As one of the world’s most extraordinary culinary destinations, San Francisco has absolutely no shortage of great restaurants. That’s particularly true for Asian restaurants, with several spots receiving widespread acclaim at the national level. But with the possibility of long lines out the door or having to book reservations months in advance, some of the best are clearly far more accessible than others. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or simply looking for some of the hottest and trendiest new places for outstanding cuisine, here are five of the best Asian restaurants to visit now in San Francisco.
132 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
With spectacular bay views unmatched by any other local Asian restaurant, Chaya Brasserie is part of a phenomenal business that’s steeped in centuries of history. Known as the creators of La Nouvelle Cuisine Franco-Japanese, the Chaya brand has been owned by the same Tsunoda family for nearly 400 years and has now three American locations including San Francisco and Los Angeles. The San Francisco restaurant is led by the very talented Executive Chef Yuko Kajino, who has worked for the family owned restaurant group for 10 years and is well known locally for preparing delicious and inventive dishes, such as his Sashimi Omkase, American Wagyu Bavette and a divine Soy Glazed Monterey Black Cod. Chaya’s former executive chef was Shigefumi Tachibe, acclaimed as the creator of the restaurant’s signature dish, Tuna Tartare, a spicy dish now readily available in Asian restaurants across the country. As a testament to his influence in Asian fusion cuisine, Tachibe’s 1980s butcher knife and is on display as part of the America on the Move exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D.C.. With its prominent location on the Embarcadero just minutes from the Ferry Building, Chaya Brasserie offers gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay and the glimmering Bay Lights.
660 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Anytime a restaurant is closely associated with the phrase “best in the world”, it deserves considerable attention and hopefully at least one visit. That lofty distinction went to House of Nanking more than 10 years ago when the New Yorker’s prominent foodist Calvin Trillin described the small Chinatown business as the best Chinese restaurant in the world. Together with his rising star chef and daughter Kathy, legendary San Francisco chef Peter Fang brings some of his most popular and most delicious dishes to his upscale namesake sister restaurant Fang, yet only with a slightly more elevated price. First time visitors to Fang Restaurant should opt for delicious items like the Famous Nanking Sesame Chicken, Pan-fried Shrimp Dumplings and/or the Honey Apple Prawns, the restaurant’s signature dish. Working next to her celebrated father, Kathy Fang has quickly made a name for herself in the restaurant business, having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Southern California, maintains her own popular food blog My Fangalicious and has made appearances on popular Food Network shows like Guy’s Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen and earlier this year, was named the champion of the Chinese New Year-themed episode of CHOPPED.
55 Cyril Magnin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Kin Khao is one of the newest additions to the distinguished list of Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco and certainly well deserving of its honor. Acclaimed for its distinctive Northern Thai dishes, the restaurant opened with national acclaim two years ago and quickly rose to the ranks among the world’s finest restaurants. Just a short stroll from the heart of Union Square, the exceptional Thai Restaurant offers a number of dishes that have been described as “flagrantly delicious” by the Michelin Guide and includes items like Pad Kee Mao, consisting of stir-fried noodles with ground pork, rice noodles and accompaniments, Kaho Soi, a Northern-style chicken curry broth and Khao Kan Jin, a type of street food commonly found in Chiang Mai, the largest city of Northern Thailand. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Kin Khao is led by the industry-leading food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit, who holds a doctorate from UC San Diego and was once named one of the “Most Influential Women in Technology”.
1552 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
One of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in San Francisco, Asian or otherwise this year was Mosu. Located in the heart of the lively Fillmore District and across from the iconic Fillmore music venue, Mosu is the ambitious creation of rising star chef Sung Ahn, whose stellar resume includes work with such illustrious Bay Area Michelin-starred restaurants as The French Laundry, Aziza and Benu and the uber-expensive Urusawa in Beverly Hills. Although Mosu only offers a single kaiseki-style tasting menu with Asian influences, each of the 10-12 small and main bites are one remarkable culinary experience after another and carefully designed works of art. Look for unique dishes like Burdock bar, cultured butter and sansho, Tuna belly, monkfish liver, yuzu and pickles and a sublime Quail, sansho berry, bamboo, morel mushroom and lemon.
Restaurant ANZU & Bar
222 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Located on the second level of the multi-award-winning Hotel Nikko, Restaurant ANZU is highly praised for its superb California-inspired Asian cuisine and elegant appearance. Bolstered by an impressive culinary team led by its new executive chef Brian Healy, ANZU is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch and also features a phenomenal sushi and raw bar. The restaurant also offers a remarkably affordable four-course chef’s tasting menu, with lavish dishes like Grilled Loch Duart Salmon and Confit of Mary’s Chicken for just $45 or $65 when paired with local and regional wine selections. Also part of the culinary team is Phillipe Striffeler, the director of food and beverage whose stellar resume includes silver and bronze medals at the World Culinary Championships. In November, Hotel Nikko was the winner of the San Francisco Examiner’s Reader’s Choice award for “Best Hotel in the City”.