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Best Dim Sum In SF

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I'm going to be in San Francisco for a weekend, and I'm looking for recommendations on the best Dim Sum in town, probably for Saturday or Sunday brunch. I don't really care about the cost, and "traditional" or "dive" places are fine with me, as are slightly Americanized versions of dim sum. All I care about is whether the food tastes amazing. Any recommendations? I've read through some posts, and the list I've come up with so far is:

(1) Yank Sing; (2) Koi Palace; and (3) Ton Kiang.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. If you wanted the place to be within city limits, you might start a Chowhound fight. But if you include Koi Palace (Daly City, just south of SF proper), you'll start fewer arguments because Koi is more widely acknowledged as superior to anything in the city.

    1. I vote for Koi Palace. The dim sum I've had there has been truly delicious, the service (as well as I remember) quite good, and -- according to my chinese friends anyway -- the food is fairly authentic flavorwise. However, on Saturday/Sunday be prepared to wait at least an hour if you get there past 10am.

      I don't like Yank Sing anymore, and never did like Ton Kiang.


      3 Replies
      1. re: bruce

        Koi Palace is unbeatable for Cantonese seafood and dim sum. The food is "authentic" and the quality is superb. My parents are visiting from LA this weekend and I'm taking them to Koi Palace for dinner AND dim sum the following day. It's by far better than any Cantonese restaurant I've had in LA or NYC. On Saturday we're going to the Ferry Building of course.

        1. re: bruce

          Where in DC or SSF is Koi Palace located? I veto Ton Kiang it's bad. Perod. Except for the pot stickers, greens, amd crispy roast duck. These items out of a $50 lunch for 2 - and I'm not a huge eater - were the only things worth eating. The shrimp were not the best shrimp they could serve - in terms of quality. The Mayflower on the same side of Geary, a few blocks out is better and less expensive. Much less expensive is Lee Hou (my own favorite for dim sum) on the north side of Clement around 4th. ave.

        2. Yank Sing and Ton Kiang are strictly Gweilo "A" List places, and Koi Palace isn't in the City. If you want something more authentic and a tad more soulful (but not divey) try Gold Mountain or Lichee Garden. If you want divey but good try Y. Ben House.

          1. I read recently about Tian Sing near Union Square (thanks Noodles). I had lunch there last week. It is not too popular so you may have to order off the menu, because they don't have too many carts going by, which is large and has some creative dishes. The food is not too pricey, is fresh and the service is very accomodating.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sharon S

              You're welcome! (I'm formerly nooodles). I'm glad more people are finding their way there, because I went when they were brand new and was hoping they'd go from good to great.

            2. i had some truly excellent and very affordable dim sum at golden river (the place next door to ton kiang) on saturday. not on the level of koi palace, to be sure, but everything was delicious.

              i would definetely go back there before setting foot in yank sing or ton kiang.

              1. a vote for koi palace too, but seems like it'd have to be on the way to the city, it's a good 20min by car

                1. The dim sum at Yank Sing is as good as it gets in SF since Harbor Village closed, which explains why so many Chinese families line up on the weekend. If you order the right stuff and avoid Peking duck and other fancy specials it's around $20-25 a head.

                  I just posted my list of favorites in this topic:


                  21 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    If you see Chinese families lining up on the weekend at Yank Sing, they must be putting hallucinogenic mushrooms in your fun gwor. I doubt if you'll ever see more than 5 percent Asian faces at Yank Sing, not counting the cart-pushers.

                    1. re: Gary Soup

                      How many Sundays a year do you eat there?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yank Sing is very Asian on the weekends. 50%+ at Rincon.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Are we talking about the same Yank Sing? When I work on weekends, I occasionally go to the take out counter (which has "bento" boxes of the traditional stuff at not a bad price for lunch in the area) and always peek in for a quick survey. I've never seen more than a handful of Asian faces, and certainly never a percentage aproaching the 30 percent Asian of the general population of SF.

