Thursday, August 5, 2021

San Francisco restaurant operator horrified when the $72 fried rice dish he created as a joke became the only thing anyone wanted to order

SF Chronicle:

He expected that most people would see it and chuckle at the gall, then order the pho.


To really land a joke, you have to commit to it, so Lam did. He sourced premium red king crab claws from a Japanese supplier; caviar from the California Caviar company and Tsar Nicoulai. His beef was from a high-end ranch that fed its cattle on olives, granting their meat more umami flavor and healthier fatty acids. He studied the art of fried rice with friend and colleague James Yu, who produces ideally fluffy and crisp wok-seared fried rice at his restaurant, Great China, in Berkeley. Lam’s team picked the meat from king crabs, snow crabs and Dungeness crabs and used the shells to make a stock, which they turned into a concentrated, multispecies crab essence that was folded into butter. 


It didn’t help that they didn’t make any money on the fried rice with all of its premium, market-rate ingredients, or that customers would only order that and nothing else on the menu. The Lily team started sensing that their biggest draw was taking the business somewhere they didn’t want to go.