Review: China Live.

The newest addition to San Francisco’s Chinatown is China Live, a sleek and modern marketplace and dining hall similar to Eataly’s popular concept.

China Live is coming from chef and restauranteur George Chen who has opened numerous successful restaurants around San Francisco as well as abroad. On the bottom ground of China Live you’ll find an oolong café, a market restaurant and bar, and a retail marketplace. Later this year he’ll open Eight Tables by George Chen upstairs, a fine dining intimate restaurant which I look forward to trying.

Like many Chinese restaurants, the menu is slightly overwhelming with countless items to choose from. Since it was just Tommy and I, obviously we couldn’t try everything so next time I’ll be sure to come with a larger group.

Sheng Jian Bao: Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8/10).

These dumplings were probably one of my favorite items that I tried due to the crunchy crust on the bottom and the flavorful pork filling. There was also even some liquid inside the dumpling, similar to soup dumplings, but obviously with a thicker doughy wrapper outside. Definitely try these.

Sichuan “Working Hands” Dumplings with Sesame Butter and Peppercorn Chili Broth (7/10).

These were tasty but I probably wouldn’t order them again. The dumplings themselves weren’t that flavorful and the chili seasoning slightly overpowered the other flavors. Next time I’ll probably try the xiao long bao, traditional soup dumplings, since those looked pretty delicious.

Fried Monterey Calamari with Basil and Chili (7.5/10).

Nicely fried calamari, not too bready or heavy, and I loved all the aromatic herbs and chili with it. However, the unseasoned fried rice noodles on the bottom served absolutely no purpose.

Pork Belly Lotus Buns with Pao Tsai Cabbage and Peanut Glaze (8/10).

While these were on the heavier side, they were pretty dank. Super fluffy buns stuffed with unctuous pork belly with a sweet and salty peanut glaze and slightly pickled cabbage. I would get these again.

Peking Duck with Kumquat Glaze in Sesame Pockets (8/10).

Not your traditional peking duck buns, typically they’re served with the fluffy buns, but I enjoyed these since it was slightly on the lighter side. The duck itself had a beautiful lacquered skin especially with the tart kumquat glaze.

They were so many other things I wanted to try from their dim sum to the larger main dishes to even desserts! Service was good but a little slow even though we went during a slow time during the week. I can only imagine how crowded it gets on the weekends so I’ll probably only go on a weekday. Overall food was consistently tasty so I would go again with a larger group to try more dishes. Therefore my rating is a 7.5-8/10.

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