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Best Asian Restaurants in San Francisco

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!


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Seoul Garden
Photo courtesy of Commons


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 →


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 →


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 →


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Handroll Project
Photo courtesy of Albert Law

Handroll Project, the first hand roll sushi bar in San Francisco and the first from a Michelin-starred team in the country, features10 different types of hand rolls, including Salmon & Sesame (ikura, bonita flakes), Spicy Tuna (shiso, shichimi aioli, cucumber, gari), Spicy Kani (tobiko, negi, miso aioli), Smoked Hamachi (shiso, negi), Chef's Poke Hand Roll (chef's choice poke, ikura), Creamy Scallop (tobiko, negi, spicy miso aioli, avocado), and Toro Takuan (fatty tuna, pickled radish, shiso, negi). The hand rolls will be available in sets of five, seven, and ten. Chef Lee will also offer specials including A5 Wagyu (garlic chips, shiso, chives), Smoked Uni & Ikura (smoked hokkaido uni, ikura), and Ikura & Ankimo (salmon roe, monkfish liver pate).

Recommended for Asian because: Handroll Project is the first casual concept restaurant from Executive Chef Geoffrey Lee and Partner Tan Truong; they also own Hina Yakitori and Michelin-starred Ju-Ni.

Tom's expert tip: Simple but impressive wine list, including a West + Wilder "Sparkling White" and a Sauvignon Blanc from Dark Horse.

Read more about Handroll Project →


Mission Chinese Food
Photo courtesy of Commons

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 →


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.

Recommended for Asian because: As the name implies, this is a more contemporary take on traditional sushi.

Tom's expert tip: Get into the spirit of this alt-sushi spot and try the Magic Mushrooms: roasted king trumpet mushroom, shichimi w/ soy butter sauce.

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


R&G Lounge
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

Known for its innovative yet traditional Chinese dishes, R&G Lounge is a relative newcomer to the Chinatown restaurant scene, having opened its doors in 1985. While nearly thirty years of experience might seem a long time, in Chinatown, where traditions in cooking run thousands of years deep, it's just a passing second. But R&G's popularity can't be denied, having expanded from one to three floors in that time. Most patrons credit the success on R&G's ability to follow the traditions of Chinese cooking (namely balancing the elements of Wood, Water, Earth and Fire) but adding their own innovations. The simple but sumptuous Chicken Salad appetizer is a great example.

Recommended for Asian because: R&G Lounge has been highlighted as one of the best Chinese restaurants in San Francisco for many years.

Tom's expert tip: Try their signature salt and pepper Dungeness crab.

Read more about R&G Lounge →


Although their space is enormous - three floors - the dishes at E&O Restaurant and Bar are small and intimate. The small dishes in the grand space encourage sharing, which makes a meal at E&O a true "foodie" experience. Unlike many Asian restaurants that stay contained within one specific culture, E&O Kitchen and Bar takes great delight in mixing and matching all of the wonderful influences of Asian cuisine, an incredible legacy of food that spans thousands of years. It's difficult to find one restaurant that offers such a wide variety, but Executive Chef Sharon Nahm never strays too far from the original flavor.

Recommended for Asian because: E&O Kitchen and Bar offers a fresh and inventive approach to Asian cuisine.

Tom's expert tip: Stop by for Happy Hour specials from 3-6 pm daily!

Read more about E&O Restaurant and Bar →


House of Nanking
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

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 →


Mr. Jiu's
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

Created with equal parts intellect and love, the beautiful Mr. Jiu's restaurant could be described as the brain and love child of talented chef/owner Brandon Jew. Featuring amazing Cantonese staples that are made in-house, Mr. Jiu's is an excellent option for diners who want a more slow-food approach to most of the other restaurants in Chinatown. Using local and seasonally available ingredients, the dishes exude a California vibe but stay entrenched in good traditions.The main restaurant is in a large banquet hall, so group meals are ideal. This is a serious place for serious foodies; the restaurant even published its own cookbook, "Mister Jiu's in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food."

Recommended for Asian because: Mr. Jiu's has been popular since the day it opened in 2016.

Tom's expert tip: If you want a more intimate experience that includes fantastic cocktails, book a spot at the Moongate Lounge, just above Mr. Jiu's.

Read more about Mr. Jiu's →


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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

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