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Dumplings and other Chinese dishes.
Various dishes at Meet Dumpling.
Candice Woo

22 Essential Chinese Restaurants in San Diego

From hot pot to dim sum and everything in-between, here’s where you can find exceptional dishes across San Diego.

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Various dishes at Meet Dumpling.
| Candice Woo

Though there’s still room to grow, San Diego’s Chinese food landscape has expanded to include restaurants of all sizes representing China’s vast and varied regional cuisine.

With Lunar Near Year, or the Year of the Dragon, beginning on Saturday, February 10, 2024, Eater presents our guide to the essential Chinese restaurants in San Diego.

The city’s first Chinatown was established in the 1860s, encompassing an eight-block district where the Gaslamp Quarter sits today. Since then, standout Chinese restaurants have spread far and wide, from Kearny Mesa to North County and beyond, cooking up specialty dishes ranging from Shanghai soup dumplings to Sichuan hot pot, Peking duck, and Uyghur lamb.

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Chef Zhu

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A veteran Chinese chef’s latest restaurant is a gift to residents in the surrounding North County neighborhoods, who keep the kitchen humming with brisk takeout business. The spacious establishment is also great for large parties, gathering to share Shanghainese dishes like lion’s head meatballs, braised pork knuckles, and pan-fried glutinous rice cakes.

Tables inside a Chinese restaurant.
The dining room.
Kimberly Motos

Meet Dumpling

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This tiny Point Loma spot distinguishes itself by handmaking its dumplings, often right when you order them. The plump boiled dumplings are available with a variety of fillings, from shrimp, chive, and pork to cabbage and pork, mushroom and chicken, and celery with beef, but the compact menu includes other tasty dishes like spicy beef noodle soup, chive and egg pockets, and side dishes such as shredded pig ears, seaweed salad with Szechuan peppercorns, and cucumber and wood ear mushroom salad.

A plate of dumplings.
A plate of dumplings.
Candice Woo

Ju Feng Yuan Dumpling Cafe

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This bright, modestly-priced Chinese restaurant, nicknamed JFY Dumpling Cafe or just Dumpling Cafe, features a beautiful wooden pagoda indoors with a centerpiece table underneath. Menu highlights include a gorgeous signature xiao long bao basket with seven colorful flavors, including original pork, salted egg yolk, cheese, and black truffle. Other crowd-pleasing dishes range from boiled dumplings (pork or chicken) to shrimp and pineapple fried rice and beef chow mein. 

Signature Xiao Long Bao Dumplings at Ju Feng Yuan Dumpling Cafe
Signature Xiao Long Bao Dumplings at Ju Feng Yuan Dumpling Cafe
Helen I. Hwang

Taste of Hunan 湘村人家

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This Scripps Ranch establishment offers a wide range of traditional Hunan specialties, along with comfort food favorites like shrimp fried rice. The fish fillet with pickled vegetables topped with sliced hot peppers and scallions along with the tender beef and broccoli are popular. Another popular item is the marinated lamb with cumin, served on a sizzling iron plate to keep the meat piping hot and crispy. 

Cumin lamb
Taste of Hunan.
Helen I. Hwang

Golden Island

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This Mira Mesa restaurant has undergone a revival with Chinese banquet specialties, dim sum, and regular jazz performances and recently expanded with a second Chinese restaurant, Diamond Palace, in the College Area. Its all-day dim sum includes all the greatest hits, like pork siu mai and shrimp har gow dumplings; expect lines for weekend dim sum but they take reservations for parties of eight or more. 

dim sum dishes
Dim sum
Helen I. Hwang

Din Tai Fung

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The legendary soup dumpling restaurant from Taiwan lives up to its global reputation in the Westfield UTC mall. Diners can marvel at the rigorous dumpling-making process in the kitchen window when they first walk into the dumpling mecca. Pair the Kurobuta pork soup dumplings (also called xiao long biao or XLB) with the pear lychee martini made with whole lychees. Chicken xiao long biao has also been added to the menu as an alternative. Cap off the meal with the unforgettable moist chocolate XLB for dessert. From February 8 through February 12, in honor of Lunar New Year, the restaurant will be giving away auspicious red envelopes that include the gift of a free soy noodle appetizer, with one lucky guest winning special VIP concierge service for the rest of 2024.

