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 all the “must-see” destination lists for visitors to San Francisco – and the excellent food, ambiance and unique gifts sold in the Marketplace will keep locals returning often.
One is instantly transported upon entering the doors of China Live. There are many dining and imbibing choices within the large complex: The Oolong Café is a 25-seat counter-service cafe offering Chinese teas, coffee and small bites. 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. 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 can enjoy the Cold Drinks Bar, a sleek bar overlooking Broadway Street offering 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 up to 825 people.
Hipster, vibrant Chinese elegance.
Everything. The Marketplace is met with awe for its sheer size and beautiful displays of unique food, kitchen items, and gifts. The food is so authentic and fresh; it’s surprising how each plate can be even better than the last. Menu highlights were Peking Duck with Kumquat Glaze, Traditional Condiments in Sesame Pockets; Sheng Jian Bao ‘SJB’ (pan-fried pork dumplings); and Shanghai ‘Fat’ Chow Mein 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. The open kitchen spaces keep the restaurant abuzz with activity, as you observe chefs preparing specialty dishes amidst your dinner conversation and fine dining. The award-winning interiors are the work of New York based, design firm AvroKo. – Marin Magazine (03.05.18)