Where to Find the Best Food in Chinatown

February 3, 2021
Food & Drink
jason wolfe

San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and most-established of its kind in the U.S. Thanks to its strong cultural presence, residents and visitors alike are treated to some of the best Chinese cuisine in the city. Bakers, bars, cocktail lounges, and more await you in this bustling area of San Francisco. While indoor and outdoor dining have both been temporarily put on pause, that doesn’t mean you can’t order a tray for delivery or pick-up. The next time you’re craving some delicious and authentic Chinese food in San Francisco, check out these 6 popular restaurants. 

Want to treat your loved ones to a fun and practical gift? Surprise them with a virtual GiftYa card! GiftYa cards can be applied to a number of different restaurants around the city, including the ones we featured below. Whether your loved one is in the mood for some fresh chicken rolls or a bowl of egg drop soup, they can quickly find both of these dishes and more in San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown. 

1. Hong Kong Clay Pot City Restaurant

Casual Chinese restaurant that serves some of the most authentic dishes in San Francisco

The Ginger Lobster is a popular dish at Hong Kong Clay Pot. Image courtesy of Yelp.

960 Grant Ave. | Chinatown | hongkongclaypot.top-cafes.com 

If you’re looking for a casual dining spot that serves fresh and delicious Chinese food, check out Hong Kong Clay Pot City Restaurant. This bustling Chinese restaurant offers a contemporary and laid back atmosphere for guests. Whether you want to catch up with friends or enjoy a quick family dinner, Hong Kong Clay Pot is suitable for almost any occasion. 

As for the food, you can find inventive dishes like the Soy Sauce Duck Tongues, Salt and Pepper Frog, and Spicy Jelly Fish on the menu. For people who don’t have an adventurous taste palette, Hong Kong also offers regular staples like Wonton Soup and Kung Pao Chicken. 

“Absolutely wonderful food. I love this place - it's upstairs, which gives it a great airy ambiance. The food is, of course, the main draw. The service is also kind and courteous. The clay pot and Singaporean noodles are delicious and come out sizzling. Flavors are strong, clean, and authentic and everything feels very healthy with a nice mix of protein and vegetables.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Hong Kong Clay Pot City Restaurant. 


2. China Live

Contemporary Chinese marketplace offering a wide selection of classic fare

Photo of China Live - San Francisco, CA, United States. Dongbei Vegetarian Long Pot Stickers
The Dongbei Vegetarian Long Pot Stickers make a great start to your multi-course dinner at China Live. Image courtesy of Yelp

644 Broadway | Russian Hill | chinalivesf.com

China Lives is another popular restaurant known for its signature dishes and friendly atmosphere. Savory pork dishes, fresh seafood, and rice bowls all await you at this popular restaurant. 

Like other restaurants in San Francisco, China Lives is only available for pick-up or take-out. But that doesn’t mean the quality of its food has suffered. Everything from the Butter Garlic Noodles to the Sweet & Sour Basil Glazed Pork Ribs is perfectly cooked for your pleasure. Beer, sake, wine, cocktails, and teas are also available for pick-up or delivery, giving you the ability to enjoy the full China Lives experience from the comfort of your own home. 

“The barbecue pork was so juicy and tender, which reminded me of some of the best barbecue pork I had in Hong Kong. When I visited the restaurant in person (pre pandemic), the server did tell me that the chefs at China Live emulate the same preparation method as a famous bbq pork restaurant in Hong Kong.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for China Live. 


3. VIP Coffee & Cake Shop

Bustling bakery offering a wide assortment of Asian and American snacks

Along with a full lunch and dinner menu, VIP offers a large selection of baked goods. Image courtesy of Yelp

671 Broadway | Chinatown 

Despite what the name implies, the VIP Coffee & Cake Shop offers more than just coffee and cakes. It actually features a wide selection of popular Hong Kong comfort foods. Wonton soup, baked pork chop, seafood spaghetti, and more are available at this bustling restaurant. Buns, cakes, and other delicious pastries await you once you finish your main dish. 

