Visitors to San Francisco’s Chinatown are in for both a sensory and culinary treat. Centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, the city’s Chinatown is the oldest in North America and the largest outside of Asia. While there are many Chinese restaurants in this 1.3 square-mile section of the city, none is as iconic as San Francisco’s award-winning Z & Y Restaurant. This culinary gem in the city’s Chinatown offers both residents and visitors alike a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine.
In just their eight short years in business on Jackson Street, Z & Y Restaurant owners Li Jun Han and Michelle Zhang have turned their spot in Chinatown into a landmark. Li Jun Han previously worked for two Chinese presidents and serves as the head chef. His wife Michelle will likely be one of the first to greet you at the door and show you to a table in the customarily-attired restaurant. While the decor isn’t elegant, it is nothing if not traditional and what one would come to expect from an authentic Chinatown establishment.
What isn’t standard at Z & Y Restaurant is the food. The menu has a staggering 150-plus items to choose from, and it would be difficult to make a bad choice here. One of this restaurant’s claims to fame is its ability to “bring the heat.” They have a well-earned reputation for serving delicious Szechuan-style hot dishes. Their trademark dish is Chicken with Explosive Chili Peppers and is one of the meals that has garnered rave reviews from Zagat Guide. Other favorites include hot braised sea bass, pancake with beef, dong po pork, steamed Chinese cabbage with garlic, and prawns with house spicy sauce.
Z & Y Restaurant has been recognized for its authentic and exceptional cuisine both locally and internationally. The restaurant was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in both 2015 and 2016 for quality cuisine at a fair price. Restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list are internationally-recognized establishments that offer two courses and a glass of wine for $40 or under. The restaurant has also been included on the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top 100 Restaurants by esteemed food critic Michael Bauer.
This modest, family-owned restaurant in the heart of Chinatown continues to attract visitors from all over the world. The head chef has prepared food several Chinese Presidents, Foreign Ministers, and other foreign dignitaries over the years. If you look closely on their wall, you can also see a photo of President Obama’s visit to the restaurant several years ago.
Another good sign is that this continues to be a favorite among locals, despite the sometimes lengthy waits for a table. Z & Y Restaurant is simple to find in the heart of Chinatown. They are located at 655 Jackson Street.