Kurobuta pork soup dumplings
Kurobuta pork soup dumplings
Din Tai Fung

Haidilao Hotpot San Diego

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The UTC outpost of this hugely-popular chain specializes in a personalized, entertaining customer experience. To start, the server prepares a bowl of soup for each diner to taste; you can choose up to four bases for your table, from Sichuan spicy to tomato soup. The Dancing Noodle dish is hand-pulled at your table by an expert Dancing Noodle Master, dressed in a traditional Chinese costume with an entertaining face-changing mask. Trained in Taiwan, he performs throughout the restaurant and he even lets you try on his headdress and flutter the fan.

Hot pot at HaiDiLao
Haidilao Hotpot.
Stefanie Tuder/Eater

Qin West Noodle

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Branching out from Los Angeles, the noodle joint focuses on provincial dishes not commonly found in many Chinese restaurants. House-made noodles are found in the cold liangpi noodles and hot spicy wonton noodle soups. Their Guilin noodle soup (named after the picturesque Chinese city with looming mountains above pristine lakes) is a favorite with generous portions of tender beef shank, pickled vegetables, and lily flowers.

Guilin noodle soup
Qin West Noodle.
Helen I. Hwang

Village Kitchen家湘味

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This cozy establishment is decorated with festive Chinese lanterns, bird cages, and wall murals depicting life in historic rural China. Part of the Dong Ting Chun chain with locations in L.A. and Las Vegas, the restaurant features traditional favorites like stinky tofu, steamed medicinal chicken soup with hog maw in a clay vessel, and Grandma’s braised pork served with steamed buns.

Braised pork with buns
Village Kitchen.
Helen I. Hwang

Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant

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This fast-casual establishment, located in the 99 Ranch shopping plaza, offers quick buffet-style dishes along with the highly recommended homestyle Hong Kong dishes cooked to order in their kitchen. Along with their roast duck and barbeque spare rib dishes, their shrimp with scrambled eggs is a Cantonese specialty that leaves you craving for more.

Shrimp with scrambled eggs
Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant
Helen I. Hwang

Golden City Restaurant

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This longstanding restaurant in Kearny Villa serves a wide range of dishes, from seafood to sizzling beef with black pepper sauce. Popular favorites include Peking duck and shrimp with honey-glazed walnuts as well as whole steamed fish and lettuce wraps filled with minced chicken.

YinTang Spicy Hot Pot

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Since arriving on Convoy Street this past fall, Yin Tang Spicy Hot Pot has launched its full menu, rounding out the mouth-numbing “mala” spicy soup options with curry and tomato soup bases added as alternatives. The Taiwanese hot pot chain, based in L.A., has quickly garnered a loyal following on Convoy Street. The do-it-yourself meat and vegetable buffet stations give customers plenty of options to build their own bowls, which are weighed by the cashier and brought to the kitchen where the ingredients are cooked in separate saucepans to bring out each component’s distinct flavors.

Spicy Yin Tang Spicy Hot Pot
Spicy Yin Tang Spicy Hot Pot
YinTang Spicy Hot Pot

Eastern Dynasty 粤品

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The Hong Kong-style eatery on Convoy Street gives customers plenty of options for seafood and roast meat specialties. The roast pork belly is a standout with crunchy crispy skin combined with tender, juicy meat. Another popular favorite is the lobster, cooked as you like it: ginger and scallion, pepper garlic, or salt and pepper with butter. The add-on noodles round out the entree to balance the aromatic flavors.

Roast duck and roast pork belly
Eastern Dynasty.
Helen I. Hwang

Tasty Noodle House

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Chinese restaurants from L.A. are increasingly branching out to San Diego, and Tasty Noodle House is one of them. This modest restaurant specializes in Shanghainese cuisine as well as scrumptious plates from other regions. The fish fillet and beef with spicy sauce are numbingly spicy and delicious and the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns topped with black sesame seeds are a must-try.

Shanghai grilled pork buns
Tasty Noodle House.

Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon

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This homegrown popular Convoy Street establishment focuses on comfort cuisine. It’s hard to go wrong with any variation of the tasty morsels of dumplings on offer; boiled, steamed, or pan-fried are all good choices. Choose a drink from their extensive list of craft beers, whiskeys, or cocktails, like Mule in a China Shop, from the adjoining 1920s-style Shanghai Saloon.

Pork soup dumplings
Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon.

