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authentic chinese restaurant with good ambience for a first date? [San Francisco]

as much as i love kingdom of dumpling, it's not quite what i'm looking for. have heard really good things about house of pancakes, and pictures look somewhat promising.

am still looking for a more out of the way/less popular place (i realize R&G fits the bill, but also not quite what i'm looking for).

maybe grand hotpot lounge?

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  1. What about Yank Sing? Too well known?

    5 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      Yank Sing is only open at lunchtime, and not exactly the place for a romantic table for two then.

      1. re: soupçon

        Depends on the first date. I've had brunch type dates followed by walking/ the park/ice cream dates and they've worked quite well. But yes if night time and cozy table is the goal....I am a bit stumped. The Haakasan rec is solid in that it is upscale and sleek but I don't know if I'd find it romantic.

        1. re: soupçon

          In my opinion, dim sum is the worst format for a first date because of all the distractions and interruptions. Regardless of the decor or noise level, having a stranger come by every few minutes offering food is the opposite of intimate.

          And in response to hyperbowler's comment below about picky eaters and picking a safe place, I think you should pick a place you like and see if your date likes it too. At the very least you will learn something about your date's food preferences and vice versa.

          If you don't find a Chinese restaurant with enough ambience, consider going somewhere else afterward for dessert.

          1. re: felice

            I suppose on how well you know the person you're going on the first date with. If it were a blind date or something, I'd much prefer somewhere less intimate so that it's less painful if it isn't a good fit.

            1. re: mr_darcy

              Right. A quiet, white tablecloth type place can be rather stifling and intimidating for a first date. Interactions with other people can help provide topics of conversation (farmer's markets can be great for this)

              I wasn't sure whether the "out of the way" request is because he wants the first date to be something obscure/notwellknown or so that it won't be busy.

      2. One of my new favorites is Terra Cotta Warrior (Judah & 31st). It's a little "nicer" than House of Pancake but about the same price point.

        TCW specializes in Xi'an/Shaanxi cuisine and as such is noodle-centric, but the cold apps are good and they have a quite a few main dishes from Shaanxi and neighboring Sichuan (which they also do well).

        Owner David Deng is usually around (tall, thin man with glasses) and likes to educate people on his food, if you need any guidance.

        Here are some pics from my experiences there (mostly solo lunches, but the noodle dishes are all shareable).

        http://goo.gl/OtX6eb

        Terra Cotta Warrior
        2555 Judah St.
        415-681-3288

        1 Reply
          1. Those pictures of House of Pancakes must have been Photoshopped. Ambiance is definitely of the hole-in-the-wall variety.

            1. I haven't eaten at Grand Hotpot Lounge, but their menu contains photographs of dishes and that might make ordering less daunting. Of course, not everyone likes spicy and/or Sichuan food.

              Kingdom of Dumpling and House of Pancakes aren't very different ambience-wise.

              I like soupçon's suggestion of Terra Cotta Warrior. There are modern touches to the decor such as a piece of driftwood, the menu is short, you can balance the meal with cold small plates. Aside from the sourness and spiciness, there's not a lot on the menu to scare picky people off (e.g., minimal offal and seafoods), so it's safe for a first date, even if the food might be unfamiliar.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/968821

              2 Replies
              1. re: hyperbowler

                I've only been to TCW for lunch, but I agree that the ambience is good enough for a date, and both menu and staff are friendly. The place is small, though, and doesn't take reservations, so that might be an issue.

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  TCW definitely is several cuts above House of Pancakes.

                  Grand Hot Pot Lounge is nice too, but a bit cavernous and lacking an intimate feel.