Restaurant: The Chairman
Location: 670 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States
Price Range: $
While I was in SF, I had 1-2 days where I essentially had no “touristy” plan so I decided to explore downtown SF and J-Town on my own. While I was at Westfield San Francisco mall, I remember my sister said there is supposedly a very famous and great food truck called the Chairman, so I was on the mission to find it! Unfortunately on that day, the food truck was approximately 45 mins of public transportation from where I was, so I decided to go to their brick-and-mortar store which was only 15 mins walk away.
So….. to go to the Chairman’s store, I walked through the Tenderloin area which is known as one of the most dangerous area in San Francisco. Seriously, it was the first time in my life where I was so scared and thought I was going to get shot, but I was hungry and didn’t want the generic food court food… #theThingsiDoForFood. Therefore, either go to the food truck one or take public transportation to their store, or you can be like me and just #YOLO.
Anyhow I turned a 15 min walks into 5 mins of speed walking and made it to the Chairman without getting shot, yay. The store is a lovely little space with very stylish and modern decor. There are just a few seatings with the long bar tables on the side. Staff was really friendly and I’m sure she thought there was something wrong with me, since I was sweating like crazy from my speed walking.
The price isn’t too bad and quite cheaper from Toronto tbh. I also heard there are more items in the store compare to their food truck, make sense because of space limitation in the latter. From Yelp reviews, it seems the bao is the most popular item, but I decided to try the rice bowl since my sister raved about it.
I ordered the pink guava soda with no expectation and it was pretty dam tasty! The soda had a nice balance of sweet and sour, a flavorful and refreshing drink with a hint of toasted (!) coriander that gave a nice kick.
The portion here was really generous and there was a good amount of toppings to rice. The pork belly had a melt in your mouth texture, crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. The pickled daikon is similar to the ones that come with Jajangmyeon (Korean black bean paste noodle) so it added some tartness and along with fresh daikon sprout, it helped to cut down the fatty pork belly. With every bites you are getting some crunch from the tempura flakes and furikake, which I thoroughly enjoyed with the earthy marinated mushrooms! The Chairman rice was essentially rice with cooked beans and some spices, however it was definitely worth the upgrade and added an extra boost of flavor to the rice bowl, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this without the chairman rice.
So was it worth it? Absolutely yes! The moment I started eating, I completely forgot about the hardship and the fact that I walked through the ghettoes area of San Fran. From pictures the baos looked to be quite small, so if you want something filling, get the bowls. There were lots of flavors and textures going on in the bowl and all the ingredients mixed together harmoniously! Never questions the Chairman. #HailChairman.