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            I don't recall the percentage of asian on weekends but on weekday lunches last summer, I noticed the crowd was very non-asian perhaps because it's mostly local business people? however, i thought the food (while unbelievably pricey) has always been better than say, Gold Mountain which I think is overrated on this board (sorry guys). I'm also sorry to read that Parc Hong Kong has changed hands and psosibly gone downhill. I hope that is not true.

                            1. re: choctastic

                              Gold Mountain and Yank Sing really aren't in the same category. I don't think anyone disputes that the food at Yank Sing is very good. Only that it's not completely traditional and it's very expensive unless you choose carefully (which is hard to do, since the prices are nowhere to be seen).

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I see what you mean about Gold Mountain not being in the same category as Yank Sing and yet they both serve dim sum so I think it's fair to compare them and other dim sum joints together. that said, I still think GM is overrated even compared to other chinatown dim sum joints like for instance soup's other fave, y. ben house.

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            When we go to the Rincon Center location on weekends, there's always a high percentage of Chinese families.

                        2. re: Gary Soup

                          Haven't been to Yank Sing is years precisely because I never thought it was particularly authentic.

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            I agree, Yank Sing is normally gringo business men. It's like dim sum California Style. I've never been but when you walk by and see the people and what they are getting served it's pretty self-expanatory.

                            1. re: SamuelA.L.

                              Most of the items I order regularly at Yank Sing, such as cheung fun, ha gau, siu mai, sticky rice in lotus leaf, turnip cake, taro dumplings, steamed Chinese broccoli, and custard tarts, are absolutely traditional.

                              If California-style innovations like clean bathrooms and thoughtful accommodation of non-Chinese-speaking customers interfere with your dim sum enjoyment, there are plenty of other places that are working undertime to please you.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                It wasn't just that. I heard that the dim sum was also just OK. If someone's only going to get one dim sum meal I would have it at another place. Maybe I'll go check out Yank Sing, see if it is any good. But the prices are not very reasonable. I checked on menupages.com and they give you less for more money. For example: they give you 2 porkbuns at a price larger than the amount of 3 porkbuns at many other places.

                                1. re: SamuelA.L.

                                  I'm coming to this thread a little late, I know. But recommending strongly against a restaurant you've never patronized is just ridiculous.

                                  Lest anybody get the (very) wrong idea, Yank Sing serves excellent food. And the prices are a little higher because they are paying ridiculously high rent. Their location must be one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the USA.

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Iagree with Robert. I got back from a trip to Hong Kong and quickly went into Dim Sum withdrawl. Went to Y Ben and thought it was just okay. Still had a craving and went to Yank Sing. It was awesome. I don't care about the percentage of Asian/Caucasian. Fact is, the food is great.

                                  1. re: jimctgc

                                    Caucasians think it is great; apparently Asians don't. I find it strange that a Mexican Restaurant that no Latino cares to set foot in is immediately pigeonholed as too gringo-fied to go to, but safe-for-Caucasians Chinese food can be so trendy. I don't like what I read into that.

                                    1. re: Gary Soup

                                      What do you mean, Asians don't? We do. Each and every time I've gone to YS (yes, usually on weekends), it's been filled with Asians, don't know the exact ratio since I don't keep count as you apparently do. Food is great albeit expensive. But that's what it is -- a great place to celebrate w/dim sum in a nice setting at a price.

                                      1. re: Gary Soup

                                        Nothing to read into it. Real Mexican food is more accessible than real Chinese food. Simple as that. There aren't secret Mexican menus. Can't think of a Mexican restaurant that didn't have English translations ... well, ok, the place I've been going to lately, but that's just the weekend menu and it is easy to read Spanish as opposed to Chinese. I like Yank Sing because it is accessible to me. I'm going to get what everyone else gets without a hassle. And in all my years eating there Yank Sing always seems to have way more Asian diners than Caucasians.

                                        1. re: Gary Soup

                                          I'm asian, I love Yank Sing. All my asian friends love Yank Sing, as do their picky mothers and aunties. Sure it's a bit expensive, but it's worth it.

