From a young age, we’re taught proper table etiquette--from silverware specifics to the correct placement of drinking glasses and bread plates. But what if we told you there’s a restaurant in San Francisco where your hands are the utensils of choice?
At Michelin-starred chef James Syhabout’s second Hawker Fare location, you’re in for an authentic Thai street-food experience. No pad thai on the menu here. Inside, the restaurant resembles Thai night markets, with lights strung over oil-cloth-covered tables. The walls are adorned in traditional Thai floor mats, and dishes are served on plastic plates.
The following ground rules apply:
1) Meals are best enjoyed family-style in big groups.
2) Forget the silverware and eat solely with your hands.
3) Plan on double-dipping to take full advantage of the sauces.
4) Hold small chunks of sticky rice in the palm of your hand throughout the meal and use them as you would tortilla chips to chase the funk (courtesy of fish sauce and shrimp paste) of dishes such as Lao-style papaya salad and nam prik gapi vegetable dip.
5) Adventurous eating is encouraged: Try the laab kuom beefsteak tartare with tripe, shallots, toasted rice powder and beef bile.
6) Drinks are a must too: Signature whiskey sodas (mekhong Thai whiskey, seltzer, ice) and a couple of Singha beers are essential for washing down the spice.
Hawker Fare, 680 Valencia St.; 415-400-5699 or hawkerfare.com