China Live

4.5
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1264 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Chinese
"Restaurant of the Year" - EaterSF
Our first floor restaurant features a daily changing seasonal menu cooked from 8 specialized stations that merge traditional Chinese and Western culinary equipment. A main dining area plays centerpiece, appointed with chairs and tables all handcrafted in China from reclaimed Chinese elm. These exhibition kitchens, with plenty of bar seating, will allow you a more close-up view of the deft chefs in action.
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What 1264 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.3
service
4.4
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
84% of people would recommend it to a friend
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SF
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service3ambience5

China Live has a unique take on Asian cuisine...Eastern with a slight Western twist. Each of the dishes we ordered were just spectacular. Flavorful, balanced and singularly striking. The glazed pork ribs were so much better than the ribs I had at International Smoke just last week, that I felt I needed to point that out. I plan to return with more people so we could try more of the menu. This meal was just two of us getting through 7 dishes and having plenty of yummy leftovers.

The one negative was that we had reservations for 6:30 but didn't get seated until 7:05. I had requested a table but they were going to seat us at a counter. BTW, this isn't one of those establishments that will offer a special dessert for a birthday celebration.

RF
San Diego
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall1food1service2ambience5

Great atmosphere. Very expensive food for low quality. Bland. Server mentioned they are a “unique restaurant, not like others” — while that may be true, and they do have the ambiance down to a science, the food is just so plain!

j
New York Area
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall3food3service3ambience4

Sat near service entrance. Constantly bumped into by staff. Took forever to be greeted by waitress even after I was approached by manager. It’s as if no one knew I had been seated. Food was overpriced for what it was.

OT
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Suggestions for food from the staff was great. Along with a kindness of the chef to give the spring rolls. They were amazing! Worth it for amazing taste and experience.

M
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food and service were fantastic. Best Kung Pow ever. Desert Donut was awesome too.

JB
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall1food2service3ambience1

Much too loud and food was extremely bland. The best thing we had was the Dungeness crab spring rolls. The server was polite but not enough to make up for other shortcomings. I would not return or recommend.

t
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall4food5service5ambience5

I have been to China Live many times...the food is incredible...I love the ambiance....I have sent family and friends both from SF and visiting to China Live many many times....Its sad when a restaurant gets a bit of arrogance...I had a reservation but was held up...I called to let the restaurant know I would be late...Of course,no human being ever answers the phone...I arrived and checked in...Because of a back injury,I have to sit on a chair with a back and told the very rude front desk person...She answered..."youll be sitting at the counter and they have backs" ...I asked...The counter...I booked a table...Her response..."when you were late for your reservation you lost your table regardless if you called to tell us youd be late" If not for the incredible server,Angel< I would never ever return...Angel was an angel... I will return BUT if I EVER have to deal with the arrogance at the front reception desk....Theres LOTS of other great restaurants in SF...very sad when arrogance muddies the waters of a superlative restaurant

L
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Food is delicious but more on the higher end. This is more like $$$ (not $$) restaurant. The concept of the restaurant is modern and very hype. However i wish that they would do something special for a special occasion such as birthday. A little sweet treat with candle for the birthday person surely wouldn't hurt the restaurant. I asked but they said i have to buy the dessert myself. :(

MK
Central Coast
3 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience4

Felt like there was a mismatch between price and quality. The green beans and scallion pancakes were good. The pork rice bowl and eggplant claypot were mediocre.

OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

They were very kind and patient with our kids here!

MB
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Awesome concept and venue; equally delicious food!

MB
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall2food3service2ambience2

Leading up to our visit, their team was great and super helpful, but the experience was a bit of a letdown in person. We were a group of 15 people confined to their group dining menu. They insisted it would be enough food, but I didn't really think so. Should've definitely included more than one dumpling for each person. On top of that, the service wasn't great for our group. Our server was a bit rude when we asked him if we could sit at the long table instead of being split into two, and kept rushing us. His mannerisms were awkward in general. I've dined there before and would nonetheless recommend it, just maybe not for this kind of setup.

PM
Milwaukee
7 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience2

Great food and service but crowded and very loud.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Fantastic restaurant with Chinese cuisine superbly prepared. I am so glad I found this place! You will love the market and shop adjacent. Truly unique gifts.

JO
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Upscale Chinese - ordered virtually everything on the menu - from Peking Duck to veges - all was outstanding!

Noise level can be challenging, yet all the different dining options - either at a table or at a bar watching these amazing dishes get made - is fun.

And I LOVE shopping before and after - so many unique gifts... 10 percent off for diners much appreciated.

JF
Denver
1 review
Dined on November 7, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience5

I thought the overall experience was good, but there are better places to go in Chinatown.

PK
1 review
Dined on November 5, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

China Live was a fantastic choice for lunch. The xiao long bao were legit!

KP
Phoenix
35 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience4

Service was relatively slow, noting that a few tables were empty while we were there. Much of the food was good, but the $78 whole crab was nearly meatless, and one of our dishes never arrived. The two desserts we ordered were not good. The coconut donut was devoid of coconut flavor and the almond tart was similarly not reminiscent of almonds. The facility is quite pleasant, but the merchandise on sale in the storefront/entry seems to be a higher priority than the food.

