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A spread of dishes at Mamahuhu
Mamahuhu is just one of the storied Chinese restaurants to try in San Francisco.
Patricia Chang

15 Scintillating Chinese Restaurants in San Francisco

The best soup dumplings, Cantonese barbecue, and hand-pulled noodles across San Francisco

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Mamahuhu is just one of the storied Chinese restaurants to try in San Francisco.
| Patricia Chang

There are so many regions and styles of cuisine throughout China that it’ll make your head spin. And there are restaurants across all 48 hills that prove that point a million times over. There’s Northern Chinese cuisine at Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant and Beijing-style fare at the aptly named Beijing Restaurant in the Excelsior. Visit any of these 15 restaurants for just a taste of what makes Chinese cooking a various, wonderful experience.

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Hakka Restaurant 客家山莊

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Often described as a kind of soulful cousin to Cantonese food, the cuisine of China’s migratory Hakka people abounds with pickled vegetables and slow-cooked meats. This homey Outer Richmond restaurant is a great place to get hooked on these rustic, comforting flavors. Must-order dishes include salt-baked chicken, clams stir-fried with basil, and braised pork belly with shrimp paste.

The outside of a restaurant.
Hakka Restaurant doesn’t mess around when it comes to braised pork belly.
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Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant 老北京

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On cold nights prior to the pandemic, many of the regulars who’d crowd the small, scruffy dining room at Old Mandarin Islamic would order one of the spicy Beijing-style hot pots. In general, the restaurant, which specializes in Chinese Muslim cuisine, is a great place to feast on lamb — stir-fried with cumin, braised, or boiled in a clay pot. Chile-heads will want to test their endurance against the side dish/condiment known as la si ni, or “spice you to death.”

A photo of food. Patricia Chang

Terra Cotta Warrior 老家陕西

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Head to this Outer Sunset gem for Shaanxi cuisine, which many Americans became acquainted with thanks to Xian Famous Foods in New York. The menu’s highlights include lots of lamb dishes; stretchy, semi-translucent cold noodles (or mian pi); and the meat-stuffed sandwiches known as rou jia mo, or “Chinese burgers.”

Yuanbao Jiaozi 元寶餃子

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A perennial Sunset favorite, this dumpling shop on Irving Street has often held an “if you know you know” reputation. No longer, as the popularity of expertly-made xiao long bao has exploded into the public arena. It was only a matter of time before legions arrived for a seat at this simple shop. Try the beef noodle soup if an array of dumplings won’t suffice.

House of Pancakes 餡餅之家

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This no-frills northern Chinese spot in Parkside specializes in flaky scallion- and sesame seed-flecked pancakes, often rolled up with thinly sliced beef or scrambled eggs. It’s a carb-fest here: the dumplings and hand-pulled noodles are also pretty great.

Sichuan Home

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Head to this Geary Street restaurant for, as the name indicates, Sichuan cuisine including the red-tinged Chef’s Special Fish Stew that’s heated tableside and lamb chops encrusted in cumin. Those with an affection for offal can try pan-fried pig intestine, tripe in red chile sauce, and spicy pig brain.

Beijing Restaurant 北京小館

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How lucky is San Francisco to have a Beijing restaurant whose whole reason for being isn’t its duck? Instead, regulars at this Excelsior mainstay mostly come for the kitchen’s northern Chinese dough-based dishes: chewy hand-made noodles; big, Beijing-style crepes and pancakes; and little stir-fried flour balls.

Blue Whale Restaurant & Lounge

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Blue Whale’s long entrance hall belies a lavish and luxe interior, with phenomenal fare to match. From chef Ho Chee Boon, the mind behind the reborn Empress by Boon, this restaurant is ideal for first dates, family get-togethers, and a well-made cocktail after work. The food isn’t just Chinese as Boon pulls from myriad origins for his menu, but dishes such as the crab Shanghai xiao long bao and dried scallop and peanut rice ensure it’s a must-visit for fans of Chinese cuisine.

Rojak at Blue Whale Blue Whale

Mamahuhu 馬馬虎虎

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Chef Brandon Jew’s most casual and accessible restaurant yet is this counter-service operation in the Inner Richmond that specializes in Chinese American takeout classics: sweet-and-sour chicken, beef and broccoli, and egg rolls. Every dish is made with well-sourced ingredients, abundant vegetables, and precise Chinese technique — which means that chicken, for instance, isn’t cloyingly sweet and has a satisfying crunch.

