search

Bring Your Appetite to San Francisco's Potluck of Asian Restaurants



With so many fantastic restaurants to choose from in San Francisco, be sure to take the time to set your expectations for your meal. If you're only in San Francisco for four days, for example, you have four chances to find that signature meal that could very well be the most memorable experience of your trip. By offering many different Asian options in our list below - from Chinese to Japanese to Vietnamese to Korean to Thai - we've increased your odds of finding that fantastic meal. And offering restaurant recommendations to friends back home who plan to visit San Francisco is one of the best gifts you can give.

We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of San Francisco restaurants. We share the places that get great buzz, like Tonga Room Hurricane Restaurant & Bar, and we showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time, like Slanted Door.

We also point out good neighborhoods for Asian restaurants in San Francisco - Nob Hill, for instance. When the craving hits, we'll make sure you get your fix!


Advertisement

Ace Wasabi's Rock 'n' Roll Sushi


For good times and great sushi, head to Ace Wasabi's, where you'll find a happening crowd and a diverse menu, including appetizers, salads, and seafood cooked and uncooked. Innovative sushi rolls are a specialty, as indicated by the Flying Kamikaze (spicy tuna, asparagus, and albacore) and the Three Amigos (tuna, eel, and cucumber). Fresh ingredients are standard, and daily specials up the ante on options. Friendly service is also a plus. Located in the hip and happening Marina, this modern take on sushi has the perfect location. After dinner, simply roll out the door and let the good times roll on.

Tom's expert tip: As the name implies, this is a more contemporary take on traditional sushi.

Read more about Ace Wasabi's Rock 'n' Roll Sushi →


Seoul Garden


An elegant decor sets the scene for delightful meals at this Korean restaurant. Delicious dishes come standard, and portions are served with a generous hand. For a bit of spectacle, full meals are prepared on a grill in the middle of the table, and the food is divided among guests. The menu offers a number of choices, although barbecued meats and vegetables are consistently favored. But if you happen to have someone in your party not that much into BBQ, get an order of Bibimpop, a mixed vegetable dish with bean sprouts and mushrooms served over rice that should please just about anybody.

Recommended for Asian because: Many believe this is the best Korean BBQ in the city.

Tom's expert tip: Get an extra order of kimchee with your BBQ - it's just the right amount of sour to even out the sweet spice!

Read more about Seoul Garden →


Yamo
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


If you want an Asian restaurant with plenty of space and attentive service, Yamo's may not be for you. But if you're willing to sacrifice some of the atmospheric frills that accompany most residents for an excellent, thoughtful meal, then try Yamo's. Located in the city's ultra-hip and busy Mission District, Yamo's is a cramped place where take-out is the best plan. Be sure to sample the unique and popular tea-leaf salad. Noodles can be served either hot or cold. If you are able to find a seat, it's a delight to watch the cooks work their magic on the hot stoves.

Recommended for Asian because: Yamo offers quality Asian food in a small, simple setting.

Tom's expert tip: Yamo is popular, so be prepared to wait in line. One of the best cheap-eat options in the Mission.

Read more about Yamo →


Advertisement
Tonga Room Hurricane Restaurant & Bar


The Tonga Room offers drinks, dancing, great Asian cuisine, and a festive atmosphere, including a simulated tropical rainstorm that shakes things up every twenty minutes. Expansive windows provide views of the bustling streetscape and live music and dancing take place nightly. The popular restaurant and bar also host a well-attended happy hour with its own special buffet. If you're there for dinner, consider one of the "Tonga Traditions," such as Mongolian Beef Beef Tenderloin with Oyster Mushrooms and Crispy Rice Noodles in an Oyster Glaze. Order up a tropical cocktail, see what tasty treats are available, and relax after a long day.

Recommended for Asian because: This novel restaurant makes many "must-see" San Francisco tourist lists.

Tom's expert tip: Order the Mai Tai during Happy Hour from 5-7 (Wednesday through Friday.) Although many associate the famous cocktail with Hawaii, it was actually first served in the East Bay - a local legend!

