Hey, Big Spender

Eating affordably at a splurge restaurant

Hakkasan is built to impress.

From its V-shaped bar, which glows vivid blue, to the intricate latticework that frames walls and windows, the San Francisco branch of this international chain is gunning for the executive-steakhouse crowd.

As the prices and ubiquitous Champagne buckets attest. Although many of the restaurant's entrées fall in the $30-to-40 range, it's also possible, with careful ordering, to enjoy chef Ho Chee Boon's thoughtful Cantonese cooking for just $75 a person.

His kitchen's precision is on display in appetizers like the lettuce wraps ($9), their mushroom-pistachio filling served in a lotus-leaf bowl, and delicately seasoned vegetable dishes such as a stir-fry of water chestnuts, snap peas and cloud ear mushrooms ($12). Contrast comes in the form of zaftig spicy prawns ($21) floating on a pool of flashy, piquant curry.

Wok "breath" tinges the restaurant's signature Hakka noodles ($12)–skinny wheat noodles tossed with mushrooms and chives–with a welcome note of fire and smoke. 

Stick to only one Smoky Negroni ($15) and you can splurge on the crispy duck salad ($28), a haze of frilly greens in which are suspended pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and shreds of tender duck with wok-crisped edges.

Impressive.

Hakkasan, One Kearny St., second floor (at Market St.); 415-829-8148 or hakkasan.com/sanfrancisco