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Aug 14, 2008 01:51 PM

Seeking excellent Chinese restaurant not far from Convention Center/Union Square

I'm from out of town but am looking for a top-notch Chinese restaurant not too far from the Convention Center/Union Square to host a group dinner for 15. If the place has a private dining room, all the better, if not, that's ok, too. If there are no good Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood, I'm also open to non-Chinese restaurants, too, though I'm not interested in nostalgia joints or places that emphasize quantity over quality. Thanks so much for your help.

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  1. Union Square is very close to Chinatown. I'd go with R&G Lounge.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chris Rising

      I wholeheartedly second this nomination. I've been to R&G with large groups before and was never disappointed. Make sure you get a table upstairs (NOT downstairs), and when you make the reservation, do it at least 24 hours in advance and get the fried chicken stuffed with sticky rice (requires 24 hour advance order). It's worth it, as is the salt & pepper crab, and some of the best chow fun in SF.

    2. Tian Sing is probably the best in the immediate neighborhood. Good food, nice, nothing fancy.

      Shanghai 1930's not far.

      Tian Sing Chinese Restaurant
      138 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Shanghai 1930 Restaurant
      133 Steuart Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Shanghai 1930 has very elegant private spaces and the staff seemed highly service-oriented at a few private events I've been to. Not cheap, but might be one of the easiest to deal with if you're setting up a long-distance event.

      2. You are close enough to walk to Empress of China on Grant Ave. They have facilities for a crowd of 15 with a great view of Telegrpah Hill. Close to a private room. Keep in mind that customarily, Chinese dinner tables are for 10. with appropriate dishes. You can negotiate dinner for 15, but may need two tables. Any good place can help you set this up. I've given many dinners there and got raves for the view. Food OK, but not really upscale. You can check the web site. If your group is not really into "authentic" Chinese food, thay will like Empress.

        2 Replies
        1. re: OldTimer

          Thanks. Anymore non-Chinese, non-private room suggestions in the area, meaning just a great reasonably priced place that can smoothly accommodate 15?

        2. Tommy Toy is on Montgomery in Financial across from Transamerica Pyramid. Very beautiful, quiet, elegant space. The dishes we liked the best were the steak and the lobster, both Chinese style, of course. We didn't like the seafood soup with the puff pastry dome. They probably have a private room; many celebrities eat here. Of course, expensive but memorable. It's about 5 min cab ride from Union Square, during normal traffic.

          12 Replies
          1. re: walker

            What price range are you looking for? A lot of these restaurants are pricy, especially Tommy Toy's which doesn't get all that many positive mentions.

            How many blocks is your limit? Are you planning to go direct from the convention center? Or is the hotel in Union Square and people are eating out after making a pit stop at the hotel?

            Here's a lot of restaurants near the Moscone. If you replace that search with Union Square there wil be restaurants near that area.

            Bong Su, a Vietnamese restaurant, is probably less expensive than Tommy Toy's, has had better reports and is across the street from the Convention Center. It has Private dining facilities for groups from 5-50. Look at the menu and see if that is your price range.

            Seriously don't even think of Canton which is near the Moscone but that's all I can say positive about it.

            Two, Oola, Ame, Farmer Brown, Anjou, Le Charm are all nice places that could accomodate your group, but not sure if that price range is more than you want.These and many of the others have websites, reports and menus on the place records.

            Tommy Toy's
            655 Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. re: rworange

              Farmer Brown may have excellent food but an out of towner should be warned this is a very scary location. A cab to and from the front door would be a must for me.

              1. re: walker

                "Scary" is relative. Farmer Brown is just off Market St, a hop, skip and a jump from Bloomingdales, I'd say there would be more to fear from cabbies if you filled up their cabs to go 0.33 miles from Moscone Center to the restuarant.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  I've driven a cab here 31 years and most trips from Moscone go to nearby hotels like Palace, St. Francis. I don't think most drivers have attitude about these trips. There's more $$ with a lot of short trips because of the $3.10 meter drop and tips. If people must walk "scary" neighborhoods (I used to rec Original Joe - about 2 block walk from Hilton) I tell them to walk fast and look mean.

                  1. re: walker

                    You may have a point about short trips being lucrative IF there is a lot of turnover, but in any event, I think it's really a reach and unduly alarmist to call that particular walk scary. Maybe safety only exists on the inside of a cab, but not in my worldview.

                  2. re: Xiao Yang

                    Farmer Brown is also full-blown in the Tenderloin. I'm cool with such things, but know many people who aren't, and respect walker's concern here. I've gone to FB and had to walk past men pissing on the building as I entered. It's not a good neighborhood by any stretch.

                    (More importantly, the food at FB is consistently mediocre... Go for the cocktails, and then find somewhere else to dine.)

                    1. re: peterme

                      The original rap was that it was "very scary." There's a difference between unsightly or malodorous and scary.

                        1. re: Xiao Yang

                          I think the sense a lot of people have is that if someone can piss on a building in plain sight, they're probably capable of other anti-social behavior as well.

                    2. re: walker

                      Farmer Brown is just a block from the Powell Street cable car turnaround. If you walk up 4th from Moscone and down Market to Farmer Brown it's tourists and shoppers all the way.

                      North or west of Farmer Brown on Market, Turk, or Mason, yeah, it gets sleazy immediately.

                    3. re: rworange

                      I really didn't like Bong Su when I booked for a group there because Azie (my first choice, and like Bong Su, more of an Asian-fusion place) happened to be closed that day. Bong Su has atmosphere but the food is style over substance. But I haven't been to Azie in a few years, either, so I don't know if it's still as good as I remember it.

                      Lulu can certainly accommodate a large group, but they'd have to all know ASL. --PR

                      1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                        I have to disagree about Bong Su. It's spendy, but both times I've eaten there (once for lunch, another for dinner) I had a very tasty meal.

                  3. More info required. One might say Henry's Hunan, one might say Yank Sing.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: bbulkow

                      The OP is looking for dinner which rules out Yank Sing

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        Henry's has good food but the Natoma location is sort of funky. From "top-notch" and "private dining room" I'm assuming Benjamin68's looking for something a bit more upscale and business-dinner-ish.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Thanks for all these suggestions, and sorry to inadvertently kick-off such a heated discussion about the relative safety of the surrounding neighborhoods of certain restaurants. I believe we're going to be coming straight from the Convention Center. As for the budget and atmosphere, I would say not more than $50 per person, and more toward "refined" than "funky" though we're not fussy.

                          1. re: Benjamin68

                            If you want "refined" then Henry's is definitely not what you're looking for. I'd go with R&G Lounge. We had dinner for 11 there after an event at the convention center and it was well-received. It's a 15-minute walk or a $5 cab ride. As the other poster mentioned, when you make your reservation be sure to pre-order the chicken stuffed with sticky rice.

                            1. re: Benjamin68

                              I recently ate at Tian Sing, mentioned above, for lunch and found it delightful. The staff was welcoming and proficient. The food was quite good, definitely at Yank Sing level but nowhere near as spendy.

                              I highly recommend it.

                              Tian Sing Chinese Restaurant
                              138 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, CA 94102