Voted Restaurant of the Year by EATERSF in 2017, China Live is billed as an interactive culinary and cultural destination in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown. With veteran restaurateur George Chen (Betelnut) and his partner Cindy Wong-Chen at the helm, this $20 million, 30,000-square-foot Chinese food emporium has been compared to Mario Batali’s Eataly complex in NYC. This will most definitely land on many must-visit lists for visitors to San Francisco — and the excellent food, ambiance and unique gifts sold in the marketplace will keep locals returning often.
Beyond all the delicious food, China Live is also committed to being a good neighbor. It is involved primarily with three local charities favored by Chen: Chinatown Community Development Center, which works to build community and enhance the quality of life for San Francisco residents; Chinatown Community Children’s Center, which provides early education and other social services for new immigrant and bilingual/bicultural families in San Francisco; and On Lok, which strives to improve the quality of life and quality of care for older adults and their families. By dining at China Live, patrons can help generate revenues that benefit these and other local charitable organizations — $60,000 has already been raised.
The experience begins immediately upon entering the doors of China Live. There are many dining and imbibing choices within the large complex: The Market Restaurant is a 120-seat, full-service restaurant with a daily seasonal menu of dim sum, Chinese barbecue, salads, noodles, rice bowls, seafood, soup, stir-fry and dessert. The Oolong Cafe is a 25-seat counter-service cafe offering Chinese teas, coffee and small bites. Bar Central has a wide selection of drinks, including cocktails, wine, beer, custom Marin Kombucha and non-alcoholic beverages. Marketplace is the retail area of China Live and offers a well-curated array of spices, teas, cookware, cutlery and gift items.
Upstairs on the second floor visitors will enjoy the Cold Drinks Bar, a sleek bar overlooking Broadway that offers drinks with a focus on Scotch whiskey, served by tuxedo-clad bartenders. Eight Tables is the elegant dining space for a prix-fixe eight-course tasting menu overseen daily by owner George Chen. The Gold Mountain Lounge is a private dining/lounge space. There are also banquet and event rooms available for private parties with space for up to 825 people.
Hipster, vibrant, Chinese-style elegance
The Marketplace invites awe for its sheer size and beautiful displays of unique food, kitchen items and gifts. The food is authentic and fresh. Menu highlights include Peking Duck with kumquat glaze, Sheng Jian Bao ‘SJB’ (pan-fried pork dumplings), and Shanghai ‘Fat’ Chow Mein with pork, shrimp, chicken and seasonal vegetables.
Regardless of where you are seated — in the middle of the room at an intimate table for two, at a shared community table or at the bar watching the chefs — the ambiance makes you feel like you are a part of something lively and special.
644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA, 94133
This article originally appeared on the Marin Magazine website.
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Kirstie A. Martinelli works at San Domenico School and is a freelance restaurant and live entertainment blogger in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the social media consultant for several local restaurants. Kirstie always has her eye on the next new chef or food trend in the Bay Area to share with locals. She has a keen appreciation for all the hard work and dedication that restaurant owners, chefs, and staff put into making gastronomic magic happen night after night! Kirstie is dedicated to helping children with learning differences via Beyond Differences.