SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A new marketplace called China Live has opened its doors in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
The complex is on Broadway between Stockton and Columbus and it’s the talk of the town. It’s a project three years in the making, and now all eyes are on China Live.
Tourists will come because it’s a fascinating place to visit, but locals are very important.
Founder and world-renowned executive chef George Chen promises the 30,000 square-foot food, drink and retail emporium will be like nothing Chinatown has ever seen.
Many hope it will revitalize the world famous tourist destination that’s been criticized for losing its rich culture among a sea of souvenir shops.
The fusion between old and new, San Francisco and Chinatown, is clear around every corner.
From the grab and go tea cafe juxtaposed with a traditional tea room in back, to the painting that greets you when you walk in.
“I think this is the perfect place to kind of bridge the cultures across the oceans and the past to the present and future,” Chen said.
The cuisine itself is authentic Chinese. There’s even a traditional ceramic cauldron that dates back 1,000 years. Chen believes it’s the only one in the U.S.
There are eight food stations intended to serve as a demonstration of traditional Chinese cooking and they’re as much entertainment as cuisine.
And in true San Francisco fashion, the food is farm to table.
“First Chinese menu that changes daily. It’s hyper seasonal. If I see a little old lady shopping like that, certainly a Chinese restaurant should do the same,” explained Chen.
In China Live’s retail space they sell many of the ingredients they use along with pantry and kitchen items.
And just upstairs, still under construction is a hidden bar and planned exclusive high end restaurant with only eight tables and a private back alley entrance.
But despite the opulence upstairs, Chen stresses China Live has something for everyone.
“I expect some of the Chinatown little old ladies to come in here and say I want that dish because I can’t get it anywhere else,” he said.
In addition to the the award-winning restaurateur behind China Live, the restaurant boasts some impressive special advisors. The uniforms are designed by an award-winning costume designer and the lighting advisor has also been an advisor on 18 Super Bowl halftime shows.
China Live is now open and the upstairs is expected to open in May.