Read more about Tonga Room Hurricane Restaurant & Bar →


Yukol Place Thai Cuisine


Yukol Place offers tasty Thai food in a simple setting with a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Start with a fresh salad or a bowl of coconut soup to get the tastebuds acclimated. If you're there already, calamari salad with its zesty dressing packs a punch that's sure to please. To get a real sense of Thai flavors, try the Green Mango Salad with spicy tamarind sauce, grilled prawn, onion, coconut meat, apple and cashews. The standard pad Thai is also a good choice, and authentic Thai desserts give your sweet tooth a subtle, delicious treat. If you're looking to impress (without breaking the bank), Yukol is a must.

Recommended for Asian because: Yukol Place Thai is perfectly situated for tourists, right on famous Lombard Street.

Tom's expert tip: Start your meal off right with Angel Wings, boneless chicken wings stuffed with silver noodles.

Read more about Yukol Place Thai Cuisine →


Kyo-ya


Food and atmosphere complement one another in this upscale Japanese restaurant, contributing to its strong popularity. The menu offers a variety of maki and nigiri options, and the signature '49er roll even boasts gold leaf. Cooked dinners are available too, along with multi-course kaiseki meals, beautifully presented and artfully created. A full bar makes libations available, and garnished sakes in martini glasses are a must.

Recommended for Asian because: Kyo-ya is for those who want their sushi served with style and finesse.

Read more about Kyo-ya →


Mission Chinese Food


Locals swear this is the best Chinese food in the city - and the line out the front door every night supports that. Although some local restaurant critics have said the quality may be going downhill, Mission Chinese is still incredibly popular and offers one of the more interesting Asian menus in the whole city. Where else can you start off your meal with Beer-Brined Sichuan Pickles? Or Tea-Smoked Eel? If you like spicy, there are several dishes that will sizzle your tongue, including the always popular Ma Po Tofu. If you're willing to wait for a table and fight some crowds for your dinner, Mission Chinese is worth checking out.

Recommended for Asian because: Started by beloved restauranteur Danny Bowen, Mission Chinese remains very popular.

Tom's expert tip: Mission Chinese is incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike, so arriving early for dinner when they open at 5 should guarantee a table.

Read more about Mission Chinese Food →


3
Downtown
M.Y. China
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


If you think Chinese food in San Francisco is limited to take-out boxes from Chinatown, you need to visit M.Y. China and get an education on this exquisite cuisine. Your teacher will be the man who puts the M.Y. in M.Y. China, Martin Yan. As a host of over 3,000 different cooking shows and an author of over 30 cookbooks (including Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking with an intro by Julia Child), you'd be hard-pressed to find a chef with more experience with a passion for Chinese cuisine. Although Martin isn't always at the San Francisco location, his prints are all over the M.Y. China menu. Don't leave without trying the Duck Sliders!

Recommended for Asian because: At M.Y. China, the passion put into the food certainly shows. Everything is stellar.

Tom's expert tip: Two words: Duck Slider.

Read more about M.Y. China →


Slanted Door
Photo courtesy of Charles Haynes


High ceilings and awesome Bay views establish a unique atmosphere at this well-received waterfront venue. Style and spectacle are grounded, though, by Slanted Door's authentic country Vietnamese dishes, which get a California kick from local ingredients. Taste the results in the catfish clay pot, crispy peppercorn duck, shaking beef, spicy squid and mesquite-grilled pork chops. Spring rolls also come highly recommended, and great cocktails and scrumptious desserts are worth indulging in. And with a world-famous chef/owner like Charles Phan in charge (author of the fantastic cookbook "Vietnamese Home Cooking"), you'll get quite a crowd. And don't forget to keep an eye out for celebrities!

Recommended for Asian because: Some say Slanted Door is the best restaurant in San Francisco.

Tom's expert tip: Leave time to explore the Ferry Building, the amazing location of this fine restaurant.

Read more about Slanted Door →




If you want a truly unique Asian dining experience, head to House of Nanking. But be prepared to put yourself into the hands of head chef/owner Peter Fang, who since 1988 has down his best to get patrons to ignore the menu and allow him to determine what's the best meal of the day. The service is brusque but effective, with servers not shy about trying to get the tables turned-over for the next group waiting in the very long line. But the unorthodox approach rarely fails. The Famous Nanking Sesame Chicken is a must order - even if it earns you a glare from Fang.

Recommended for Asian because: The chef is inventive and actually prefers determining what each table will eat.

Tom's expert tip: Be sure to order the chicken in Tsingtao beer sauce.

Read more about House of Nanking →


Map

Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom

×