                                          1. re: Gary Soup

                                            I read with interest all the different posting, everyone entitled to their opinion especially when it comes to taste which is very subjective. Being Chinese myself born & bred overseas many years does not qualify me to be the ultimate expert, although I do opined that YS seems to be in the slightly above average than some of the so called "local-all Chinese cliente" places in SF which I have been to also. Food experience is more than just taste,but also included service, ambience, comfort etc. Maybe I've away from home for too many years, sharing table is becoming less of an attraction to me & does not necessarily add to the experience.By the way their brand of Hot Chili sauce I 've been enjoying for the last 30 plus years & are available pretty much at most Chinese supermarkets.

                                            1. re: Gary Soup

                                              I'm Asian. It's fantastic. Yes, I know this thread is from 2007. Is it expensive? Yes. Does it cater to a Caucasian businessperson crowd at lunchtime? Absolutely. Do Asians go on weekends? Don't know because I eat weekday lunches there. But you can't really question the quality of ingredients and high level of execution. The wrappers are more delicate than 99% of what can be found in more "authentic" places. The fillings are what they should be, i.e. har gow are fresh, crisp shrimp, not slightly old shrimp with a bunch of other filler "crap" mixed in. And, I can eat a ton of it without feeling any impact from MSG, which you can rarely say about dim sum places.

                                              I'm not saying its the best dimsum in SF, even though I think it is... Les you think I'm some food snob, I can also enjoy You's dollar dimsum off Stockton, for what it is... But to ding Yank Sing when a) you've never been there and b) your basis is because supposedly Chinese people don't eat there seems foolish to me.

                                  2. Had a lunch with 8 in-laws last week @ the Yank in Rincon & was pleased to find the quality and consistency unchanged & excellent. Excellent customer service and validated parking. Koi Palace serves over-rated, and over-priced mediocrity. Ton Kiang is tasty, but un-generous with regard to portion size.

                                    1. I and everyone I've taken to Yank Sing loves it. I don't like Koi Palace dim sum. Long waits and you must order off a menu -- not as much fun as picking off of the carts going by. Yank Sing takes reservations and they've been pretty good about seating me promptly.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: walker

                                        If Koi Palace is acceptable for you to get to, an easier place is right off the BART line in Millbrae (don't need a car for this one)
                                        Hong Kong Flower Lounge ..very good food, (won the Chowhound Dim Sum War) upscale, (white table cloths) attentive service, (also has a parking lot if you are driving..

                                        1. re: walker

                                          Since when does Koi Palace not have carts? Have you actually been there at lunch time? Long waits are indication of the desirability of a place. It's obviously WORTH the wait. Yank Sing has a built-in clientele, of course; there are always people who put free parking and immediate seating ahead of the quality and value of the food.

                                          1. re: Gary Soup

                                            Yank Sing doesn't have a "built-in clientele." The Chan family worked hard to build the business and its following is well-deserved. The turnip cake is as good today as it was when I first had it 30-odd years ago. Sure, it's more expensive, but it's a much nicer room, the service is better, the bathrooms are clean, and for me as for many people the location's a lot more convenient.


                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              As a Cantonese, I find Yank Sing's dim sum strangely soulless. When my mother and I ate there, we both found something in their food lacking. I'll have to say the same for Ton Kiang.

                                              1. re: dty

                                                Where in SF have you liked the dim sum better?

                                          2. re: walker

                                            You MUST be confusing Koi Palace with another restaurant; I've been there for dim sum many times and there are so many carts you can barely walk around the restaurant.

                                          3. I don't see it mentioned here, but Parc Hong Kong is one of my standards in the City.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: PeterL

                                              Have you been there in recent months? The restaurant has changed hands and I've heard the kitchen staff has turned over. Would love to hear a current report.

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                I went to Parc Hong Kong maybe 6 months ago for the first and LAST time. I thought everything was unbelievably greasy. The dumpling skins and rice noodles were poorly made and falling apart before we could get them into our mouths. The shrimp in the har gow was piece-mealy and not deveined properly so they had that ooky gritty feel to them.