Gourmet Carousel

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After closing in July 2022, the longtime Pacific Heights Chinese restaurant Gourmet Carousel reopened in April 2023 under slightly new owners. At the helm: the children of original owners BoHing Ko and his wife Sai Ko who ran the restaurant for nearly four decades. The business is back for both lunch and dinner offering dishes including Hakka chicken soup, honey walnut shrimp, and Singapore-style fried rice noodles for dine-in and takeout.

Dianne de Guzman

HK Lounge Bistro

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Fans of Hong Kong Lounge II mourned its loss when a fire took out the Geary Boulevard restaurant in 2019, but it returned in 2023 with a new location in SoMa (albeit with a slightly different name). Favorites such as the restaurant’s crispy baked pork buns and steamed har gow are still on the menu but diners should venture into other dishes, such as the glazed coffee baby back ribs or whole roasted duck with plum sauce, for more filling options.

Hing Lung Company 興隆燒臘肉食公司

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This Cantonese barbecue shop’s crackly-skinned roast pig and succulent, honey-brushed char siu — served either on its own or as part of a rice plate — make for some of the most luxurious bites in the city. For most of Hing Lung’s existence, delivery was never an option, but during the pandemic, co-owner Eric Cheung signed onto delivery apps under the moniker Go Duck Yourself, though of course customers can still walk up and order takeout.

China Live

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The casual first-floor market restaurant in George Chen’s massive, multi-venue complex is known for customer favorites like its crisp-bottomed sheng jian bao and its Beijing duck sesame pockets. The rest of the menu offers everything from fried scallion bread and butter garlic noodles to Dongbei-style long potstickers. While you’re there, might as well stock up on condiments made at the restaurant.

Mister Jiu's

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Chef Brandon Jew’s ambitious Chinese American restaurant in the heart of Chinatown continues to shine, retaining its status as the only Michelin-starred Chinatown restaurant in 2021. Though Jew has gone on to introduce a number of new projects, from spinoffs to a cookbook, Mister Jiu’s is the original favorite and now serves a prix fixe menu with the option to add on banquet-style plates including the roast duck platter with peanut butter hoisin.

Patricia Chang

Harborview Restaurant & Bar 凱悅匯

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Run by members of the R&G Lounge crew, Harborview is more than just a swanky banquet space with views of the water. It’s also serving some of the tastiest dim sum in the city, turning out consistently solid versions of all the standards, from har gow to siu mai to baked barbecue pork buns. The restaurant has an extensive takeout menu that includes dim sum, family-style entrees, and prix-fixe meals — and even Dungeness crab.

Hakka Restaurant 客家山莊

Often described as a kind of soulful cousin to Cantonese food, the cuisine of China’s migratory Hakka people abounds with pickled vegetables and slow-cooked meats. This homey Outer Richmond restaurant is a great place to get hooked on these rustic, comforting flavors. Must-order dishes include salt-baked chicken, clams stir-fried with basil, and braised pork belly with shrimp paste.

The outside of a restaurant.
Hakka Restaurant doesn’t mess around when it comes to braised pork belly.
Google Maps

Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant 老北京

On cold nights prior to the pandemic, many of the regulars who’d crowd the small, scruffy dining room at Old Mandarin Islamic would order one of the spicy Beijing-style hot pots. In general, the restaurant, which specializes in Chinese Muslim cuisine, is a great place to feast on lamb — stir-fried with cumin, braised, or boiled in a clay pot. Chile-heads will want to test their endurance against the side dish/condiment known as la si ni, or “spice you to death.”

A photo of food. Patricia Chang

Terra Cotta Warrior 老家陕西

Head to this Outer Sunset gem for Shaanxi cuisine, which many Americans became acquainted with thanks to Xian Famous Foods in New York. The menu’s highlights include lots of lamb dishes; stretchy, semi-translucent cold noodles (or mian pi); and the meat-stuffed sandwiches known as rou jia mo, or “Chinese burgers.”

Yuanbao Jiaozi 元寶餃子

A perennial Sunset favorite, this dumpling shop on Irving Street has often held an “if you know you know” reputation. No longer, as the popularity of expertly-made xiao long bao has exploded into the public arena. It was only a matter of time before legions arrived for a seat at this simple shop. Try the beef noodle soup if an array of dumplings won’t suffice.