OT
Puerto Vallarta
15 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

My 2nd meal at China Live. Loved everything.

g
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall2food1service2ambience3

Such a disappointment. We liked this place when it first opened— it was a fresh, attractive space with creative, clean food— a welcome respite from the crappy old Chinese places around town. But now it’s just a fresh, attractive space with way below par food and mediocre service. I might stop by to browse through their interesting (though overpriced) market items, but we’ll leave the dining to the tourists.

J
Atlantic City
3 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Vacation food great small plates

s
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Hostess took a long time (about 5 min) to greet us. Very lively, noisy atmosphere on a Friday night. Very good food and I had a fabulous mocktail. Quite pricy.

D
Miami
2 reviews
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience2

I am from Miami Beach and it is South Beach- young loud and clubby! Negative is the food and the seating. The starter of buns a ok but the duck for 27$ is a crime with only fatty peice of non edible duck what a shame! The wine s California can was poor at $57 a bottle must be a 3x markup. Finally the scallop dinner and the noodle dish with chicken and mushrooms was very good as well as the starter cocktails! Be warned reserving is a Must on the weekends!!

LL
Orange County
18 reviews
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Really great dim sum. Lived the soup dumplings

SF
Frankfurt Area
6 reviews
Dined on October 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Immer wieder gerne. Modernes Ambiente, aufmerksamer Service und gute Küche. Weinauswahl prima.

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AP
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2019
Overall4food5service2ambience3

Food is always great here but the service consistently is lacking. This is my 3rd time here and each time I’ve enjoyed the menu and drinks. Dessert is terrific. But it’s hard to enjoy when you’re waiting 20 minutes for a server to take your order or provide the check.

DL
New York Area
124 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

Good but very noisy and very expensive....I had peking duck for $23. which was 3 small buns with a little peking duck inside of each one with hoisin sauce - it was good but disappointing....I also had soup dumplings which were good but I left a bit hungry since the waitress thought I was ordering a sizeable amount of food which it was not....not sure I would return considering the wonderful other chinese restaurants in China town.

RP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 29, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience4

Nice food and good ambiance, but I wished it kept more traditional aspects of Chinese food. The fact that it’s located in the middle of China Town and not one single Chinese person was eating there says a lot.
Not good value for money.

ML
Hawaii
15 reviews
Dined on October 28, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Best dim sum, noodles, duck, the whole menu in town!
Great staff, wonderful environment, and I forgot about the drinks!!

Make it a point to get to China Live!

BC
Vancouver
2 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Delicious from begging to end. Great menu, seriously wonderful food.

L
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

The peking duck was divine - ditto the scallop & shrimp siu mai and the charred green beans.
The noise level is very irritating making it hard to hear the person across the table without leaning over the food and raising your voice - and this was AFTER our party of four moved to a cafe table in the front of the restaurant which was a little less noisy. Next time, I will ask for a table in the market” which now hosts diners as well.
Our server was very efficient and the French Chablis on the wine list was excellent with the food!

PB
Las Vegas
3 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Energetic vibe and fabulous food. Go with friends that you don't need to catch-up with, because having a conversation is next to impossible. But we go to eat, right? Second time here as an out-of-town visitor, and will always make time for China Live on any SF trip.

S
Phoenix
3 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely amazing dinner!!!!!

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AA
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall3food2service4ambience3

Service was good. Food was ok, but too much fat on the pork dish we had. Noise level is off the charts. Struggled to hear my companions.

SR
Atlanta
4 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great service and delicious food. Dishes feed multiple people, which was a great way for our boys (11 & 13) to try some different food.

F
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on October 24, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Anniversary

CC
Dallas
20 reviews
Dined on October 24, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Loved China Live. Traditional style Chinese quo’s one. The dim sum options were fantastic and so was the Kung Pao. Actually, everyone enjoyed their choices. Interesting bar selection and a host of good beer options. If I lived in the Bay Area, I would frequent.

I
San Francisco
115 reviews
Dined on October 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

A totally under appreciated gem at the intersection of North Beach and Chinatown, we loved everything we tried. The Hong Kong style noodles were top class and just the right level of oil. The bbq dishes are unique and fun. I love that they have unique specials on the menu, pretty way out stuff. The snobby foodies won’t go here but it was packed on a Wednesday night. For sure try the bar upstairs too which is a tranquil oasis in comparison. Be warned, it is almost impossible for a party of 4 to hear each other. The racket is deafening but that’s part of the vibe

AC
San Diego
18 reviews
Dined on October 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Fun place! Unique and vibrant. A little noisy but we were still able to converse. The food was delicious and different. We had the Peking Duck and charred Chinese broccoli. We weren't starving, so this was plenty for us and we left full and happy. Service on point. The waitress made some suggestions. Very interesting space with a pastry bar (we didn't indulge) and a shop that begins in the lobby and pours into the dining area. The place was packed on a Tuesday evening. We walked to it from our Union Square hotel. Would recommend for sure.

SY
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Superb food and service

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