China Live

4.5
665 reviews
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$30 and under
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Chinese
"Restaurant of the Year" - EaterSF
Our first floor restaurant features a daily changing seasonal menu cooked from 8 specialized stations that merge traditional Chinese and Western culinary equipment. A main dining area plays centerpiece, appointed with chairs and tables all handcrafted in China from reclaimed Chinese elm. These exhibition kitchens, with plenty of bar seating, will allow you a more close-up view of the deft chefs in action.
What 665 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.3
service
4.3
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
87% of people would recommend it to a friend
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J
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Good food but very loud

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l
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 3

Wonderful food! Unfortunately, we were seated near the exit door, and people kept coming in and out all throughout the meal, despite the clear "Exit only" signs. It was very unpleasant.

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SF
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Service was great. Food didn’t wow us as it did on our first visit.

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BS
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The service was the Best I’ve had in awhile dining out.
Our waiter, Michael was exceptional! Very knowledgeable about menu, attentive with a smile, and made suggestions which we tried. Thank You!!

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J
San Francisco
30 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Loved China Live overall however the noise level is deafening.

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SS
Birmingham
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

The calamari was delicious, but that was the best part of the meal. We ordered the garlic chicken for our entree, and it was dry and not very flavorful.

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CA
San Francisco
28 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Hip spot, outstanding food. Fresh & clean. Cool cocktails. Noise level high, great tables for groups.

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H
1 review
Dined on January 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

IT WAS REALLY NICE AND THE WAITER WAS VERY NICE. HE DID, HOWEVER, TELL US RIGHT OFF THE BAT WHAT DE DID NOT RECOMMEND. THE AMBIANCE IS FUN AND THE FOOD WAS GOOD. THE WORKING HANDS DUMPLINGS WERE THE BEST.

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e
San Francisco
103 reviews
Dined on January 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Nice dumplings

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OT
Orange County
82 reviews
Dined on January 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Contemporary and fresh Chinese cuisine, casual setting, friendly service and good wine selection. It is quite lively and tables are close together - it would help the conversation. they were a bit more apart.

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OT
1 review
Dined on January 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

the food and service were outstanding. We had a group of 10 and asked our waitress to feed us with whatever she saw fit. Wow, what a meal! From the dumplings to the sea bass, I loved every bite. Even the green beans were worth talking about.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

The Pecking Duck meat was the fat part only - we had to spit it out. Chinese broccoli and mushroom were all burned. Everything was either fatty, oily, salty or burned

The waiter was the worst part of our experience. He was not around all the time after the first order, had to look for him so long. We ordered an extra rice because the scollop dish was too salty but he brought it when we finished eating.. He spilt the tea at the table, brought a dirty glass, bad attitude, brought a wrong check and credit card. He was THE WORST!

The money we spent there was $170 - so ridiculous. Never come back to this place

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D
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My #1 favorite place! Food is the best I've had in SF!

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M
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 5

We had a good time, but the ambiance is better than the food!

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d
San Francisco
25 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Smoked sea bass was fast but portion was small. Rice vinegar sliced cucumbers were a nice contrast to the fish. The clay pot rice dish had very small bits of duck fat, shiitake mushrooms and bacon. Plenty of Chinese sausage though. Dishes were overpriced.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 4

Our waitress did not have good knowledge of the menu nor appropriate sizing of dishes to be helpful in the ordering process. We were seated in the cafe area and it seemed like she mainly worked at the cafe and wasn’t sufficiently tenured to be waiting on us.

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OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 2

Bel posto e bell’ambiente . Qualità cibo ottima soprattutto i dimsum . Troppo rumoroso però è aria condizionata a manetta nonostante fosse inverni

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l
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

Great ambience. Attentive service. The dishes are way too salty.

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Holidays !

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AS
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I loved our lunch at China Live. We had the best kung-pao chicken and ma-po tofu that I have ever had, in addition to gorgeous cocktails and some innovative desserts (a lemon ricotta with shaved mango ice and boba was particularly wonderful). This may be my new favorite Chinese restaurant.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Excellent food! Would definitely recommend.

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m
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 3

Lively, buzzing place with creative offerings and friendly, efficient staff. Very noisy for talking to friends, and some dishes are overrated, such as the crispy duck which for $32 is about 8 slices of fatty pork with crisp skin--one person got sick from all the fat.

