George Chen’s 30,000-square-foot China Live officially opens at 5 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, March 1). Going forward, hours will be 5 p.m.-10 p.m. daily, with daytime service to follow sometime in the future.
In the waning hours before the launch, Chen and his team were putting the finishing touches on everything from lights and equipment to decorations and the opening menu.
As previously reported, the massive Chinatown restaurant and market complex takes inspiration from Eataly, New York’s Italian food complex.
The first floor of China Live (644 Broadway) will be the home of Oolong Café, Market Restaurant and Bar Central, and a retail market. The second and third floors are slated to open this spring with the fine dining restaurant Eight Tables, The Gold Mountain Lounge, a 40-seat bar, and a banquet and event space accommodating from 30 to 200 people.
While Chen was still tweaking the content and pricing of the 125-seat Market Restaurant menu on Tuesday morning, a few items are guaranteed to make tonight’s opening cut:
Sheng Jian Bao dumplings (“SJB”) traditional pan fried pork dumplings
Mapo tofu prepared tableside; meat or vegetarian options available
Three Cup Taiwanese chicken with basil and seasonal citrus confit
Chrysanthemum salad with star fruit vinegar and jellyfish
Macanese egg custard tart crème brûlée style
Stone oven-roasted duck prepared Peking-style with seasonal fruit glazes
We’ll update the menu as Chen finalizes the options. According to Eater, Chen said the check averages are going to be around $31 per person, or $20 to $30 for a full meal and a beer. Other dishes slated to be on the menu in the coming weeks are dumplings and dim sum; Chinese charcuterie and barbecue; cold salads and starters; noodles and rice bowls; fresh and live seafood; soups and tonics; wok and stir fry options; and desserts.
Chen said he spent a lot of time focusing on the small details of the cooking spaces like the charcuterie and barbecue station — an area surrounded by glass with both a newly converted stone oven for roasting ducks and an old ceramic oven. The kitchen has cast iron pans specifically for fired dishes like scallion cakes, pan-fried pork dumplings and pot stickers, all of which will eventually find their way to the menu.
On the beverage side, the 25-seat Oolong Cafe highlights “Eight Treasure” tea, a compilation of jasmine, dried jujubes, rose, lotus seeds, goji berry, chrysanthemum pearls and rock sugar. The early prices are said to be between $2.50 to $5 per cup. Some of the other tea varieties are Dong Ding – “Frozen Peak” High Mountain Oolong Tea, harvested from the 1700 meter elevation farms in Taiwan; Dragon Well Green Tea – Sourced from Westlake and Pan-roasted in Hangzhou, China; and Da Hong Pao – “Big Red Robe” which is oxidized tea grown in the Fujian province of southeastern China and most closely enjoyed like English tea as the birthplace of Black teas.
China Live’s retail space will spices, teas, condiments, produce, cookware, and cutlery. Chen vouches for the brands, saying “We use what we sell and we sell what we use.” Patrons will even be able to buy the plates from his soon-to-open fine dining restaurant, Eight Tables. All in all, the retail prices go from around $10 (noodles, rice) to more than a few hundred dollars (rare teas by the pound). – SF Gate Inside Scoop SF