China Live

4.5
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1390 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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Private Dining

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What 1390 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
4.5
food
4.3
service
4.4
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined a day ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great service, friendly staff, awesome square table for a party of 8 making it easy to hear everyone which I loved!! And amazing dumplings!!!!

BR
San Francisco
1 review
Dined a day ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Went for SF Restaurant Week this Sunday; it was my first time. Rest assured I will be back again and again. The food was delicious, particularly the Dim Sum items we ordered in addition to the fixed price SFRW menu. The dumplings - OMG!! Service was excellent, the room is beautiful and overall the experience was top notch.

OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience2

We had the dinner set. Food was great, but I wished the dim sum came out before the big plates rather than serving them as they come out. The place was very loud but expected in SF on a Saturday night.

b
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall4food5service3ambience5

It was a very busy day, so service was bit slow, but the food was great.

CM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Visited China Live for Lunar New Year. They were very busy as expected for such a holiday, so thankfully we had a reservation. Although the wait staff was noticeably busy our server, Julie, was still able to promptly take our order and answer all of our questions. She also was able to check in periodically to check if we needed anything which my partner and I really appreciated.

R
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall1food3service2ambience3

Service was horrible. We ordered two appetizers, two mains and tea. Our main dishes came out first and then the tea came out 40 minutes later only after I asked four different waiters. The appetizers came out a minute before the check. We sat here for close to an hour and a half before calling it quits. Horrible service - go to Z & Y or literally anyone else across the street or in Richmond.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall4food4service5ambience5

We’re celebrating the Chinese New Year eve dinner. In general, we enjoyed our dinner.

TC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience4

It was overall great experience, but it was very noisy if you sat at the table across from each other. Trying to have a light conversation was tough. We asked to be seated at the counter setup in front of the Dumpling station and it was much better since we were just two people. Was much better and the staff was extremely accommodating since was a busy Friday night.

R
San Francisco
48 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall4food4service3ambience4

This was my sixth time dining at China Live. We sat at the common table in front of the roasted meats kitchen, which provided better acoustics and my husband had an easier time hearing me than when we’ve been in the main dining area. The service was uneven. We ordered off the Restaurant Week menu and we got only one dish at a time, first my appetizer, then my husband’s appetizer, then my my main course, then my husband’s main course. We also ordered rice but it didn’t arrive with my main course. The tea came without explanation of how long to steep the tea and what to do with the strainer once the tea was steeped.

Service at all of my other visits was attentive. This time, not so much. But I’ll certainly come back — everyone is friendly, the food is superb, the vibe is energetic.

OT
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall4food5service3ambience4

So far every menu item I've had or tasted was fantastic. Definitely recommend the duck.

ND
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall4food3service1ambience4

Horrible service

OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Great as always

DC
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall4food4service3ambience3

Here for the first time for SF Restaurant Week and the food did not disappoint. It is certainly Chinese food elevated. Prices are also elevated from your everyday Chinese restaurant, but still in proportion to what you get in food and experience.

You are surrounded in the main dining room by the various open specialty kitchens for barbecue, steamed items, noodles, and main kitchen. There’s a separate dining room in a marketplace/gift shop, and another with street view. But the place is LOUD.

I was especially impressed with the SFRW menu’s value, selection, portion size, and it included wine or beer. Place was packed for a Thursday night, perhaps due to SFRW, and may have contributed to a slightly slower service.

H
San Francisco
153 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall2food2service2ambience5

3 rd time here food has fallen in quality ! Terrible noodles now ! Chicken terrible dry calimari ..
Over extended waiters not seeing their tables .. disappoints

OT
Mexico City
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall1food2service1ambience3

I’m a local and I’ve been to China Live since it’s opening. Very bad service, we arrived 15 min earlier to our reservation and we had to wait 45 min after our reservation time. The host kept giving tables to parties that arrived later than us and of the same size. Food quality and service have significantly decreased in the las year.

This is the type of places that decreased their food and service quality because of their popularity. It is a shame because it used to be good

a
San Francisco
29 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall4food4service3ambience4

We went for restaurant week but ordered off the menu instead. Delicious bites. We'll go back to try more things!

WG
Seattle
23 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall3food3service5ambience2

Would have been a decent place for a business dinner weren't for the loud ambiance - almost lost my voice from talking loud to be heard. Food is good but too upscale for my taste, as I prefer hole in the wall Chinese restaurants.

S
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Vibrant, great Asian food, an easy place to eat alone and not stand out.

OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall1food1service1ambience1

Terrible service and horribly bland food

R
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall3food3service4ambience3

We were underwhelmed. They first offered us seats in the center of a shared table where we would have had to shout to be heard. Fortunately a table was available and they moved us there. We ordered the scallion bread, which is like a sweet roll and not what we wanted for dinner. We ordered the peking duck which is actually like sliders. Duck was very tasty but mini-sandwich presentation was disappointing. We also had the charred broccoli, which lacked flavor.

RR
San Francisco
85 reviews
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Service was exceptional! Food terrific. Noise level off the charts.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall3food3service4ambience5

Sesame ice cream was disappointing actually no sesame taste
They changed the recipe

OT
New England
1 review
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall5food5service3ambience3

MNagement person was degrading one of the chefs in front of us at the noodle station which really disappointed me in how that poor would was being treated. Dignity matters and this female manager was a prime example of a poor boss.