Jasmine Seafood Restaurant & Express

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One of the iconic mainstays in San Diego, Jasmine’s longstanding reputation as the flagship Chinese restaurant on Convoy Street is well deserved. Its spacious dining area fits the bill for large groups, banquets, and steaming dim sum with rolling carts. Dim sum highlights include seared taro cake and sweet rice wrapped in lotus leaf. Try the elaborate chef specialties like sweet-and-sour rock cod filet and Peking duck. 

Chinese Rock Cod Fish at Jasmine Seafood Restaurant & Express
Jasmine Seafood.
Allen Chan

Taste of Hong Kong

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This Cantonese restaurant is a branch of Cui House, a dining operation based out of Kunming, China with establishments listed in the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide (China’s equivalent of the Michelin guidebook, launched in 2018). Menu highlights include Cantonese roast duck, crispy slow-roasted pork belly, and salted egg yolk chicken wings.

The Noble Chef (豪記)

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This long-established restaurant on Balboa Avenue serves tasty traditional Cantonese dishes. Chef Jia Hao Zhu specializes in gorgeous roast meat dishes, like Peking duck and roast pork. Other popular favorites include the tangy French-style beef dish and chicken stewed with Jinhua ham, Shaoxing wine, Chinese herbs, dried scallops, and shrimp. 

Kwai-pei chicken
The Noble Chef.
Helen I. Hwang

Szechuan Chef

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The Convoy Street restaurant has been on the strip for nearly a decade, serving up traditional dishes along with modern favorites. Standouts include the beef with king mushrooms and dried red pepper chicken, made with small morsels of crispy chicken thighs spiked with scallions and hot Szechuan peppers.

Dried red pepper chicken
Szechuan Chef.
Helen I. Hwang

Shan Xi Magic Kitchen

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The Shanxi region in northern China is known for its knife-cut noodles and vinegary flavors, and this establishment stays true to the traditional cooking methods. With a toothsome, bouncy texture, the house-made noodles are what make this spot special. Biang biang spicy hand-ripped noodles is the star dish, and can be ordered with spicy cumin lamb or beef brisket. 

Biang biang noodle dish at Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen.

Shancheng Lameizi Hot Pot

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This hot pot outpost, with headquarters in Beijing, has a 30-year history of providing a fancy version of the Chongqing specialty. Customers can choose from various soup bases, including red-hot spicy Sichuan style and mild pork bone broth. Try the house-made mashed shrimp paste as well as wagyu and Kobe beef to cook at the table. The generous snack bar includes standard condiments, as well as sweet items like fried glutinous sesame rice balls.

Szechuan hot pot soup base and bone broth hot pot soup base at Shancheng Lameizi Hot Pot
Shancheng Lameizi Hot Pot.
Helen I. Hwang

Diamond Palace

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A spacious new Chinese restaurant and banquet hall from the owners of Golden Island in Mira Mesa features dim sum carts, roasted meats, live seafood, and other Cantonese-style dishes. Operating in the Rolando neighborhood near San Diego State University, the 15,000-square-foot space hosts two dance floors and two stages for live music with the capacity to seat 700 guests.

Dim sum selection at Diamond Palace
Dim sum selection at Diamond Palace.
Helen I. Hwang

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Chef Zhu

A veteran Chinese chef’s latest restaurant is a gift to residents in the surrounding North County neighborhoods, who keep the kitchen humming with brisk takeout business. The spacious establishment is also great for large parties, gathering to share Shanghainese dishes like lion’s head meatballs, braised pork knuckles, and pan-fried glutinous rice cakes.

Tables inside a Chinese restaurant.
The dining room.
Kimberly Motos

Meet Dumpling

This tiny Point Loma spot distinguishes itself by handmaking its dumplings, often right when you order them. The plump boiled dumplings are available with a variety of fillings, from shrimp, chive, and pork to cabbage and pork, mushroom and chicken, and celery with beef, but the compact menu includes other tasty dishes like spicy beef noodle soup, chive and egg pockets, and side dishes such as shredded pig ears, seaweed salad with Szechuan peppercorns, and cucumber and wood ear mushroom salad.