                                                Another thing that turned me off was when we noticed a child knock over the toothpick dispenser at the maître d' booth. The maître d' cheerfully picked all the toothpicks off the floor and put them back into the dispenser! Horrifying!

                                            2. It's really hard to find good dim sum in Chinatown. Tong Palace on Clement would be the best bet in the Richmod.

                                              1. Good Luck Dim Sum on Clement around 5th?. Very hole-in-the-wall, very fresh clean tasting, very cheap. My 80 year old mother gobbled up a box I brought her that I expected to last for at least 2 meals. I like the taro shrimp and taro chive dumplings and the fried sticky rice balls with pork. The steamed cha sieu bow are great too.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                  Good Luck Dim Sum is on Clement b/n 8th and 9th. We go there when we want take out dim sum only (for a big group at home) because it is not really a sit down type of place. That would be my only caveat - you don't sit and pick from carts, you order from the front. Be prepared to wait in a long line on weekends.

                                                2. I would vote for Koi Palace. Ton Kiang is okay too, but I've always liked eating at Koi a little bit more.

                                                    1. Add another vote for Yank Sing. I've never had a bad experience there ... both the food and the atmosphere are top notch. Authentic? Beats me, and I don't really care all that much, because the food they serve, whether authentic or not, is great. (Which is not to say I wouldn't appreciate Koi Palace, just that I don't find anything at Yank Sing not to like).

                                                      But what do I know ... I'm just another Gweilo!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: djh

                                                        I'm with you. If it tastes good I don't care whether it is authentic. Especially since it is hard to know what authentic means for a cuisine outside its own country and source of supply for ingrediants.

                                                      2. No one has mentioned The Kitchen (formerly Seafood Harbour) in Millbrae. The wait is also bad for dim sum, especially on weekends and their greet staff is not at all pleasant. However, they do have pretty good dim sum (comparable to HKFL & Koi Palace) The room is not as nice as Koi or HKFL but they have interesting items like 3 kinds of chicken feet. I also think Koi has more interesting dim sum than HKFL but the wait is more manageable at HKFL. The atmosphere at The kitchen could feel a bit hectic at times and the service is very disorganized. I still need to try Zen Peninsula a few more times to get a better feel for their food and place.



                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: margret

                                                          Did you say THREE 3(!!!) kinds of Chicken Feet??!!!
                                                          I've gotta try this place...!

                                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                            ChowFun, I am sure you have tried at least Chicken Feet ten ways already. If you try then report back.

                                                          2. re: margret

                                                            Margret, you know your stuff...http://www.zenpeninsula.com/

                                                            I think an alternative would be Zen, same prices as Koi and at least you don't have to wait 1 hour. I dont' care how good it is, i want it and i want it now!

                                                          3. When I used to travel to the Bay Area for work, I once asked some of the Chinese folks who worked at my company for suggestions for dim sum. All recommended either Yank Sing or Harbor Village. I liked both. Yank Sing seemed small enough to me that I didn't feel overwhelmed when I was dining alone.

                                                            1. Yank Sing if someone else is paying, if you are looking for authentic dim sum at a very reasonable price try Lichee Gardens on 1416 Powell St
                                                              San Francisco, CA 94133
                                                              Daily 7:00am- 9:15pm
                                                              Tel: (415) 397-2290

                                                              Tuff to spend $35 for 4 people at lunch

                                                              1. One reason that it might be difficult to get agreement on dim sum is that -- separate and apart from an item's seasoning and care of preparation -- timing is so important. If a fried item like a lacy taro dumpling has been on the cart for more than 5 minutes, it loses a lot of its appeal as the oil "settles out." Flaky pastry items like curry chicken or char siu "pies" become soft/soggy as they travel around. Some steamed items can become hard; fresh har gow take a little time to cool before the wrappers are manageable. Etc. Etc. I look for one miracle in each outing, something I like that just happens to be transcendent due to good timing.