OT
Phoenix
52 reviews
Dined on January 20, 2020
Overall3food3service4ambience2

Overpriced for ordinary cuisine. Many better Chines or Asian restaurants in San Francisco. It’s new. It’s yuppy.
It’s for those that want Americanized Chinese food. We would not return.

KH
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2020
Overall1food2service1ambience1

Horrible experience.

We dined on a Sunday evening and sat at the chefs counter.

We ordered six small plates, to be portioned out for our meal. ALL food came out immediately after ordering, before our cocktails even arrived. It took about 5 minutes for our entire order to be served immediately after the order was taken. We asked the waiter to slow down the kitchen so we may enjoy our first course on it’s own. While she said she’d alerted the kitchen the rest of our order was served seconds later (it was too late).

When our cocktails arrived, 20 minutes after ordering them, they were horrible! I’m not exaggerating on the time here - it was ridiculous. The Mai Tai was super sweet, like made-for-tourist cocktails in Hawaii.

We felt incredibly rushed by the staff. The waiter came over and apologized for the insane speed of the food delivery, but rather than actually apologizing, she threw the kitchen staff under the bus and blamed them.

The food itself was lackluster and not very good. We ordered:
- Ribs (Half Slab) - these were fine. Nothing great, just fine.
- Dungeness Crab Hand Rolls - Couldn’t taste the crab and they were greasy and cold
- Siu Mai - There was an odd taste, like something rancid, to them. They were also cold.
- Peking Duck Pockets - They were okay. More like a mini-sandwich
- Pork Belly Cubes - Too chewy to eat. And it came with a pile of plain old sugar to dip it in... ew.
- Twin Radish - Delicious

All the food was very “americanized” and most hot items were room temperature or cold. Later at night we were both drinking tons of water because something in the meal made us horribly thirsty.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend and won’t return. There’s MANY other options in SF, go somewhere else.

OT
Indiana
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was fantastic, great atmosphere and really cool drinks.

KI
Austin
3 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

The dumplings are amazing. We enjoyed everything we tried.

MC
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2020
Overall3food3service2ambience4

I believe it is a new restaurant and there are kinks to work out ... Service was spotty and it was extremely loud and hard to talk

g
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Amazing everything ..food ambiance and waiter but

Pastry could have been tastier and presentation was weak

HP
Chicago
21 reviews
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Food is always fantastic. A little pricey but top quality. We always try to eat here when in San Fran. Nice for larger groups

T
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience2

Love this place!

LR
San Francisco
35 reviews
Dined on January 15, 2020
Overall2food2service3ambience3

We used to love China Live. We went back a couple weeks ago and had a very mediocre experience but weren't willing to give up, so we went back 2 more times to confirm our findings. We've decided we're probably not going back anytime soon. The food was very mediocre or just plain bad, and clearly prepared far in advance. Everything tasted super sugary even appetizers and entrees. I at first questioned my palate thinking I needed to drink water to clear any previous tastes but even after "cleansing" my palate, the food tasted like sugar and tasteless--if you can envision that. Our calamari was served pretty much immediately after we ordered, which seemed odd--it wasn't even tepid, but cold . Same for our wok fried noodles--cold and tasteless. We tried adding soy sauce and chili but it was really inedible. I was embarrassed because I had been making such a big deal of how much we loved the restaurant to our friend.I cold go on about each individual dish, but the bottom line is nothing was special and most of it was bad.

The cocktails were terrible, too. Very weak and very sweet. Service was good one out of the three times, but the other two were indifferent and dismissive. So disappointing!

SM
Orange County
2 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2020
Overall4food5service3ambience4

One of the best Chinese restaurants I have been to, came here for a business meeting, will certainly go again. The food was great but portions were small, we had to order additional entrees, post round 1. The food came in waves and the portions were smaller than one would predict from the menu. Overall a great place to be at.

CA
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2020
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Pretty decent Chinese food, though aimed more at visitors to Chinatown. Portions were adequate for our party of four, didn’t wait too long for dishes to arrive. Prices are moderately high but I suppose somebody’s got to help pay the rent 😳.

e
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Our server was quick to greet us and take our drink orders. He was very patient as we were all trying to catch up with each other rather than focusing on ordering. The food- and we had a lot of it- was outstanding. The energy and vibe are terrific.

d
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Bailey and the staff were greatto work with, and accommodated our large engagement party without any hiccups or problems. Thank you again for a special night!

NT
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This was my second visit and it was so good! All of the appetizers were phenomenal... especially the two varieties of dumplings we had!! If you're looking for a nice dinner out with tasty cocktails this is the place

OT
1 review
Dined on January 9, 2020
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Food was great.

S
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on January 7, 2020
Overall2food3service1ambience4

Large party of girls Celebrating a birthday. Experience was completely tainted by our snarky waiter and multiple rude comments. Very disappointing

BE
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2020
Overall2food2service4ambience3

Food was alright!! Way over priced!! Some item on the menu was average Chinese food but prices where way over price for basic Chinese!!

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