A plate of dumplings.
A plate of dumplings.
Candice Woo

Ju Feng Yuan Dumpling Cafe

This bright, modestly-priced Chinese restaurant, nicknamed JFY Dumpling Cafe or just Dumpling Cafe, features a beautiful wooden pagoda indoors with a centerpiece table underneath. Menu highlights include a gorgeous signature xiao long bao basket with seven colorful flavors, including original pork, salted egg yolk, cheese, and black truffle. Other crowd-pleasing dishes range from boiled dumplings (pork or chicken) to shrimp and pineapple fried rice and beef chow mein. 

Signature Xiao Long Bao Dumplings at Ju Feng Yuan Dumpling Cafe
Signature Xiao Long Bao Dumplings at Ju Feng Yuan Dumpling Cafe
Helen I. Hwang

Taste of Hunan 湘村人家

This Scripps Ranch establishment offers a wide range of traditional Hunan specialties, along with comfort food favorites like shrimp fried rice. The fish fillet with pickled vegetables topped with sliced hot peppers and scallions along with the tender beef and broccoli are popular. Another popular item is the marinated lamb with cumin, served on a sizzling iron plate to keep the meat piping hot and crispy. 

Cumin lamb
Taste of Hunan.
Helen I. Hwang

Golden Island

This Mira Mesa restaurant has undergone a revival with Chinese banquet specialties, dim sum, and regular jazz performances and recently expanded with a second Chinese restaurant, Diamond Palace, in the College Area. Its all-day dim sum includes all the greatest hits, like pork siu mai and shrimp har gow dumplings; expect lines for weekend dim sum but they take reservations for parties of eight or more. 

dim sum dishes
Dim sum
Helen I. Hwang

Din Tai Fung

The legendary soup dumpling restaurant from Taiwan lives up to its global reputation in the Westfield UTC mall. Diners can marvel at the rigorous dumpling-making process in the kitchen window when they first walk into the dumpling mecca. Pair the Kurobuta pork soup dumplings (also called xiao long biao or XLB) with the pear lychee martini made with whole lychees. Chicken xiao long biao has also been added to the menu as an alternative. Cap off the meal with the unforgettable moist chocolate XLB for dessert. From February 8 through February 12, in honor of Lunar New Year, the restaurant will be giving away auspicious red envelopes that include the gift of a free soy noodle appetizer, with one lucky guest winning special VIP concierge service for the rest of 2024.

Kurobuta pork soup dumplings
Kurobuta pork soup dumplings
Din Tai Fung

Haidilao Hotpot San Diego

The UTC outpost of this hugely-popular chain specializes in a personalized, entertaining customer experience. To start, the server prepares a bowl of soup for each diner to taste; you can choose up to four bases for your table, from Sichuan spicy to tomato soup. The Dancing Noodle dish is hand-pulled at your table by an expert Dancing Noodle Master, dressed in a traditional Chinese costume with an entertaining face-changing mask. Trained in Taiwan, he performs throughout the restaurant and he even lets you try on his headdress and flutter the fan.

Hot pot at HaiDiLao
Haidilao Hotpot.
Stefanie Tuder/Eater

Qin West Noodle

Branching out from Los Angeles, the noodle joint focuses on provincial dishes not commonly found in many Chinese restaurants. House-made noodles are found in the cold liangpi noodles and hot spicy wonton noodle soups. Their Guilin noodle soup (named after the picturesque Chinese city with looming mountains above pristine lakes) is a favorite with generous portions of tender beef shank, pickled vegetables, and lily flowers.

Guilin noodle soup
Qin West Noodle.
Helen I. Hwang

Village Kitchen家湘味

This cozy establishment is decorated with festive Chinese lanterns, bird cages, and wall murals depicting life in historic rural China. Part of the Dong Ting Chun chain with locations in L.A. and Las Vegas, the restaurant features traditional favorites like stinky tofu, steamed medicinal chicken soup with hog maw in a clay vessel, and Grandma’s braised pork served with steamed buns.

Braised pork with buns
Village Kitchen.
Helen I. Hwang

Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant

This fast-casual establishment, located in the 99 Ranch shopping plaza, offers quick buffet-style dishes along with the highly recommended homestyle Hong Kong dishes cooked to order in their kitchen. Along with their roast duck and barbeque spare rib dishes, their shrimp with scrambled eggs is a Cantonese specialty that leaves you craving for more.

