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Szechuan Cuisine
Photograph: Yelp/Greg G

The best Chinese restaurants in San Francisco

For exceptional dim sum and regional specialties, check out our favorite Chinese restaurants in San Francisco

By Jen Woo

With the highest percentage of Chinese residents of any major city in the country, there’s no shortage of delicious Chinese restaurants in San Francisco ranging from dim sum to hand-pulled noodles and bakeries to fine dining. Whether it’s Szechuan, Cantonese, Hunan, or fusion-cuisine you’re seeking, San Francisco’s Chinese restaurants have got it all and more. And just one note: There are outstanding Chinese restaurants scattered all over town, from Downtown to the Richmond, so don't be afraid to venture outside of Chinatown. 

RECOMMENDED: The full guide to Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinese restaurants in San Francisco

1. R&G Lounge

Restaurants Chinese Chinatown

This three-level restaurant is teeming with all kinds of delicious Cantonese fare, but is best known for a single dish: the salt and pepper, deep-fried Dungeness crab (battered and deep-fried legs and claws with tender morsels of crab meat, seasoned with a secret salt and pepper sauce and served with the carapace for effect). In addition to their iconic dish, try the special R&G beef, lobster sticky rice, and oxtail, seafood or vegetable clay pots.

Tea smoked eel at Mission Chinese
Photograph: Yelp/Michelle T.

2. Mission Chinese Food

Restaurants Chinese Mission Dolores

A San Francisco staple, Mission Chinese gives traditional Chinese fare a modern twist with dishes like lamb and squid ink pappardelle, tiki pork belly, and thrice-cooked bacon with rice cakes. There are some classics on the menu—pork or mushroom mapo tofu and steamed market greens, for example—but you can't go wrong with anything from this Mission gem. Be warned though, it will be spicy! 

Tom Yum bao at Dumpling Time
Photograph: Michael Ogata/Dumpling Time

3. Dumpling Time

Restaurants Contemporary Asian SoMa

Though Dumpling Time serves more than just Chinese food, it's best known for delicious bao, siu mai, har gow, xiao long bao, shrimp toast, steamed pork ribs, and noodles. Order several things from the menu, dim-sum–style, and wash it all down with either an Asian or local beer, before ordering some sweet buns for dessert. 

Mister Jiu's
Photograph: Yelp/Grace C.

4. Mister Jiu's

Restaurants Chinese Chinatown

This is not your typical Chinese restaurant experience. Step into the Michelin-starred eatery of SF native chef Brandon Jew and you'll be met with a modern, airy space trimmed in emerald and charcoal with gilded lotus chandeliers hanging overhead. Nosh on tea-smoked Liberty farm duck, 90-day dry-aged ribeye pepper steak, and pork potstickers with butternut squash. For dessert, Jew takes on classic bakery items with a twist like brûleed dan tat (egg custard tart) and jian dui (fried sesame balls).

Szechuan Cuisine
Photograph: Yelp/Greg G

5. Szechuan Cuisine

Restaurants Chinese Outer Sunset

Spice lovers, don’t miss Szechuan Cuisine, where tongue-tingling dishes comes at very affordable prices. For $6, you can get authentic dan dan noodles, swathed in sesame paste, soy sauce, chilis and other spices with meat. Also on the menu: spicy fried Chinese cabbage, braised pork belly with rice, yibin noodles, and mapo tofu.

San Tung
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Dean C. 

6. San Tung

Restaurants Chinese Inner Sunset

This establishment is known for one dish: the dry fried chicken wings. People start lining up before the restaurant opens at 5pm just to get their fingers on San Tung’s crispy, sticky, fried chicken that’s both sweet and salty with a bit of spice from fried red peppers.

House of Pancakes
Photograph: Yelp/Dion L

7. House of Pancakes

Restaurants Parkside

IHOP, it ain’t. This no-frills Outer Sunset cafe serves chewy, flavorful Asian-inspired pancakes in a dozen varieties. The savory, flaky scallion-and-sesame pancakes are served both flat and rolled up with scrambled eggs or thinly sliced beef and oyster sauce.

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Todd Lappin

8. Shanghai Dumpling King

Restaurants Dim sum Outer Richmond

Shanghai Dumpling King's OG Outer Richmond location may be gone, but the restaurant's array of delicious dumplings—including xiao long bao, Hug Zhou crab and pork, and spicy chives and shrimp as well as pan-fried pork buns—and noodles are still available at their Outer Mission spot. Plus, they now accept credit cards.

Hong Kong Lounge II, one of the best restaurants in San Francisco
Photograph: Courtesy Hong Kong Lounge II

9. Hong Kong Lounge II

Restaurants Seafood Laurel Heights

Dim Sum heaven by day, Hong Kong-style bites by night, the second Hong Kong Lounge located in the Inner Richmond will cure your craving for quality Chinese food. Their extensive dumpling menu includes crowd pleasers like crispy fried seafood and more traditional options like steamed chicken feet. At dinner, dig into classics done right like imperial Peking duck with hoisin and fresh scallions or country style fried rice with bacon and taro and keep an eye out for some of their best daytime dim sum offerings under the label “Asian Tapas.”

Photograph: Courtesy Hakkasan

10. Hakkasan

Restaurants Chinese Tenderloin

You don’t need to spend a lot of money for good Chinese food, but if you want a fine dining experience, Hakkasan delivers with authentic fare and craft cocktails. The menu is eclectic and dishes range from pumpkin puffs to dim sum and momo duck to grilled sea bass. For dessert, get the black sesame dumpling dessert, a classic Chinese sweet. 

Hong Kong Clay Pot Restaurant
Photograph: Yelp/Terry P

11. Hong Kong Clay Pot Restaurant

Restaurants Chinese Chinatown

Walk down Grant Avenue and look for a narrow flight of stairs. There may or may not be signage for the right restaurant, but we promise this traditional Chinese restaurant is indeed there, serving up as-close-as-they-come authentic Hong Kong-style clay pots. Try the oxtail, duck, black sea bass (with bones), or eggplant clay pots, with dried scallop noodles and snow pea sprouts.

Good Mong Kok Bakery
Photograph: Yelp/Kath H

12. Good Mong Kok Bakery

Restaurants Dim sum Chinatown

For authentic Chinese pastries at cheap prices, this is your go-to spot. It may not look like much (there’s no seating and the staff don't speak much English), but the place is teeming with fresh dim sum delights. You’ll find soft char siu baos (steamed barbecue pork buns) with sweet, meaty filling, and equally satisfying har gaw, siu mai, and more. They’re big, flavorful and incredibly affordable at around $2.50 for three pieces. 

China Live
Photograph: Virginia Miller

13. China Live

Restaurants Chinese Russian Hill

This 30,000 square-foot complex houses a central restaurant with traditional fare, a grab-and-go bar, a retail store, and a tea lounge. Upstairs, sits the beautiful, minimalist and modern Eight Tables with a decadent tasting menu. Embodying si fang cai (private chateau cuisine), the space is set up to feel as if you’ve been invited over to a friend’s home for a special meal. The ever changing menu displays a sampling of upscale Chinese flavors like the four seas caviar dumpling with trout roe, bay scallop and sea urchin; barbeque shao kao with kaluga on Peking duck, and char siu; and braised pork belly with sea cucumber.


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