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WHICH CHINESE RESTAURANT TO IMPRESS VISITORS?

We are bringing some first time visitors (Persians) to San Francisco to eat Chinese food. No hard-core chicken feet or holes-in-walls please:) We will be staying in Union Square, so somewhere around Chinatown or financial district would be ideal. Guests would most likely like seafood, Peking duck, and things like kung-pao chicken and broccoli beef(YIKES!!!) Someplace upscale....thanks!

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  1. Here's a current thread on Shanghai 1930, might be a good option.
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403078

    1. My very first visit to San Francisco was on a business trip, and the locals we were with took us to Empress of China. I haven't been there since, but remember the food was good and the atmosphere and view were great.

      http://empressofchinasf.com/

      4 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        Here's my 2005 post on Empress of China with photos to give an idea of the place.
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34411...

        P.S. Please do NOT take your visitors to House of Nanking. I doubt your visitors will enjoy standing on the sidewalk with a bunch of ill-informed tourists waiting for food that is completely not worth it.
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/17434...
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39784...

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          The decline and fall of the House of Nanking is really a sad story. Years ago when Peter Fang was in control of the kitchen the food was, I thought, very very good. And he was proud of what he was doing. Then, as W. B. Yeats tells us, things fell apart. So sad.

        2. re: mojoeater

          wow.... if it is the same Empress of China then it is certainly Old San Francisco Chinese. It was an institution when I went on prom night, and I graduated in 1975.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Same place. I first went there in the 70s too, my aunt was an investor at the time.

        3. It's no longer a hole-in-the-wall since they've expanded, though the decor is nothing to write home about, but it is the best Chinese food in SF:

          House of Nan King
          919 Kearny St
          San Francisco, CA
          94133-5106

          Phone: (415) 421-1429
          Cross Street:
          Jackson Street

          10 Replies
          1. re: voxbop

            I haven't eaten there (and some of my friends also love this place), but many people on this board do *not* think this is even close to the best chinese food in SF.

            Link to a very recent thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397843

            Dave MP

            1. re: Dave MP

              Well, most of the complaints are about other things then the food. All I can say is I've eaten at dozens of Chinese Restaurants in SF and have eaten at House of Nan King at least twenty times and have never had anything that wasn't delicious. I think there tends to be a "Zagat effect" where people tend to be reactionary because so much praise has been heaped on the place. You should try it Dave, you might be surprised. It certainly is a good value.

              1. re: voxbop

                If you use the search, you can find lots of scathing complaints here about the food, often from people who were expecting traditional Cantonese or Shanghai cuisine, which it definitely is not.

                Personally I think if you have an open mind and decent luck you can eat well there. If you have bad luck, you might get sweet potatoes in every dish.

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44162...

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  When I ate there many years ago, it was zucchini in every dish. It's definitely not authentic.

                  1. re: PekoePeony

                    lol. when i went there many years ago, it was tomatoes. maybe they get a deal on vegetables or something. I do remember that dinner was $10.

                    --anyway back on topic, the decor is too grungy for the guests me thinks yes even now. R&G seems more appropriate. Actually Rincon Center Yank Sing would be good too I think.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      Yank Sing is lunch only.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        let me rephrase

                        rincon center yank sing is open 11-3 on weekdays
                        10-4 on weekends.

                        http://www.yanksing.com/locations/ind...

                2. re: voxbop

                  What do you suggest, voxbop?

                  My long ago experiences there weren't that great, but that was combined with horrible service. What are your favorite dishes?

              2. re: voxbop

                Nooooooooooo. I have eaten there and it's not among the top 100 Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, let again all of San Francisco.

                1. re: voxbop

                  oh god. house of nanking is ONE OF THE WORST "chinese" restaurants in SF. It's simply terrible.

                2. R&G Lounge on Kearny is a popular choice for seafood and stuff. It recently expanded.

                  631 Kearny St
                  San Francisco, CA 94108
                  (415) 982-7877
                  http://www.rnglounge.com/

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: singleguychef

                    Second R&G -- order the seafood basket (bird's nest?) which tends to impress guests.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      Third R&G, which will allow you to get a little bit of neighborhood flavor if you wanted to walk around before settling into some chow. You didn't mention how many guests were visiting--R&G is good at accomodating groups.

                    2. re: singleguychef

                      How's the expansion/remodel look?

                      Here's my post from a birthday banquet at R&G Lounge last fall with photos.
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32680...

                      1. re: singleguychef

                        4th on R&G. Yes, there is better Canto food but for the overall experience, decor, staff and food it's hard to match.