House of Pancakes 餡餅之家

This no-frills northern Chinese spot in Parkside specializes in flaky scallion- and sesame seed-flecked pancakes, often rolled up with thinly sliced beef or scrambled eggs. It’s a carb-fest here: the dumplings and hand-pulled noodles are also pretty great.

Sichuan Home

Head to this Geary Street restaurant for, as the name indicates, Sichuan cuisine including the red-tinged Chef’s Special Fish Stew that’s heated tableside and lamb chops encrusted in cumin. Those with an affection for offal can try pan-fried pig intestine, tripe in red chile sauce, and spicy pig brain.

Beijing Restaurant 北京小館

How lucky is San Francisco to have a Beijing restaurant whose whole reason for being isn’t its duck? Instead, regulars at this Excelsior mainstay mostly come for the kitchen’s northern Chinese dough-based dishes: chewy hand-made noodles; big, Beijing-style crepes and pancakes; and little stir-fried flour balls.

Blue Whale Restaurant & Lounge

Blue Whale’s long entrance hall belies a lavish and luxe interior, with phenomenal fare to match. From chef Ho Chee Boon, the mind behind the reborn Empress by Boon, this restaurant is ideal for first dates, family get-togethers, and a well-made cocktail after work. The food isn’t just Chinese as Boon pulls from myriad origins for his menu, but dishes such as the crab Shanghai xiao long bao and dried scallop and peanut rice ensure it’s a must-visit for fans of Chinese cuisine.

Rojak at Blue Whale Blue Whale

Mamahuhu 馬馬虎虎

Chef Brandon Jew’s most casual and accessible restaurant yet is this counter-service operation in the Inner Richmond that specializes in Chinese American takeout classics: sweet-and-sour chicken, beef and broccoli, and egg rolls. Every dish is made with well-sourced ingredients, abundant vegetables, and precise Chinese technique — which means that chicken, for instance, isn’t cloyingly sweet and has a satisfying crunch.

Gourmet Carousel

After closing in July 2022, the longtime Pacific Heights Chinese restaurant Gourmet Carousel reopened in April 2023 under slightly new owners. At the helm: the children of original owners BoHing Ko and his wife Sai Ko who ran the restaurant for nearly four decades. The business is back for both lunch and dinner offering dishes including Hakka chicken soup, honey walnut shrimp, and Singapore-style fried rice noodles for dine-in and takeout.

Dianne de Guzman

HK Lounge Bistro

Fans of Hong Kong Lounge II mourned its loss when a fire took out the Geary Boulevard restaurant in 2019, but it returned in 2023 with a new location in SoMa (albeit with a slightly different name). Favorites such as the restaurant’s crispy baked pork buns and steamed har gow are still on the menu but diners should venture into other dishes, such as the glazed coffee baby back ribs or whole roasted duck with plum sauce, for more filling options.

Hing Lung Company 興隆燒臘肉食公司

This Cantonese barbecue shop’s crackly-skinned roast pig and succulent, honey-brushed char siu — served either on its own or as part of a rice plate — make for some of the most luxurious bites in the city. For most of Hing Lung’s existence, delivery was never an option, but during the pandemic, co-owner Eric Cheung signed onto delivery apps under the moniker Go Duck Yourself, though of course customers can still walk up and order takeout.

China Live

The casual first-floor market restaurant in George Chen’s massive, multi-venue complex is known for customer favorites like its crisp-bottomed sheng jian bao and its Beijing duck sesame pockets. The rest of the menu offers everything from fried scallion bread and butter garlic noodles to Dongbei-style long potstickers. While you’re there, might as well stock up on condiments made at the restaurant.

Mister Jiu's

Chef Brandon Jew’s ambitious Chinese American restaurant in the heart of Chinatown continues to shine, retaining its status as the only Michelin-starred Chinatown restaurant in 2021. Though Jew has gone on to introduce a number of new projects, from spinoffs to a cookbook, Mister Jiu’s is the original favorite and now serves a prix fixe menu with the option to add on banquet-style plates including the roast duck platter with peanut butter hoisin.

Patricia Chang

Harborview Restaurant & Bar 凱悅匯

Run by members of the R&G Lounge crew, Harborview is more than just a swanky banquet space with views of the water. It’s also serving some of the tastiest dim sum in the city, turning out consistently solid versions of all the standards, from har gow to siu mai to baked barbecue pork buns. The restaurant has an extensive takeout menu that includes dim sum, family-style entrees, and prix-fixe meals — and even Dungeness crab.

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