Everything You Need to Know About San Francisco’s Newest Chinese Food Emporium, China Live
If you have any connection to San Francisco, chances are you have heard about the opening of China Live. It’s San Francisco’s newest Chinese food emporium, and the opening has taken the city by storm. The operation is a huge, multi-faceted experience that people often refer to as the Chinese version of Mario Batali’s Eataly in NYC. It’s a bastion of food, fun and culture that San Franciscans have happily embraced.
What Is China Live?
A lot of big food halls get compared to Eataly. It’s the epitome of an all-in-one marketplace for fine dining, shopping and drinking. But China Live is probably the closest comparison you will find. It was developed to be an interactive culinary and cultural destination for locals and visitors in San Francisco. It provides an in-depth exploration of Chinese gastronomy, offers insight into Chinese ingredients and recipes, and education on the history and influence of Chinese culture across the world. It’s a great way to expand your horizons and go beyond the usual menu offerings.
What Can You Find at China Live?
China Live is more than just a restaurant or grocery store. It features a serious array of offerings that you can spend hours exploring. Here’s what you’ll find:
The Oolong Café is a 25-seat counter service cafe with a rotating selection of superb Chinese teas, coffee and small bites. It features a gorgeous Ming Dynasty-inspired mural that highlights lots of San Francisco landmarks and is the perfect place to stop for an elegant afternoon break.
The Market Restaurant on the first floor features a seasonal menu that changes every day to reflect the available ingredients and whims of the chefs. The main dining area features chairs and tables that were all handcrafted in China. Grab a seat at the bar to get a close-up view of the chefs preparing savory dishes.
Eight Tables by George Chen
When it opens, this restaurant will offer an unparalleled San Francisco fine dining experience. Their prix-fixe eight-course tasting menu will showcase George Chen's mastery of Chinese food.
The bar has a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, with an awesome array of tap beers, wines by the glass and signature cocktails. They offer Malaysian style cold brew coffee and custom Marin Kombucha.
Cold Drinks Bar
This is a sleek, secret bar located on the second floor of China Live. Beverage director Duggan McDonnel created this luxuriously intimate space with a focus on Scotch whiskey. Most cocktails feature a single malt and are served to you by elegant, tuxedoed bartenders.
The retail area of China Live is truly something to behold. It’s a majestic collection of unique flavors and experiences that you can take into your own home. You can find spices, teas, condiments, produce, cookware and cutlery – all of the highest quality. If you’re just here to browse, ask a guide to help you explore and learn more about the products and Chinese cooking.
888 Banquet and Event Space
China Live even has a banquet and event space for guests who would like to host a party. Space can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 825 people.
Are two bars not enough to fulfill your cocktail dreams? Two more bars, Gold Mountain Lounge, named after the previous dim sum restaurant that inhabited the space, and China Sky Bar will soon round out all the drinking options at this massive Chinese food (and drinking) hall.
Head to the Bar Central for a specialty cocktail, such as the French Concession, Sichuan Smash or (Not) All the Tea in China. At Market Restaurant, people love the Xiao long bao (soup dumpling), Taiwan red braised beef and tendon noodle soup, Sichuan “working hands” wonton in mala chili broth, and minced five-spice beef cheeks in lettuce cups. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try the Chrysanthemum salad with star fruit and tea vinaigrette or the Yangtze river grass-wrapped fried cod. At the marketplace, check out the soy sauces that include organic black bean soy sauce and white soya essence. They also offer jarred pickled sea beans and whiskey barrel-aged fish sauce.
How to Get There
China Live is located in the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco. To get there, you can take a taxi directly to 644 Broadway. You can also take BART to the Montgomery Street Station and walk from there, or transfer to the #8 Muni bus and depart at Columbus Ave and Kearny Street. It’s about a 35-minute drive from San Francisco International Airport.
While you’re in the area, there are plenty of other things you can see and do. Head toward the water to walk along the Embarcadero and see the historic Fisherman’s Wharf. You can get a great view of Coit Tower from there as well. If you have enough time, you can even hop on a boat to Alcatraz for a guided tour of the famous prison. You can head further into town to visit the Cable Car Museum or head north to visit North Beach, the historic Italian part of town that runs along the coastline. And, of course, you are in the heart of San Francisco's famed Chinatown.