The long-awaited, much-anticipated, biggest-thing-to-happen-to-Chinatown-in-decades project from restaurateur George Chen (Shanghai 1930) is finally opening its doors this week, and it's called China Live (644 Broadway). The opening was initially set for last week, as discussed last month, but that's been pushed to Wednesday, March 1, with only the first floor components, including a 120-seat Market Restaurant, opening for now. The main level also includes a flower stand, a cocktail bar, a retail marketplace, and a tea lounge called Oolong Cafe.
The ambitious, multi-floor project has been in the works for nearly three years and under construction for two, and will ultimately include a fine-dining restaurant called Eight Tables and cocktail lounge on the second floor, and a banquet space on the third floor, but those remain still very much under construction as the Chronicle reported last week. Also, possibly further down the line, there's talk of a rooftop bar as well.
For now, booze-wise, there is just Bar Central, and as Eater reports (along with many pretty photos), consulting on the bar program is former Cantina owner Duggan McDonnell. Chinatown-inspired cocktails include things like Shanghai Kelly’s Bad Bad Pisco Punch (Pisco, pineapple rum, lime, pineapple, blue curaçao, gunpowder green tea, Falernum-spiced liqueur, orange bitters, ginger beer), and the Rooster King (vodka, cognac, lime, five spice malt syrup, plum vinegar, dragonfruit tea, and a spirit called Kweichow moutai, made from fermented sorghum, dried hawthorn, and starfruit vinegar).
The Market Restaurant occupies the biggest portion of the main level, and Chen promises to be in the kitchen every day to start alongside director of culinary operations Joey Altman and chef de cuisine Robin Lin, who moved from Taiwan to work on the project. The daily changing menu is set to include dim sum, Chinese barbecue, soups, salads, noodles, rice bowls, seafood, stir fries, and dessert, and Chen says that average tickets should be between $20 and $30, including a beer.
Rounding out the "Chinese Eataly" concept is the retail market, offering specialty items like teas imported from China by Chen himself, ceramics, whiskey barrel-aged fish sauce, and dried noodles and rice.
Above, some photos of the space from Friday's big opening bash.
China Live - 644 Broadway between Grant and Stockton - Opening March 1 at 5 p.m. Regular retail hours will begin at 11 a.m., with Oolong Cafe open at 7 a.m.