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Won ton soup and other dishes are ready to serve to loyal lunch time customers at Chinatown’s legendary Sam Wo restaurant in San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, April 19, 2012. The restaurant’s owner is closing its doors for good on Friday
Won ton soup and other dishes at Chinatown’s legendary Sam Wo restaurant.
Photo By Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Where to Eat and Drink in San Francisco’s Chinatown

A guide to the neighborhood’s most beloved noodle joints and dim sum parlors

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Won ton soup and other dishes at Chinatown’s legendary Sam Wo restaurant.
| Photo By Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The pandemic didn’t spare any cuisine or any neighborhood in San Francisco, but the city’s Chinatown — and its Chinese restaurants in general — bore the brunt of the burden. Even so, the neighborhood has proven resilient and these days you’ll find most of the restaurants have reopened if not for indoor dining, then at least for takeout and/or delivery, including some of the neighborhood’s most beloved, long-enduring spots. Here is a selection of favorite new and classic Chinatown spots, perfect for satisfying your dim sum or barbecue rice plate cravings.

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China Live

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Downstairs at George Chen’s massive, multi-venue complex you’ll find a full menu of Chinese specialties, including customer favorites like crisp-bottomed sheng jian bao and Peking duck sesame pockets, while the more upscale Eight Tables upstairs serves a more expensive tasting menu. There’s also the swanky Cold Drinks Bar for cocktail fans, and don’t forget to peruse the marketplace’s selection of housemade condiments and snacks on your way out.

V.I.P. Coffee & Cake Shop

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V.I.P. features the kind of eclectic menu that’s typical of a Hong Kong-style cafe: everything from baked pork chops over rice (or red-sauce spaghetti) and hot, sweet milk tea to stir-fried noodles and fried chicken wings. It’s also a bakery, with a full selection of cakes and pastries.

Hing Lung Company

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This Cantonese barbecue shop’s crackly-skinned roast pig and succulent, honey-brushed char siu make for some of most luxurious bites in the whole city. For most of Hing Lung’s existence, delivery was never an option, but to add another revenue stream, co-owner Eric Cheung finally signed onto Uber Eats under the moniker “Go Duck Yourself.” Old school Cantonese comfort food is the name of the game here: superlative roast duck and other barbecue meats, served either on their own or as part of a rice plate.

Half of a roast duck trimmed and chopped. Go Duck Yourself

House of Nanking

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A Chinatown standard for more than 40 long years, House of Nanking remains a reliable destination for Shanghainese food unlike what’s found elsewhere in San Francisco. The pro move is to let the staff order for you; all you have to do is sit back and await heaping plates of house noodles, sesame chicken, and shrimp packets swimming in peanut sauce. It’s affordable and popular, so there may be a wait.

House of Nanking

Wong Lee Bakery

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Chinatown’s most legendary egg tarts can be found at Golden Gate Bakery but since it’s still yet to reopen from its pandemic slumber (if it ever does), you can get your fix at Wong Lee Bakery, an itty bitty counter on Jackson Street. The egg tarts are everything you could want and more with a flaky crust — no soggy bottoms — and a smooth custard inside. If you’re particularly lucky, they’ll still be warm when you inhale them, which might be as soon as you step back out onto the sidewalk.

An egg tart from Wong Lee Bakery Lauren Saria

New Woey Loy Goey Restaurant

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This Chinatown basement restaurant — whose history goes back some 90 years — serves some of the heartiest and most inexpensive Cantonese food in town. Customer favorites include old-school dishes like tomato-and-beef chow mein, salt-and-pepper fried pork chops, and steamed pork hash. The rice plates are an especially good deal, at just $9 or $10 a pop.

Z & Y Restaurant

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Favorites at this hugely popular Sichuan restaurant — though it was recently embroiled in a wage theft lawsuit — include tongue-numbingly spicy Sichuan standards like chilled beef tendon, chicken with explosive chili pepper, and one of the better versions of wontons in red chili oil around.

New Golden Daisy

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This is your prototypical Cantonese takeout deli with roast meats hanging in the window and big vats of prepared dishes sitting on the steam table. But the best reason to hit up New Golden Daisy is to get a big carton of its excellent fried chicken wings — drumettes, specifically.

