House of Nanking, San Francisco

4 out of 5 stars 19 Reviews

919 Kearny St., San Francisco, CA 94133 (415) 421-1429

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  • Map. Taken from mapquest
    Map. Taken from mapquest
    by sunshine9689
  • House of Nanking
    by gekko301
  • House of Nanking, SF
    House of Nanking, SF
    by emilesc
  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    House of Nanking: perhaps not the most authentic Chinese food

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 15, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The House of Nanking was probably a great hole-in-the-wall fifty years ago but it’s become a bit of a tourist trap. It’s a simple place with a good menu and the service the day we got there was quick. It was also full of non-Asians and that rarely is a good thing when you go to a Chinese restaurant. That said, the food was good and though a bit pricey for the style, I was glad to give it a try.

    Favorite Dish: We had wok-seared scallops on mushroom caps which were heavenly and mu shu pork, which was tasty as well. One gripe was there was no free tea offered, which is protocol for any decent Chinese restaurant in the States. We just had the two meals and the bill came to $24, a fairly high sum in Chinatown.

    wok-seared scallops were the highlight
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    House of Nanking: Let the owner decide

    by davequ Updated Mar 24, 2015

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Strange little place on the border between Chinatown and North Beach. Hank Donat (mistersf) turned me onto this place via his excellent "local joints" pages.

    Thank you Hank for all the great suggestions. Your website is outstanding!

    Some people don't like it as it is almost a hole, and very crowded during lunch peak w/long waits. And often the owner/mgr won't let you order off the menu - he just picks it himself. But on a good day the food is worth it and cheap.

    Don't believe the dorks who say it stinks, and don't believe the turkeys that say it's great. Go try it for yourself, and again, if the owner is still there picking out food for you, let him pick it.

    I take a late walk down from Grace Church into Chinatown and try to hit it during the afternoon lull around 2pm.

    Favorite Dish: Nanking chicken, Nanking scallops, whatever, etc. but if the mgr./owner insists on picking what to serve you, let him. It can be a pleasant surprise.

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    House of Nanking: Outstanding Szechuan and Hunan Food

    by karenincalifornia Updated Jan 23, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This place is so scary looking on the outside, (and inside, too) if you didn't know better, you'd cross the street to the other side. Then you would notice the long line of people lined up in front halfway down the block. First, you would think this is a line to get into one of the numerous live nude places on the same block, but then you would realize, no, people are actually waiting to get into this hole in the wall. Scrumptiously delicious szechuan and hunan food. Lunch and dinner. Frequented by Chinese locals and working crowd.

    Favorite Dish: Don't bother ordering from the menu. At House of Nanking, you simply tell the owner, "I'd like fish (or shrimp, or meat, or chicken, or vegetarian") and he'll whip up something that will make you think you really are in the Jiangsu Province. His dishes vary each time I go there. Sometimes he uses a black bean sauce, sometimes a garlic sauce, sometimes a peanut sauce. All excellent. All cheap.

    House of Nanking, Chinatown, San Francisco
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    House of Nanking: Definitely Different

    by cruisingbug Written Aug 4, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Both someone from my and hubby's work recommended House of Nanking so we stopped in for an early dinner (no waiting in line).

    I was able to order the mu shu shrimp (despite the reputation that first-timers are not "allowed" to order). Hubby wanted something with beef, and we also were presented with a fried prawn wonton with peanut sauce appetizer.

    Favorite Dish: This was the most different Asian cuisine I've ever had, but not the best food I've had. My mu shu tasted like anise/licorice, which was very strange. Hubby's beef was fried, but with little batter, and came with a side of sliced fried sweet potatoes.

    I did like the tea, which was served in a tall plastic cup. After the tea leaves settled to the bottom, it left some flowers and buds floating on top.

    Service was fine, but be prepared for the "hole in a wall" atmosphere and groovy sign outside. The people sitting next to us, from somewhere north of SF, absolutely raved about the place and said they eat there everytime they come down.

    Tea at House of Nanking, San Francisco

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    House of Nanking: Chinese restaurant

    by sunshine9689 Updated Jan 21, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Very popular with tourists and locals.

    NO Reservations,
    Cash Only,
    Food safety score - 88 (out of 100).

    Favorite Dish: Recommended: Imperial Rolls, Hot and Sour Chicken or Beef in Garlic Sauce, and Tofu with Curry.

