SFReview

photo credit: Erin Ng

Blue Whale image
7.9

Blue Whale

ChineseMalaysian

Cow Hollow

$$$$Perfect For:Outdoor/Patio SituationDrinking Good Cocktails
RESERVE A TABLE

POWERED BY

OpenTable logo
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

Included In

Being showy is in Blue Whale’s DNA. After all, it’s related to Empress By Boon, the majestic Chinatown fine dining restaurant with a $108 tasting menu and a dress code. At Blue Whale, curved royal blue booths beckon you never to leave, the patio is a multi-level destination bigger than the Cow Hollow apartments nearby, and sleek mirrors are backlit like ring lights. Blue Whale has no official dress code, but the dwellers of Union Street show up in slinky tops, tastefully unbuttoned button-downs, and more snakeskin than a reptile exhibit. They’re here to look hot and eat pretty food. 

While both restaurants share a chef and a sense of style, Blue Whale is billed as the “casual” counterpart to Empress By Boon. They have an a la carte menu of mostly Chinese one-biters, dim sum, and seafood entrées for sharing. But casual doesn’t mean skimp on presentation—there’s a clear effort at play. We can’t remember the last time we saw a papaya salad draped over a pile of crispy-skinned chicken like it’s Moira Rose’s prized wig, or a comical looking whole baked lobster with the head propped up like a cruise ship animal towel.

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Though nice to look at, every single dish isn’t a home run. The braised seafood noodles and Malaysian grilled snapper with shrimp paste are pleasant, but not enough to leave you dying to come back. That honor goes to the duck. The rule of thumb: if duck is involved, order it. Those dishes are the best on the menu. The crispy duck salad is zippy with pomelo bits, and the XO noodles crowned with roast duck should be on your table. 

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

For all this talk about Blue Whale being casual, the high prices cut deep, especially considering the small portions. One order of a passable lobster will run you $88, and the Iberíco ham xiao long bao is $22 for only three pieces. Expect to spend over $75 per person at dinner, including one drink. For less of a blow to your wallet, swing by the gleaming bar for a Chinese five-spice cocktail and pork buns, then be on your way. 

Blue Whale is Cow Hollow’s poster child for dinners where the food is slightly upstaged by the space, and that’s OK. You’ll still want to roll in for a birthday bash with multiple cocktail rounds, or a date night on one of the most impressive patios in town. Dust off your sexiest little top and be ready to eat a lot of duck, and you’ll have a great time.

Food Rundown

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Crispy Duck Salad

The antithesis of a boring restaurant salad, and one where half of it is meat. Every bite is packed with lightly fried bits of duck, pomegranate seeds, and crispy lotus root.

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Kurobuta Pork Bun

More like dessert than an appetizer, but we’re not complaining. Order these.

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Shanghai Xiao Long Bao—Crab

We like these better than the Iberico ham xiao long bao—they’re juicier and have funk and umami from the crab filling.

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Thai-Style Crispy Chicken

Finished with a high pile of papaya salad, this entrée is a sleeper hit. The sour-sweet papaya balances out the well-seasoned fried chicken.

Blue Whale image

photo credit: Erin Ng

XO Roasted Duck Thin Noodles

As mentioned above, order anything with duck for dinner success. These noodles are chewy and bouncy, and topped with roasted slices of skin-on duck we wish there was more of.

Braised Seafood Housemade Noodle

Borderline bland, despite being covered with a generous helping of prawns and scallops. Skip these.

Baked Lobster

There are better dishes to spend your money on.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store