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T
Los Angeles
53 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our first visit to ChinaLive. Food was absolutely the best And beyond our expectations Our server was extremely helpful in guiding our selections. The Sumai was so delicious we ordered a second portion. The duck was so tender and flavorful. Can’t wait to go back

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PA
Palm Springs
3 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Very nice. First time there and enjoyed it.
A bit loud. Hard to have a conversation and a bit too crowded.
Tables very close together. Rear ends and purses very close when passing.

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OT
San Antonio
4 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

The food is very good but not amazing and for the price we didn’t feel it was worth it. If it was a little cheaper we would have rated it better but we felt it was expensive.

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OT
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

Food was very mediocre... disappointing. China Live has become a commercial venture ; for people who don’t know authentic, well prepared food should be and can be.

Very disappointing.

Will not return or recommend it.

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k
San Francisco
63 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Never disappoints! Great food. Not typical Chinese fare; more eclectic, creative, and interesting. Delicious. The shrimp/crab appetizers are more like straws and you honestly can’t stop eating them, they are so amazing. Our vegetarian dumplings were the tastiest ever, with pea tendrils and mushrooms (I think). Kevin was a terrific server and took super care of us even when the dining room was overflowing. The trick is to get an early reservation and graze through the night. Even though conversation can be a bit of a challenge the more people start filling the tables, it’s worth every moment.

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JB
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Fun family-style restaurant. There are multiple restaurants, so booking through Open Table could be tricky. This is an emporium/experience - store and multiple restaurants, I did end up (with children) in the restaurant I wanted to be in as opposed to the high end restaurant with a tasting menu, but I was not able to confirm before I arrived. Waiter was great and food was delicious.

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OT
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 2food 5service 5ambience 3

we had a great server - Thank you! the food was excellent. Thank you! the assigned table sucked. the level of noise was more than the allowed levels by the government. it made it impossible to have a meaningful conversation. from my previous visits (not booked through opentable) I knew it is a dynamic place. but the assigned table for two we got yesterday simply not acceptable. the hosts tried to reassign us another table. It would have been at the DimSum bar. Next to the restroom; and most importantly we would have to sit side by side. it is a great place for parties of four or more.

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j
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

China Live is the best chinese food I have ever had. It is noisy in there though.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 3

Great food, marginal service. Multiple Missed orders.

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R
Chicago
18 reviews
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 1

We made this reservation a month before the date and when we got there we were seated in a back corner by the exit where the door kept opening and it was freezing. We asked to move but they said there were no tables to move to. The food was very average. Then I got an email from OpenTable saying I never checked in for my reservation. I had to go up to the hostess and ask her why we weren’t checked in. I hope it went through.

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A
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 4

Worst restaurant experience I’ve had in a long time. Our waiter got our order completely wrong. Dishes we hadn’t selected showed up and ones we had selected never did. It required some pestering of other staff members to get what we wanted. And there was plastic wrap in a potsticker. And I had to send the check back twice for corrections. And the waiter had a bit of an attitude. Won’t go back. It’s a shame, because the food is tasty and the restaurant design is stellar.

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HL
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 2

The place is like a food court. Expect to see lots of kids and family running around.

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AC
Tampa
4 reviews
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Dinner was delicious! Our server, Ken, was very helpful in helping us select our dishes. We had the cucumber skins, duck pockets, blistered green beans and flat iron steak. It all came out perfectly. We would definitely come back the next time we’re in SF! Plus, 10% off in the store after dinner was great!

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M
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 2

We went on Christmas Eve and service was terrible! We were there for early dinner and few of drinks are already gone and out waitress for got to place on one of our dish.

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L
San Francisco
45 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

We were impressed with the exucution and flavors of all the dishes we had

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r
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 4

Not family oriented. Service was excruciatingly slow. We told our waiter we had 1.5 hours for lunch. Server was not helpful offering ideas for dishes that all kids love except of course ours. We never got one dish we were charged for and I paid for. It was brought out when we were leaving the table. He didn’t really listen to the moms requests about what their kids like and don’t like.

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RW
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Staff, food top notch!!

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T
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 2ambience 2

China Live is a great restaurant for someone who likes an unseasoned Italian interpretation of Chinese cuisine. The recommendation for China Live from places like Eater is what happens when you do not have a diverse staff. I was offended by the food and taste. I argued that Panda Express has better flavor than this sorry interpretation of Chinese cuisine.

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