    June, 2008 Map. Taken from mapquest
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    House of Nan King: This is a MUST visit!

    by Sweensie Written Jun 26, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Wow, what can I say about this food? wow and double wow.
    Its a chinese restarant situated on the outskirts of chinatown, lots of locals visit and thats always a good sign in my book. The atmosphere is great, and you may share a table with others, so if you don't like that kind of thing, then don't go. Room in the restarant is minimum, so the tables are almost on top of each other anyway. We went twice during our visit to SF, and had to hold ourselves back from going a third time, the food was so good.
    It is a place where you get served quickly and leave quickly, not a place to linger, but thats on account of the amount of tables they have available and the amount of people waiting. both times we got in before the rush, the second time we were waiting outside for about 5 minutes, but 10minutes after we got seated, there was a queue down the whole side of the window.
    Our neighbours the first time we went ordered mainly vegetarian dishes which looked really good and judging from their reactions, tasted good too, one of them ordered a soup also and it pretty much came out in a bucket, there was so much of it! She offered some to us but we had already eaten our full at that stage. On the other side of us were 2 newbies also, and they ordered hot tea to start off with, and they deifnately didnt get what they thought they ordered!! it was quite funny as they were a little on the posh side, and the look on her face was so funny as she tried to drink past the herbs in her tea! i would have recommended the tsingtao beer to them but they didnt look like beer drinkers...

    Favorite Dish: I totally recommend the Nanking famous sesame chicken with squash, and also the rice tower with chicken on a bed of crispy noodles.
    So much so, that we ordered the same dishes the second time we visited!
    The portions are big (for us, maybe not so big for Americans) and the first time we struggled to finish our meals. The second time, i think we had aclimatised somewhat to the big american food portions, and we managed to finish without problems.
    We had Tsingtao beer with our meals and its gooood!

    Sign outside of the restarant
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    House of Nanking: Still a great bet for Chinese food

    by emilesc Updated Oct 11, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Looking through my SF restaurant tips, it's clear I hit just about every beaten path touristy joint in the city in one week and then some. I blame my hostess for that; having just moved to SF, she's been pretty keen on making sure she doesn't miss out on a single must-see-must-do San Franciscan experience.

    It's all good. And of course we went to House of Nanking. I vaguely recall eating there years ago, and doing the wrong thing, which is ordering off the menu and having a decent experience. This time, we let the owner decide and enjoyed a delicious meal.

    It's divey but clean. And the owner and our waiter were cheerful and accommodating, a pleasant departure from what I normally find in Chinese restaurant service. Maybe it's not "authentic Chinese" - it's somewhere between Chinese and Asian fusion. But I don't get that whole debate anyway; I'm sure in China they find what we call "authentic" laughable no matter where it's served.

    As mentioned in an earlier tip, House of Nanking isn't as popular as it used to be, which for me is a relief because I really don't get waiting an hour to eat. Plus we got there at 3:30 on Saturday in, so we were seated immediately and didn't have to rush. And maybe that's why the service was so much better than expected.

    Definitely go with a group (there were five of us) because there will be a lot of food and Chinese food just isn't as much fun alone. And be specific about the type of dishes ("chicken," "fried rice"), you want so you don't get more than you actually wanted.

    As far as the prices are concerned, I think they are pretty cheap compared to most of San Francisco, but they are considered significantly higher than most Chinatown restaurants.

    Favorite Dish: I ordered the hot tea, which has bits of passion fruit (pictured). It was slightly sweet, so I liked it. One of my friends really didn't care for it, however, calling it "potpourri in a cup."

    The only thing we did order from the menu were the onion pancakes in what I think was a honey sauce (pictured). Odd combination, but it's so good. I ended up getting the same thing a week later at Wokcano in LA, and I wonder if this is a trend among American/Asian-fusion restaurants. Okay, I don't know why there's a spoon in that photo, but I can see myself trying to ladle some of that sauce on my rice just because I would try something like that. And I have got to start remembering to take my photos before I start eating. :-P

    We also ordered beef with aspargus, orange chicken (they'll laugh at your for ordering it mild, but they'll still do it) and potstickers - all pictured, all scrumptious. I just can't imagine ordering a bad dish at this restaurant.

    Orange chicken from House of Nanking, SF Potsticker, onion pancakes from House of Nanking Beef dish from House of Nanking, SF House of Nanking, SF
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    House of Nanking: Yummy Chinese Food

    by karin1972 Written Jun 15, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I can't tell you how many times I risked getting a major parking ticket just to satisfy my House of Nan King craving-- am prcatically salivating, just thinking about it :-) The service is probably one of the worst I have experienced, something along the lines of "sit, eat, leave!" I once had the waiter walk away in the middle of taking our order, only to return 20 or so minutes later, bringing whatever HE thought we should be ordering--LOL. Nevertheless, most of the food I have had here has been worth the rude attitude of the staff.

    Favorite Dish: I LOVE the Nan King Chicken dish, as well as any dish they have with their sauteed string beans. The sauce is just scrumptious-- sort of like sweet and sour, but much, much better.