Shrimp with scrambled eggs
Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant
Helen I. Hwang

Golden City Restaurant

This longstanding restaurant in Kearny Villa serves a wide range of dishes, from seafood to sizzling beef with black pepper sauce. Popular favorites include Peking duck and shrimp with honey-glazed walnuts as well as whole steamed fish and lettuce wraps filled with minced chicken.

YinTang Spicy Hot Pot

Since arriving on Convoy Street this past fall, Yin Tang Spicy Hot Pot has launched its full menu, rounding out the mouth-numbing “mala” spicy soup options with curry and tomato soup bases added as alternatives. The Taiwanese hot pot chain, based in L.A., has quickly garnered a loyal following on Convoy Street. The do-it-yourself meat and vegetable buffet stations give customers plenty of options to build their own bowls, which are weighed by the cashier and brought to the kitchen where the ingredients are cooked in separate saucepans to bring out each component’s distinct flavors.

Spicy Yin Tang Spicy Hot Pot
Spicy Yin Tang Spicy Hot Pot
YinTang Spicy Hot Pot

Eastern Dynasty 粤品

The Hong Kong-style eatery on Convoy Street gives customers plenty of options for seafood and roast meat specialties. The roast pork belly is a standout with crunchy crispy skin combined with tender, juicy meat. Another popular favorite is the lobster, cooked as you like it: ginger and scallion, pepper garlic, or salt and pepper with butter. The add-on noodles round out the entree to balance the aromatic flavors.

Roast duck and roast pork belly
Eastern Dynasty.
Helen I. Hwang

Tasty Noodle House

Chinese restaurants from L.A. are increasingly branching out to San Diego, and Tasty Noodle House is one of them. This modest restaurant specializes in Shanghainese cuisine as well as scrumptious plates from other regions. The fish fillet and beef with spicy sauce are numbingly spicy and delicious and the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns topped with black sesame seeds are a must-try.

Shanghai grilled pork buns
Tasty Noodle House.

Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon

This homegrown popular Convoy Street establishment focuses on comfort cuisine. It’s hard to go wrong with any variation of the tasty morsels of dumplings on offer; boiled, steamed, or pan-fried are all good choices. Choose a drink from their extensive list of craft beers, whiskeys, or cocktails, like Mule in a China Shop, from the adjoining 1920s-style Shanghai Saloon.

Pork soup dumplings
Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon.

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Jasmine Seafood Restaurant & Express

One of the iconic mainstays in San Diego, Jasmine’s longstanding reputation as the flagship Chinese restaurant on Convoy Street is well deserved. Its spacious dining area fits the bill for large groups, banquets, and steaming dim sum with rolling carts. Dim sum highlights include seared taro cake and sweet rice wrapped in lotus leaf. Try the elaborate chef specialties like sweet-and-sour rock cod filet and Peking duck. 

Chinese Rock Cod Fish at Jasmine Seafood Restaurant & Express
Jasmine Seafood.
Allen Chan

Taste of Hong Kong

This Cantonese restaurant is a branch of Cui House, a dining operation based out of Kunming, China with establishments listed in the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide (China’s equivalent of the Michelin guidebook, launched in 2018). Menu highlights include Cantonese roast duck, crispy slow-roasted pork belly, and salted egg yolk chicken wings.

The Noble Chef (豪記)

This long-established restaurant on Balboa Avenue serves tasty traditional Cantonese dishes. Chef Jia Hao Zhu specializes in gorgeous roast meat dishes, like Peking duck and roast pork. Other popular favorites include the tangy French-style beef dish and chicken stewed with Jinhua ham, Shaoxing wine, Chinese herbs, dried scallops, and shrimp. 

Kwai-pei chicken
The Noble Chef.
Helen I. Hwang

Szechuan Chef

The Convoy Street restaurant has been on the strip for nearly a decade, serving up traditional dishes along with modern favorites. Standouts include the beef with king mushrooms and dried red pepper chicken, made with small morsels of crispy chicken thighs spiked with scallions and hot Szechuan peppers.

Dried red pepper chicken
Szechuan Chef.
Helen I. Hwang

Shan Xi Magic Kitchen

The Shanxi region in northern China is known for its knife-cut noodles and vinegary flavors, and this establishment stays true to the traditional cooking methods. With a toothsome, bouncy texture, the house-made noodles are what make this spot special. Biang biang spicy hand-ripped noodles is the star dish, and can be ordered with spicy cumin lamb or beef brisket.