                        The one tip is to get a spot/reservation upstairs (very contemporary by any standards) if at all possible. Also been there with Persians, it met the test of sleekness.

                        I'm also curious about the renovation.

                        1. re: ML8000

                          Thank you all for the recs!!!! I like the test of sleekness:) soooo appropriate!

                      2. My favorite is Tommy Toy's:

                        http://www.tommytoys.com/menus/index....

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mpalmer6c

                          Those are some hilarious comments on that referenced thread!

                          1. re: dhoffman1421

                            I'd go with R&G too. Tasty, non-greasy food, great service and nice decor ... I think it'll impress Chinese and non-Chinese customers alike. Just try to get their early coz there's usually quite a wait.

                        2. After reading all the recs, I'll have to go with Shanghai 1930, no parking worries (valet), really nice room(s), cigar lounge, and good food and atmosphere (quiet live music on weekends, maybe every night). Talk to George and have him set your party up for whatever you want.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Sarah

                            George Chen might be too busy, he has a lot of irons in the fire. But the woman our office always ends up talking to for special arrangents was extremely helpful and accomodating, including coming up with some off-the-menu vegetarian apps for our sole vegetarian.

                          2. if chinatown sounds appealing, i might suggest hunan home's, on jackson st. i went there a few times years ago, and i think they do a lot of the standards pretty well. i remember enjoying things like beef in black bean sauce, sizzling rice soup, and i had my first ever taste there of the ubiquitous honey walnut prawns. there are lots of non-chinese patrons, and the service was friendly and accomodating. it has been years, though. don't know so much about the "hunan" part of their strange name, but i think you could do a lot worse if you're looking for chinese-american restaurant standards. plus if the chinatown ambiance is appealing, then...well it's right in there.

                            i'm just throwing hunan home's out as an alternative, but the people suggesting R&G Lounge are doing so with good reason. their minced seafood lettuce cups are always on the back of my mind.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: augustiner

                              I had some good food at Hunan Home's a few years ago, but it's a somewhat dingy hole-in-the-wall type place.

                            2. I second Shanghai 1930. Food is somewhat shanghai style, and includes non-shanghai stuff for the non-chinese. Pricey, but the decor is good. XLB are a B+/A-.

                              Jai Yun might be OK, though it's a little bit hole-in-the-wall like, the food is very well prepared. It's a bit pricey, but worth it. It's nanjing style.

                              For HK style, R&G lounge is pretty good. Koi Palace is excellent.

                              1. Thank you all for the advice! Since R & G is just around the corner from our hotel, it works out perfectly for us:) Will report after our meal....

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: xanderjoon

                                  R&G Lounge's rep is based on certain special dishes. Do take some time to read the many past reports on this site to find out which ones appeal to you. Random ordering at R&G rarely satisfies and you won't get a glimpse of what this kitchen does best.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    I agree with this. I went to R&G once and I wasn't too impressed, and I think a big reason was because we didn't really know what to order. I definitely saw items on other tables when I was there that looked really good, so I'll be curious to hear what your meal is like....In general, I definitely do agree that R&G is a good place to go, given its location, how nice it is (upscale), and how good the food can be.

                                    Here's a link to a recent discussion on R&G. We did have the salt and pepper crab when we went, and I wasn't too impressed.

                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396992

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      I had a bad S&P Crab there once; so bad it was years before I returned. I usually recommend Great Eastern for people that are going cold, as I find it much more consistent both across the menu and across time.

                                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                                      Great advice, thanks! So far, read about crabs, beef with fried rice, peking duck, beef chow fun, fried tofu...did I miss anything?

                                      1. re: xanderjoon

                                        Ix-nay on the beef chow fun, haven't had the beef fried rice, not sure which fried tofu dish. Here's the post on R&G I had linked above.
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32680...

                                        And a few more,
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35167...
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/27611...
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44238...
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33048...

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          That one where the chicken is taken apart and then restuffed - soy sauce? salt-baked? Went there for birthday 4 years ago, friend from Hong Kong ordered ahead....

                                          1. re: LPCagain

                                            The glutinous rice (aka sticky rice) stuffed chicken is a whole chicken (skin, head and all) that's deboned, stuffed with glutinous rice and other goodies, then battered and deep-fried. Requires 24-hour advance order. R&G's version is my favorite, and you can see the photos in the url I linked above.

                                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Totally agree with this and would add that you look at what other folks are eating around you. That's actually why I prefer to sit downstairs, though I can see the appeal of a more placid and refined atmosphere, too.