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  • Nan King: great fresh chinese

    by bobfbell Written Sep 27, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    small very busy authentic chinese on the edge of Chinatown. On Kearny near Columbus. freshest chinese my wife and I have ever had and the bill for two was only $27. may have to wait a few minutes in line but it is worth it.

    Favorite Dish: Moo Shu Beef

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  • House of Nanking: Mushu Everything!

    by nocal2socal Written Jul 18, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Nothing to look at, cramped and crowded, marginal service, AWESOME FOOD. When you first walk in you'll think you've been duped by everyone - tiny metal tables, uncomfortable chairs all packed in right next to each other. However, the staff is charming (albiet a little rushed), the place is super clean and it doesn't smell greasy like typical Chinese restaurants. The owner is adorable (in his chic designer denims) and loves it when you let him order for you. If it's your first visit he'll take your menus from you and say "I'll take care of you" - and he always delivers. I hate standing in line for anything so we always go early for lunch or dinner.

    Favorite Dish: We love the Mu Shu Everything. Everything is so fresh and still has a crisp to it when served. Not oily or greasy either.

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    House of Nanking: Oder a cup of tea with berries floating in it.

    by cup0joe Written Dec 9, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hole-in-the wall eatery on the edge of Chinatown. Order a cup of tea. There are these wonderful berries floating in it. Can't remember what they are. The general feel is chaotic, but it's cheap and a hopping place on a Friday night. Make reservations.

    I try to order my meals with no-msg and sometimes if they aren't too snippy, you can get them dry-wok-fried.

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    House of Nanking: Great Chinese Food

    by wrldtravler Written Jan 1, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Locals will forever debate its authenticity, but it's hard to go wrong at this busy and absurdly good eatery.
    The dinnertime waiting line outside this tiny, greasy, wildly popular hole in the wall starts at 5:30pm; by 6, there's a 90-minute wait for a table with a plastic menu that lists only half of the best dishes served here. While Nanking's food is outstanding and the prices are some of the most reasonable in the city, the service is slow.

    Favorite Dish: Succulent duck dumplings perhaps, or tempura-like sesame-battered Nanking scallops in a spicy garlic sauce--all served hot and fresh on shiny metal platters. The sweet, nutty and slightly hot prawn and green onion pancakes with peanut sauce are dizzyingly delicious, as is the Nanking chicken.

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    House of Nanking: Great Chinese Food

    by Skibbe Written Jan 2, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I came here with a group of six. The waiter asked if we had been here before. We said no so he grabbed our menus and said "I'll take care of you." He did very well ordering a little bit of everything for us.

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    House of Nanking: Best Chinese Food EVER

    by Suzanimal Written Mar 31, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This restaurant feels like a greasy spoon/hole in the wall, but the food is incomperable. The owner/chef prides himself on using fresh ingredients and keeping the cost reasonable.

    I have looked in guide books and some people call this the best chinese food in the world. That may be an overstatement, but the food is pretty darn good. Costs range from $4.95 to $8.95 for the a'la carte items - I would reccomend the crispy beef (WOW) and the fried potstickers. However, if you don't know what you want, tell the waiter and he will say - "you want something with chicken? I'll bring you something with chicken." You'll be happy with it, trust me. PS - the Chow Mein and Fried Rice are also both EXCELLENT.

    Many times there is a line waiting for this restaurant. Eating there is fine, but you have to be kind of assertive in ordering and keeping your water glass filled. For this reason, I reccommend getting your food to go. It almost seems as if you get more food this way.

    Favorite Dish: Crispy Beef - wow - sweet sauce, giant whole mushrooms. Just overall delicious.
    Chow Mein - just really good
    Fried Rice - also very good
    Fried Pot Stickers (appetizer) - comes with a wonderful peanut sauce that is almost Thai like.
    Garlic Eggplant - yummy

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  • House of Nanking: One of the best

    by OldManFromOrlando Written Jan 3, 2015

    We saw the outside line as we drove down the street and decided to give it a try for our Christmas dinner. The line took about 40 minutes. When we got inside the decor is entirely unimpressive, but boy was the food great. We had sesame chicken, some beef dish in a wrap, calamari, hot and sour soup. The hot and sour soup was too different from what I was expecting and would not order it again. The sesame chicken was great and we ordered a second helping, the beef wrap was great too. The beef was mixed with something that looked like coleslaw. Whatever, it was very good. The price was very reasonable about $65 dollars total.

    It is not traditional chinese. The meal included tomatoes with the beef wrap and a side of sweet potatoes with the sesame chicken. So it is americanized in a way I have never before witnessed.

    Overall it was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had.

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