Tommy Toy's Cuisine Chinoise
Nearly every celebrity who visits San Francisco drops by this popular restaurant, still beautiful and busy after nearly 18 years. Indeed, as you walk in, it’s as if you are entering an Asian museum. Tommy Toy's is a special occasion restaurant for fine dining. At lunch, it’s perfect for taking care of high profile business deals and impressing important clients or cherished employees. Most regulars refuse a menu and many newcomers let the helpful waitstaff make suggestions or order for them.
Tommy’s Signature Dinner ($57.50 per person) features six courses as varied as they are delicious. The starting dish is an elaborate fish soup – Seafood Bisque simmered in fresh coconut and crowned with mouth-watering puff pastry. It was delicate and the coconut added a nice touch. Minced Squab Imperial followed. Wrapped in a giant, crispy lettuce leaf, it is eaten like a taco. It was my favorite! Next, we were served fresh whole Maine Lobster, shelled and sautéed with fresh mushrooms, young chives and light peppercorn sauce served on a bed of Chinese angel-hair crystal noodles. That alone would have made my evening, but I had been told to come to the restaurant hungry because there would be a lot of food, with generous sized portions. Yes, my friends were certainly right!
After a perfectly timed interlude, our Peking Duck arrived, complemented by lotus buns. we were advised to eat it “like a burger.” The duck had very little fat, with crispy, crunchy skin, just the way we like them…firm, satisfying flavor complete with luscious pink meat. The Wok-charred Medallions of Beef were tender enough to cut with a fork, and served with garlic, wine and a touch of rosemary. It was perfectly prepared and beautifully presented, accompanied by a side dish of Four Flavors Fried Rice, which is a quartet of rice flavors decorated with green asparagus.
Throughout the evening, an army of waiters in black tie marched through the rooms making sure that everyone had what they needed, when they needed it. The interval between courses was short, but it gave us enough time so that we were easily able to digest and enjoy the perfectly rendered dinner. We were offered a hot, moist Turkish towel just after being seated, and more towels between courses.
Finally, for dessert, our gracious waiter served a guilt-inducing Peach Mousse with fresh strawberry compote. That, and a cup of hot Chinese tea were the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
The atmosphere in the evening is opulent. Tommy’s personal collection of original Chinese fans lines the walls. Furnishings include rosewood chairs deeply upholstered in a fine striped fabric, 300-year old tapestries inlaid with hand-silvered mirrors, and dazzling brass chandeliers that lend a hint of romance. The expensive displays of original Chinese antiques are striking in a discreetly elegant but obvious manner. Powdered paintings framed in fragrant sandalwood, etched glass panels, carved rosewood archways, silk draperies, ancient vases, precious pottery, delicate carved-wood sculptures and tables set with heavy linen and silver and lit with delicate porcelain bridal lamps complete the decor. The lighting is lowered at dinner and raised at lunch, which lends a more business-like atmosphere during the mid-day repast.
With the atmosphere just right, the service superb, the food beautifully presented and tasting even better than it looked, we knew, without a doubt, that we would return to Tommy Toy's again and again.
Open for lunch Monday through Friday; dinner seven nights a week. 655 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, (directly across the street from the Transamerica Pyramid), 415-397-4888, www.tommytoys.com. Reservations Required. Coat and tie recommended.
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