A Chinatown eatery helmed by Chef Ho Chee Boon takes cues from its iconic predecessor.
Empress by Boon is located inside one of the tallest commercial buildings in Chinatown
It’s been more than seven years since 838 Grant Ave. has served something memorable, something special. What was once one of San Francisco’s most iconic Chinese restaurants, Empress of China, is now home to Empress by Boon, a contemporary take on the beloved spot, which is slated to open its doors mid-June.
The opening is equally anticipated by locals as it is by the genius behind it all—this will be the first eatery by Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon under his name and his direction. “I have been patiently waiting for the right opportunity to open the doors to my first restaurant, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we will offer guests,” says Boon, whose culinary career has taken him all over the world.
Chef Ho Chee Boon
The concept of Empress by Boon pays homage to the previous restaurant, which was hailed for nearly 50 years as the go-to Chinatown dining and event space, by taking its beloved cuisine and look and executing an original spin on both aspects.
The 7,500-square-foot space steers its focus toward modernism by offering diners more current Cantonese fare—rather than traditional—through a menu built with ingredients grown on the restaurant’s farm in Gilroy. Boon adds that the farm-to-table menu will feature “ingredients not typical to Chinese food, which will surprise and delight our guests.”
A bright color palette complements sleek design
One aspect that makes 838 Grant Ave. so iconic is the beautiful interior design and expansive views of San Francisco. “Our team was honored to take on the responsibility of restoring not only important original interior design details but the vital role the restaurant played in the community as a place to celebrate and gather with loved ones,” says Boon. “The restaurant features modern elements alongside repurposed features from Empress of China, including the intricately carved panels and the original wooden pergola positioned at the entrance.” Similar to the food, the design manages to honor the traditions of the previous spot while implementing an elegant modern take. 838 Grant Ave.