(74) Faux Shark Fin's Soup @ Benu

I'm a very determined person and I must complete all 100 items on this list, but this Faux Shark Fin's Soup was one of my main obstacles in achieving this goal because of it's high price. The Faux Shark Fin soup is exclusively offered as part of the 16 course chef's tasting menu, which costs $180, which after tax & tip [$180 + 17.55 (tax) + 39.51(20% tip)] is a whopping $237.06. For one meal! Even if I could afford to pay that much for one meal, I can not fathom a single circumstance or situation in which I would feel justified or comfortable shelling that kind of money out on one meal. So instead, I reached out to the folks at Benu, telling them about my blog, my goal, and that I simply could not afford their tasting menu but perhaps they would make a slight exception to allow me to order the Shark Fin's Soup a la carte. And to my surprise, they did! I couldn't believe it! And, it get's even better!!! Listen up - I walked in for my solo reservation, they took my coat, brought me to my table, and the sommelier, Bobby Conroy, poured me a flute of Champagne for the Jura region of France that tastes like crisp apples & meyer lemons (on the house!). Then, they brought out razor thin buckwheat lavash (Middle Eastern crisp flatbread) with toasted nori to nibble on, a healthy snack with a subtle spicy kick. Next they brought out a small ceramic floral pot with pumpkin tofu in pumpkin consomme with toasted pumpkin seeds (on the house, again!) - the tofu had the silky smooth texture and the seeds added a great textural crunch to the dish. Next, they brought out the Faux Shark Fin's Soup which consisted of dungeness crab, Jinhua ham, black truffle custard. The bottom of the bowl had an elogated depth to it that housed the rich black truffle custard, which was like an earthy creamy mushroom pudding. It had a nice light meaty broth made from the ham with tender briny morsels of crab. AND to pair with the soup, the somm brought out a 1968 Madeira Verdelho (on the house, aaaagain!!! wowie!) which was rich, sweet, and fortified port. The perfect pairing =  truffley + sweet! I wish it were socially acceptable to lick the bottoms of bowls because the truffle custard was so damn good. Next, they cleared my plates and brought out a fancy five-pronged fork. Confused, I asked, why five prongs? The server responded in saying that  it helps with the sauce....sauce for what? "our chef is sending out a small sweet treat for you to enjoy" Whaaaaaaaaaaat, I couldn't believe it, a dessert on the house too! Incredible. Absolutely incredible! The dessert was a thin sheet of camomile-tea infused sugar with pear custard, short bread graham cookie crumbles, frozen grapes, ice cream and mint. It was delicate and a little difficult to eat, but really decadent. And to top it all off, they brought me 4 kinds of truffles (dark chocolate + cognac, chocolate + fleur de sel, white chocolate, & milk chocolate) with the check - the check that only costs $18 for the soup. Unbelievable  So generous. I've never been so wined-and-dined in my LIFE. This was very very special/spoiled and I want to thank the lovely folks at Benu for providing such excellent service and for allowing me to order the soup a la carte, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kitchen @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Courtyard @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Champagne! @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson. 

Pumpkin tofu w/ pumpkin juice and toasted pumpkin seeds. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Faux Shark Fin Soup @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson. 
Faux Shark Fin's Soup @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Four-prong fork @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Dessert @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Truffle with the check @ Benu. Photo credit: Kendra Aronson.
Faux Shark Fin's Soup @ Benu ($18)
22 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Monday > closed
Tuesday - Thursday > 5 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday - Saturday > 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday > closed


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