While it may be unassuming from the outside on 644 Broadway, simply step into China Live and you will immediately be swept away into a magical cultural bazaar.
From an authentic tea shop, to a retail store/dining area, a full bar, and more, just the features on this spacious venue's first floor will astound you with their curated offerings and impress you with their delicious servings, and that's even before you explore the other levels.
This 30,000-square-foot food hall is the magnificent $20 million masterpiece of George Chen and Cindy Wong-Chen, and is one of the largest dining and luxury shopping pavillions in San Francisco comparable to the newly opened Eataly in Westfield Valley Fair.
You will certainly feel immersed in authentic Chinese and Taiwanese culture here, for, aside from the delectable fare, the atmosphere and varying floors alone have enough intricate details and charming touches to keep you on a culinary adventure.
The massive venue sources refined decor and interior design from AvroKo, and utilizes reclaimed wood to establish large tables to gather with family, friends, or coworkers, all with their family-style portions. The comforting aromas of their must-try Hong Kong Wok-Fried Egg Noodles and delectable Peking Duck in Sesame Pockets will invite you to their intimate and cozy dining area, complete with a visible kitchen reminiscent to a Chinese market.
To the left of this banquet hall is their lavish Oolong Café, which exquisitely serves traditional Taiwanese tea in the most precise, optimal temperatures. There is also a full central bar adjacent which concocts inventive libations from native Asian flavors such as the smooth Gold Mountain with rye, cognac, coconut sugar, and poppy liqueur, and the Rooster King with Kweichow moutai, five spice malt syrup, plum vinegar, dragonfruit tea, and more.
The Market Restaurant and kitchen are truly the centerpieces, showcasing custom Chinese cookware, copper counters, and playful ceiling details. Look up and be captivated by the Chinese characters that decorate the headspace with the nine essential Chinese flavors. Such artistry and attention to detail truly unify the space and evoke a charming sense of joy and awe as you discover more and more with your irresistably complex meal.
The seating is also cleverly divided by shelves that beautifully market their own inventory, such as kitchenware, their housemade ginger vinegar and chili sauces, and the divine Peking Duck Fat Caramel Popcorn. Shop to your delight but besure to also explore the even more resplendent upper levels.
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The gorgeous second floor boasts Chen's more sophisticated concept of Eight Tables, which premieres an exclusive prix fixe seasonal tasting menu, all elegantly within the radiant golden space.
Other upper level features include the fun speakeasy-type Cold Drinks Bar, and even more private seating on the third floor, with plans to revamp the rooftop as well. Each space proudly displays a sweeping view of Chinatown and North Beach with the TransAmerica Pyramid and Coit Tower in clear sight.
China Live is a uniquely posh, playful, and familial restaurant that continues to amaze even when you think you've seen it all inside. Definitely make a reservation and take time to explore each shelf and corner of this extravagant wonderland, and don't hesitate to say hi to the kind Founder & Executive Chef George Chen if you spot him!
Photography by: Debbie Tea/Unsplash