On Wednesday, December 6, two of the Bay Area’s hottest pop-ups will join forces for a holiday-themed event. Hadeem and Four Kings, both of which launched this year and have since become wildly popular with diners in the know, will throw a one-night-only event they’re calling “Four Kings and Hadeem present: Christmas at Buddy.” Mission District bar Buddy will host the six-course dinner event centered on Jewish and Cantonese dishes. Hadeem chef Spencer Horovitz has wanted to explore and play with pairing the two cuisines, and now with Four Kings chefs Franky Ho and Mike Long, the idea is finally becoming a reality. “When the opportunity presented itself to collaborate, it was a no-brainer,” Long says. “The fact that Chinese food is so intertwined with Spencer’s family’s holiday tradition is a nice cherry on top.”
To prepare for the dinner, the two groups — including Ho and Long’s respective partners, Millie Boonkokua and Lucy Li — discussed memories of how they celebrated holidays growing up, landing on a decadent, seafood-laden menu, served family style. “It’s a little outside of the context of what we normally do for the pop-ups,” Horovitz says. “This is one that celebrates the overlap of shared family experiences and looking at ways of celebrating with people, regardless of where they come from, or what their backgrounds are.”
Together, the chefs are bringing their collective restaurant experience to the forefront. Horovitz previously worked at Itria and led the kitchen at Oakland’s Slug before starting Hadeem, while Ho and Long most recently worked at Mister Jiu’s. Ho also previously worked at Champa Garden and restaurants in China, and Long has done stints at both Bestia and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles. As such, don’t expect the typical, straightforward dishes for the holidays, but instead playful twists on familiar dishes from both cuisines. Early ideas for the menu include a scallion pancake knish with creme fraiche, smoked apple, and trout roe; shrimp toast-arayes; crab congee; and red-braised wagyu pastrami with marble rye bao, among other dishes and bites, the teams share.
The idea for the dinner was rooted in Horovitz’s time growing up in Los Angeles and eating at Chinese restaurants on Christmas. But the menu also folds in Ho, Long, Boonkokua, and Li’s childhood memories of holiday meals. “Christmas and the holiday season has never really been an innately ‘Chinese’ thing,” Long says. “But what is Chinese, and quite frankly universal to all cultures, is feasting. It’s one of the few occasions that our parents would not hold back on spending on the most luxurious food — lots of seafood and lots of excess. Hence our choice to ball out on caviar, crab, and whole fish for our menu.”
Pastry chef Michelle Fried also joins the pop-up dinner as a collaborator, after working with Horovitz at Hadeem pop-ups for the last few weeks. She brings experience most recently from Sons & Daughters, but also Eleven Madison Park and Saison. Horovitz is excited to have Fried “up our pastry game” while bringing her Jewish identity and perspective to the table, he says. With Fried helping with the dinner, Horovitz says they hope to do a babka bake sale the day of the dinner, featuring a char siu babka made for a Hadeem pop-up at Habibi Bar over the summer and a sweet babka option.
The dinner pairs two San Francisco pop-ups steeped in personal nostalgia and food memories as Four Kings slows down pop-up appearances in the ramp-up to the opening of a new restaurant in Chinatown. Horovitz says he feels lucky to be working with Four Kings at this stage of their story. “While it may be different cuisines, we are on a similar wavelength of the ethos behind the projects that we’re working on,” he says. “Doing this food that is inspired by our own personal experiences — that’s one of the deeper values that both of our pop-ups share. It exists in a more passionate place.”