoMa’s Bonjour Patisserie at night. Duong transforms the space at night into what he calls a “very elegant, intimate” atmosphere. “It’s like Cinderella,” he joked. “It’s a sharing economy, and restaurants are so expensive right now, so I cannot open by my own.” (Eater SF)

Khai dining room four top

Photo credit Michael Le

The space is very small and intimate – sits about 10-16 people, but this made the experience very personalized.

Perfect spot to come for a nice, special occasion meal, where you are looking to have a more personalized and intimate meal that stands out from the standard high-end dining experience.

What’s on the menu: fresh seaweed salad, wild matsutake mushroom pate, crab sausage, salmon ceviche, smoked beef tartate, baked butter fish (hands down the best cooked fish I’ve ever had, so good), crispy quail with garlic and mashed potato, rack of lamb, coconut rolls filled with Durian.

Open Tuesday – Saturday, 5:30 and 8:30 pm seatings. Need a reservation.


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