This may look like one of the many generic Chinese restaurants in the Richmond District, but they have some unusual seafood in their live tanks, like longneck clam and Alaskan king crab along with Dungeness crab, Maine lobster, and various kinds of fish. The live spot prawns are the stars here — you’ll find them at popular places like Koi Palace in Daly City and or Great Eastern in San Francisco’s Chinatown, but at China First the price is far more reasonable. The best preparation is steamed whole; suck the juices from the head and dip the body in jalapeño soy sauce. Other Chinese staples like walnut prawns, salt-and-pepper chicken wings, sweet-and-sour spareribs, and Peking duck, are also good.
Tip: Look for lobster and crab specials starting at $15 in handwritten signs on the wall.
Not to Miss: Steamed spot prawns, longneck clam two ways (choose from sashimi, soup with bitter greens, salt and pepper, or stir fry), snails in black bean sauce (seasonal), deep-fried sand dabs, rock cod two ways, beef tendon clay pot.
336 Clement Street (at Fifth)