Good Mong Kok Bakery

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This dim sum takeout joint is where you’ll find some of the longest lines in Chinatown. The main attractions are the giant steamers filled with every kind of bao (or bun) you can imagine, including a super-savory pork-and-vegetable bao and one of the best steamed charsiu (roast barbecue pork) buns in town.

Sam Wo Restaurant

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The iconic, century-old restaurant is still open and serving its popular fish jook and barbecue pork rice rolls — including for takeout and app-based delivery. Those feeling a little more adventurous can go for the deluxe raw fish salad, with its mix of preserved vegetables and candied citrus rinds.

© Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan

Hon's Wun-Tun House

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Ordering at this decades-old legacy business is about as straightforward as it gets. You’re going to want noodles, probably the soupy ones with bite-size wontons, served in the same style you’ll find at the bustling little noodle shops found on countless Hong Kong street corners — and at a similarly affordable price point. Toppings run the gamut from stewed beef brisket and tendon to pig’s feet, and the housemade chile oil is a must.

Capital Restaurant

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Capital remains a prime destination for large groups and rambunctious get-togethers in Chinatown. Whatever you do, don’t skip the salt-and-pepper fried chicken wings.

R & G Lounge

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Known for its salt-and-pepper Dungeness crab and other elegant Cantonese dishes, R & G is a Chinatown staple, especially for seafood lovers and connoisseurs of Chinese-style roasted poultry. The dining rooms at this three-story restaurant are once again bustling, plus takeout and app-based delivery are available.

Crab at R & G Lounge R & G Lounge

City View Restaurant

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High-end places like Yank Sing and Dragon Beaux may get all the dim sum glory, but City View should share the spotlight for its very solid cart-style dim sum. The restaurant is open dine-in, with a wide selection of both classic dim sum items and larger entrées. For those not doing indoor dining, walk up, call in, or order online — with delivery available through all of the major third-party apps.

City View Stefanie Tuder

Mister Jiu's

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Mister Jiu’s is a destination not only in Chinatown but also for all of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. There’s perhaps no better place to get a taste of what fine dining modern Cantonese food can be than at James Beard award-winning chef Brandon Jew’s Michelin-starred restaurant, perched on the second floor of a building overlooking the crowded neighborhood. The menu changes seasonally but staples include sourdough scallion pancakes and a whole roasted Liberty duck served with peanut butter hoisin.

Liberty Farm Peking Style Roast Duck at Mister Jiu’s. Lauren Saria

China Live

Downstairs at George Chen’s massive, multi-venue complex you’ll find a full menu of Chinese specialties, including customer favorites like crisp-bottomed sheng jian bao and Peking duck sesame pockets, while the more upscale Eight Tables upstairs serves a more expensive tasting menu. There’s also the swanky Cold Drinks Bar for cocktail fans, and don’t forget to peruse the marketplace’s selection of housemade condiments and snacks on your way out.

V.I.P. Coffee & Cake Shop

V.I.P. features the kind of eclectic menu that’s typical of a Hong Kong-style cafe: everything from baked pork chops over rice (or red-sauce spaghetti) and hot, sweet milk tea to stir-fried noodles and fried chicken wings. It’s also a bakery, with a full selection of cakes and pastries.

Hing Lung Company

This Cantonese barbecue shop’s crackly-skinned roast pig and succulent, honey-brushed char siu make for some of most luxurious bites in the whole city. For most of Hing Lung’s existence, delivery was never an option, but to add another revenue stream, co-owner Eric Cheung finally signed onto Uber Eats under the moniker “Go Duck Yourself.” Old school Cantonese comfort food is the name of the game here: superlative roast duck and other barbecue meats, served either on their own or as part of a rice plate.

Half of a roast duck trimmed and chopped. Go Duck Yourself

House of Nanking

A Chinatown standard for more than 40 long years, House of Nanking remains a reliable destination for Shanghainese food unlike what’s found elsewhere in San Francisco. The pro move is to let the staff order for you; all you have to do is sit back and await heaping plates of house noodles, sesame chicken, and shrimp packets swimming in peanut sauce. It’s affordable and popular, so there may be a wait.