“I've been looking for a reliable place that sells full lemon roll cakes. I found it today here at VIP Coffee & Cake and am ECSTATIC! They have a nice bakery selection besides the actual restaurant and various types of rolls are set out in the case in their packaging on the bottom shelf. There's no pricing visible for the full rolls but the lemon one is $6.50 each. It's fresh, spongy, moist, and has a nice amount of lemony goodness in the spiral.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for VIP Coffee & Cake Shop. 

4. Dim Sum Bistro

Counter-service joint known for its delicious BBQ pork buns

Treat yourself to a savory Boke BBQ Pork Bun. Image courtesy of Yelp

675 Broadway St. | Chinatown | dimsum-bistro.com

If you’re looking for a fast and casual food joint to fill your cravings, head to Dim Sum Bistro. Located on Broadway Street, this popular dim sum restaurant serves up their meals counter-style to hungry guests. If you’re ordering for your family or roommates, the Dum Sum Bistro is a great choice if you’re looking for some place that serves inexpensive but high-quality food. Right now, the restaurant is offering one free dim sum dish for orders over $35. Dim Sum Bistro offers a pretty extensive menu. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself tempted to order from there on a semi-regular basis. 

“My faves are the big Taisan buns and the moist and garlicky steamed chive dumplings. As for the dipping sauce, I want my dipping sauce spicy so I just combine the vinegary soy sauce dipping with the chili sauce and boom! Yum yum altogether with my dimsums and dumplings. I could easily spend $50 dollars here and that's because I share my stash with colleagues at work.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Dim Sum Bistro. 

5. Hing Lung Meat Company

Popular restaurant that was voted one of the best places to eat by San Francisco Magazine

For $16, you can purchase a ½ a roast duck. You can also purchase a soya chicken rice plate for $16. Image courtesy of Yelp

1261 Stockton St. | Chinatown 

Voted one of the best places to eat by San Francisco Magazine in 2018, Hing Lung Meat Company is a top choice among residents for its signature Cantonese barbecue dishes. Their roast pigs, ducks, BBQ pork, and poached soy sauce chickens are all made starting the morning they are served. Only non-MSG ingredients are used as well. In addition to its main full-service restaurant, Hing Lung Meat Company also oversees its own butcher shop. Pork, poultry, and beef are all kept and sold there. 

“Just finished eating the honey bbq pork belly and the roasted duck and I want to fall asleep in a happy fatty meat coma. The pork belly was my favorite for sure! I really enjoyed the sauces both meats came with, but wish you could order buns and plum sauce or hoisin sauce with it as I think they would help balance the richness of the duck a bit. I would recommend ordering the garlic greens (or making your own side of veggies) to help lighten the meal a bit too.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Hing Lung Meat Company. 

6. Chong Qing Xiao Mian

Popular counter serve restaurant known for its spicy noodle dishes

The Guilin Rice Noodle Soup offers a fun and savory experience for diners. Image courtesy of Yelp

915 Kearny St. | Chinatown | abiteofchinaus.com

Chong Qing Xiao Mian also deserves recognition for serving some of the best Chinese cuisine in San Francisco. Spread across four different locations, Chong Qing Xiao Mian specializes in serving Sichuan cuisine. This popular cuisine style is known for its unique and spicy flavor. Some of its most popular dishes include the Shanghai Style Wine Chicken, Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs, and Dry Sauteed String Beans with Noodle Soup. While you're there, you can treat yourself to some special Chinese herbal tea or Taro milk tea. Fresh coconut pudding and mango pudding are available for dessert. 

“Chong Qing Xiao Mian has been my go-to noodle spot since the first day I stepped foot inside. I usually order in but have since ordered take-out due to the COVID situation. I'm confident to say that they're still the best for both dine-in AND take-out! The process for pick-up is fast and easy, food is always ready within 15 minutes for me.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Chong Qing Xiao Mian. 

As you can see, Chinatown is home to a rich and lively restaurant scene. What places do you plan to hit up next? Let us know in the comments!

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