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Eating in SF Chinatown

We are leaving for San Francisco tomorrow to spend a week and we are hoping for some fantastic Chinese food (any kind, szechuan, cantonese, etc.). We have no idea of where to go in Chinatown and we are looking to you fellow foodies for advice. We will have our well-behaved 9 year old son with us, though this is not a deterrent because he loves all kinds of food--just need the place to be kid friendly'ish. Any suggestions?

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  1. Almost all places in Chinatown are kid-friendly.
    My favorite place in Chinatown is Great Eastern (Cantonese).
    Most people on this board think Chinatown is not the best place for the best Chinese food. However, it's worth bringing the kid there because there is so much to gawk at on the streets. Very exciting, especially after dark. Reasonably safe after dark. Park in the garage on Kearny between Washington and Clay. Great Eastern validates parking there. Lunch time is crowded, dinnertime less so.

    Great Eastern Restaurant
    649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

    4 Replies
    1. re: Joel

      If there are places outside of China town, we might be interested in that, too. What places do people think are best that are not in china town?

      1. re: liveforfood

        Koi Palace in Daly City (bordering SF just south) seems to be one of the consensus picks.

        1. re: liveforfood

          Koi Palace, for sure, but that's out of town and not easily accessible by any form of transit. Spices and Spices II in the Clement St. "New" Chinatown are good for spicy Taiwanese/Sichuan food, and Shanghai House and Shanghai Dumpling king (both on outer Balboa St.) are good for Shanghai style "small eats" but I wouldn't recommend either for dinner. Shanghai Restaurant in Oakland's Chniatown is actually easier to get to (by BART) and is good for both lunch and dinner.

          1. re: liveforfood

            All the best Chinese restaurants are scattered all over the Bay Area and put the Chinese food in Chinatown to shame. Besides Koi Palace in Daly City you'll find them in places like Millbrae, Milpitas, Cupertino and other suburban communities. However, I suspect given you'd be best off in Chinatown because of the atmosphere as well as the proximity to other points of interest, and where the food should be good enough.

        2. Also consider R&G Lounge on Kearny (1/2 block from garage) for good cantonese.

          1. Ok, hate answer a question with a question. Since you have a 9 year ago are in more interested in food or seeing the interesting Chinese food places.
            As already stated the best food may not be in Chinatown, but there is history in Chinatown.

            1. You might want to peruse this thread from earlier in the year.


              1. I was told by a Hongkong-born Chinese shop-keeper that the 2 best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, in his opinion, are Great Eastern and R&G Lounge. I tried both, and they are GREAT!

                1 Reply
                1. re: klyeoh

                  they are both very good, and vert presentable. There are other places that are much smaller, cheaper and more 'hole-in-the-wall" places that I'd go to that will land you good food as well.

                  I like Utopia Cafe, Hon's Wun Tun House. If you want dimsum Gold Mountain is pretty good too.

                2. Thank you for all your suggestions. We were in the city the other night after taking my son to the zoo and we wandered around Chinatown which was big fun for him (and us). We ended up at the R & G, and while the Peking Duck was fantastic and the minced seafood in lettuce cups was good, the rest of what we had was pretty blah. Maybe we ordered the wrong things, but I found the noodle dish to be very bland, the orange beef lacking in flavor, and the shrimp with walnuts was ok, but ordinary. After, we walked up the street to bakery hop for melon pies and such, so the overall experience was enjoyable and fun for my boy. Since we live in a city that has virtually NO decent Chinese food except for the Americanized, corn-starched variety, we may venture out to another place suggested in this thread outside of Chinatown to get our fill while we're here since it seems that most of you agree the best food isn't in Chinatown.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: liveforfood

                    R&G is notorious for its unevenness; you really have to cherry-pick the menu. That's the main reason I always recommend Great Eastern, because of its consistency across the menu, and there's seldom any unpleasant surprises; plus, it's more of a Chinatown experience, being in the heart of Chinatown rather than on the seedy fringe.

                    To tell the truth, for Cantonese cuisine there aren't many better options than Great Eastern and R&G unless you actually go out of town. Mayflower on Geary may be in the same class; I'm not a fan of Ton Kiang which a lot of people will recommend.

                  2. Outside of Chinatown, Mayflower rocks. Top pick: geoduck two ways (not listed on the menu, but well worth asking for). The first geoduck course is a soup with thousand year old eggs and the tougher pieces of the clam. The 2nd course is steamed geoduck in a ginger scallion sauce. Mustard greens with dried scallop, also rocks. And they make a mean beef in XO sauce.

                    R&G is not so kid friendly. One fun pick there (assuming you also get some kid friendly dishes to keep the kid friendly) would be the apetizer platter with duck tongues (takes a little practice to suck off the flesh with out getting the tiny bones--but worth the effort).

                    I don't care what anyone else says, Tong Kiang is still one of the best dim sum joints in the area. Really fresh, wonderful seafood dumplings, pea tips and salt and pepper shrimp (good enough to devour whole, skin and all). For dinner, they make an interesting sour dish of pickled squid or beef in wine sauce. Superb tofu skins.

                    1. Next time, try Hunan Home's at 711 Jackson. The best food, service, menu..and kid friendly. The larger your party the better.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ranchero

                        Hunan Homes isn't bad, if you cherry-pick the menu, which is front-loaded with a lot of Cantonese-American golden oldies. It's not Henry's Hunan, but better than Brandy Ho's.