House of Nanking

Wong Lee Bakery

Chinatown’s most legendary egg tarts can be found at Golden Gate Bakery but since it’s still yet to reopen from its pandemic slumber (if it ever does), you can get your fix at Wong Lee Bakery, an itty bitty counter on Jackson Street. The egg tarts are everything you could want and more with a flaky crust — no soggy bottoms — and a smooth custard inside. If you’re particularly lucky, they’ll still be warm when you inhale them, which might be as soon as you step back out onto the sidewalk.

An egg tart from Wong Lee Bakery Lauren Saria

New Woey Loy Goey Restaurant

This Chinatown basement restaurant — whose history goes back some 90 years — serves some of the heartiest and most inexpensive Cantonese food in town. Customer favorites include old-school dishes like tomato-and-beef chow mein, salt-and-pepper fried pork chops, and steamed pork hash. The rice plates are an especially good deal, at just $9 or $10 a pop.

Z & Y Restaurant

Favorites at this hugely popular Sichuan restaurant — though it was recently embroiled in a wage theft lawsuit — include tongue-numbingly spicy Sichuan standards like chilled beef tendon, chicken with explosive chili pepper, and one of the better versions of wontons in red chili oil around.

New Golden Daisy

This is your prototypical Cantonese takeout deli with roast meats hanging in the window and big vats of prepared dishes sitting on the steam table. But the best reason to hit up New Golden Daisy is to get a big carton of its excellent fried chicken wings — drumettes, specifically.

Good Mong Kok Bakery

This dim sum takeout joint is where you’ll find some of the longest lines in Chinatown. The main attractions are the giant steamers filled with every kind of bao (or bun) you can imagine, including a super-savory pork-and-vegetable bao and one of the best steamed charsiu (roast barbecue pork) buns in town.

Sam Wo Restaurant

The iconic, century-old restaurant is still open and serving its popular fish jook and barbecue pork rice rolls — including for takeout and app-based delivery. Those feeling a little more adventurous can go for the deluxe raw fish salad, with its mix of preserved vegetables and candied citrus rinds.

© Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan

Hon's Wun-Tun House

Ordering at this decades-old legacy business is about as straightforward as it gets. You’re going to want noodles, probably the soupy ones with bite-size wontons, served in the same style you’ll find at the bustling little noodle shops found on countless Hong Kong street corners — and at a similarly affordable price point. Toppings run the gamut from stewed beef brisket and tendon to pig’s feet, and the housemade chile oil is a must.

Capital Restaurant

Capital remains a prime destination for large groups and rambunctious get-togethers in Chinatown. Whatever you do, don’t skip the salt-and-pepper fried chicken wings.

R & G Lounge

Known for its salt-and-pepper Dungeness crab and other elegant Cantonese dishes, R & G is a Chinatown staple, especially for seafood lovers and connoisseurs of Chinese-style roasted poultry. The dining rooms at this three-story restaurant are once again bustling, plus takeout and app-based delivery are available.

Crab at R & G Lounge R & G Lounge

City View Restaurant

High-end places like Yank Sing and Dragon Beaux may get all the dim sum glory, but City View should share the spotlight for its very solid cart-style dim sum. The restaurant is open dine-in, with a wide selection of both classic dim sum items and larger entrées. For those not doing indoor dining, walk up, call in, or order online — with delivery available through all of the major third-party apps.

City View Stefanie Tuder

Mister Jiu's

Mister Jiu’s is a destination not only in Chinatown but also for all of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. There’s perhaps no better place to get a taste of what fine dining modern Cantonese food can be than at James Beard award-winning chef Brandon Jew’s Michelin-starred restaurant, perched on the second floor of a building overlooking the crowded neighborhood. The menu changes seasonally but staples include sourdough scallion pancakes and a whole roasted Liberty duck served with peanut butter hoisin.

Liberty Farm Peking Style Roast Duck at Mister Jiu’s. Lauren Saria

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