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Jun 3, 1999 04:53 PM

dim sum in SF

  • k

I'm going to be in San Francisco in July and I would love to have some excellent dim sum while I'm there. I've grown up eating NYC dim sum, and I would love an equal if not better experience.

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  1. Go to Ton Kiang on Geary (near 22nd Avenue). It is the best dim sum I have ever had, hands down. They have loads
    of dishes I have never seen anywhere else, and during two hours I spent there, I never saw anything twice.

    I have been dreaming of Ton Kiang ever since, and have even seriously contemplated a trip to SF just so I can go there

    Anyone know a place that comes close in L.A.? I have been searching with no success. Help!

    12 Replies
    1. re: Jane Tunks
      jonathan gold

      The two hands-down best places for dim sum in L.A. are Empress Pavilion in Chinatown and Harbor Village in Monterey Park, each of which is a grand, massive, marble-encrusted HK-affiliated banquet palace that moves a thousand people through on weekend mornings.

      If your idea of dim sum is a little inclusive, the Taiwanese breakfasts at Yung Ho in San Gabriel is swell for soy milk and such, and JZY in San Gabriel, a new branch of a century-old Beijing cafe, has exquisite Beijing-style snacks.

      1. re: jonathan gold

        Jane: I, too, have been seduced by the outstanding
        charms of Ton Kiang. I would also recommend Yank Sing
        for excellent, familiar Hong Kong-style dim sum.

        1. re: Aleece

          Yank Sing is somewhat more expensive than the other
          Chinese dim sum places, and not as good. And I think
          it is fast heading downhill (as with Harbour
          Village). Ton Kiang is still the best bet.

        2. re: jonathan gold
          Tom Armitage

          I know that Jonathan and other L.A. food critics have
          had lots of good things to say about the dim sum at
          Harbor Village, but my experience there yesterday was
          disappointing. The selection was limited. Even
          standards like lo bak ko were not to be had, much less
          crisp-skinned suckling pig. Some items were luke warm,
          and seemed like they had been on the cart a bit too
          long. Otherwise, quality was good, but no better than
          the other Monterey Park dim sum palaces like Ocean Star
          and NBC, which in my recent experiences offered a much
          wider selection of items that seemed fresher from the
          kitchen. I'd be interested comments from other
          ChowHounds on the Los Angeles dim sum scene to see if I
          just caught Harbor Village on an off day, or if,
          perhaps, the place is slipping.

          1. re: Tom Armitage

            Tom, I think there is a problem with Harbour Village.
            You didn't catch them on an off day. I have not been
            to this Harbour Village, but was at the one in San
            Francisco (I believe they are part of the same group)
            last year. I had a terribly disappointing dim sum
            lunch there. I think it's time to look elsewhere.

            1. re: Gary Cheong

              There is a substantial problem at the Harbor Village in Embarcadero Center, and has been for years. The Monterey Park one has always been pretty good, although a mobbed holiday weekend may not have found it at its best.

              1. re: j gold
                Tom Armitage

                Thanks, Gary and Jonathan. It will be difficult to
                persuade my wife to return to Harbor Village ("why
                should we go there when we've had better dim sum
                elsewhere?"), but I'll try to give it another chance
                or two. I'm not sure about the "mobbed-holiday-
                weekend" rationale, Jonathan. My experience at all the
                major L.A. dim sum palaces on any given Saturday or
                Sunday is that they are very busy, with a reasonably
                substantial wait for a table. Even under the usual
                crowded weekend conditions, I've had some wonderful dim
                sum food at Empress Pavilion, Ocean Star, and NBC, and,
                a small notch down, at Regal Seafood in Torrance. The
                crowd and the wait at Harbor Village last Monday didn't
                seem out of the ordinary.

                1. re: Tom Armitage

                  Good dim sum houses are always mobbed. But still--there's something about the third day of a three-day weekend that always seems specifically to bring out the worst in dim sum restaurants--perhaps because they always run out of stuff that there's been no time to replenish; perhaps because they're dead on their (chicken) feet. I can't tell you how many Memorial Days or Labor Days I've shown up to ABC or Seaworld and found nothing but fried taro and those weird stewed pig tubes. When I don't get an order of dofu fa, I'm a very cranky fellow.

                  1. re: j gold

                    The late response to your post, Jonathan, is due to
                    the fact that I've been in New Mexico, partly to learn
                    more about Anasazi culture, and partly to find the
                    ultimate bowl of New Mexico Green. Anyway, your
                    response is intriguing. I'll try putting it to the
                    test. As you could tell, my response to my last
                    experience at Harbor House (Monterey Park) was
                    definitely "cranky."

                    1. re: Tom Armitage

                      A P.S. to my previous post: I did have dofu fa at my
                      last visit to Harbor Village in Monterey Park, and it
                      was excellent. But, alas, not enough to assuage my
                      general crankiness over the meagerness of the rest of
                      the offerings.

                      1. re: Tom Armitage

                        Just had a terrific dim sum lunch at Park Hong Kong Restaurant on Geary and 18th, used to be called Hong Kong Flower Garden. Highlights included sweet pork buns (if better sense hadn't restrained me I could have eaten five or six, instead of one and a half); fish cakes, sticky rice, pork-stuffed eggplant, dumplings, and oh so much more... an amazing lobster special passed by the table but we were so overcrowded with dishes at that point we didn't get a chance to try it.

                        1. re: Rachel Hope

                          My favorite dim sum parlor is Yank Sing on Battery St.
                          It's huge (2 floors), noisy & jammed but the food is super. They have never run out of anything when I've been there. They have another location on Stevenson St. Another good sign..the place is always filled with Chinese people and very few tourists.