                                                                Clean bathrooms and good tea certainly help.

                                                                Also, the company. I once dined at Fook Yuen with two friends who competed to see who could eat the most items I found most unattractive (e.g., steamed pale-as-death chicken feet). But that was easier than 3 boys under the age of 8 over at Ming's!

                                                                Uhh, what was the point? Oh yeah, much harder to compare these aisle-roaming buffet stations than more typical made-to-order meals.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Jefferson

                                                                  Is that the Ming's off the 101 in Palo Alto? That was the place that my Chinese co-workers would rally for IF we were doing a company-paid lunch.

                                                                  1. re: scabbardgirl

                                                                    > Is that the Ming's off the 101 in Palo Alto?

                                                                    Yes, the Ming's at Embarcadero Road (East side). You're right on about the expense account crowd on weekdays.

                                                                    We always seem to end up there on weekends with friends leaving town out of the Oakland airport. Convenient location. But you have to inspect the food before accepting it; there's little as disappointing as cold vegetarian wonton half-submerged in spicy sauce, dry on the top and soggy on the bottom...

                                                                2. I was all set to go to Gold Mountain this weekend, but I barely see it mentioned in this thread. Was my previous research off? Despite the negatives I've read in this thread, it is looking like Yank Sing may be a better call.

                                                                  P.S. I definitely prefer the carts.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                    Stick with the plan and go to Gold Mountain. It's good, reasonably priced, and you get the whole dim sum experience including the happy din of multigenerational families spanning the whole economic spectrum. This thread began by mentioning three high-end dim sum places, and most of the discussion has revolved around them and similar, but from past Chowhound threads you will know that Gold Mountain has plenty of fans. And you won't spend an arm and a leg finding out if you agree with them or not.

                                                                    1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                      Oh, I see! In Boston we don't have enough places to differentiate between high-end and regular. Just "good" and "not as good".

                                                                      Yes, I think I would prefer the "regular" dim sum over some high-end joint. Thanks.

                                                                    2. re: Alcachofa

                                                                      "Good" is apt for Gold Mountain. Best things are the braised things like the chicken feet or tofu skin rolls; not as fond of the steamed dumplings which lack delicacy here.

                                                                    3. Anyone have comments about City View off of Kearny? I went there 10 years ago (very long time ago) and the dim sum was good. At the time it was a Yank Sing wannabe.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: theSauce

                                                                        City View is my personal favorite dim sum within walking distance of the office--two floors, very busy, with new carts constantly circulating. It helps to get a table close to the kitchen, especially if it is "counter-clockwise" from the kitchen (if that makes sense), since everytime I have been there, that seemed to be the ordained route of the dimsum carts, and if you were far enough away from the kitchen, or towards the end of the route, you may have to wait a bit--watching other tables grab up the best plates before the cart gets to you! I love their dumplings and greens--sorry, I do not know the precise names of the dishes. The place gets a good mix of clientele--Chinese families, the oft-disparaged "gringo businessman" crowd, and those of us who might hope to land somewhere in between!

                                                                        1. re: theSauce

                                                                          I haven't been to City View for a while as it's not my cup of tea, so to speak. Among my family, it seems to get divided views. One auntie likes it for special lunches because of the more serene atmosphere and clean surroundings, whereas her sister tries to avoid it because she finds the food only so-so.

                                                                          1. re: theSauce

                                                                            Well... if you want to dim sum at a clean nice restaurant without going to the ATM first (average costs ~$13/person), City View is the place to go. I have to admit that I never appreciate Yank Sing as I came out hungry after spending over twenty dollars.
                                                                            My latest favorite is Y-Benh on Pacific and Stockton. It is dirty and you have to share table with strangers. But, the food just makes me keep going back. They have quite a selection and huge portion. It never costs me more than $7.

                                                                          2. We're heading to SF this weekend for our annual visit and need a dim sum place for Monday lunch. We were fans of Pearl City until this board steered us to Great Eastern a few years ago. Is Gold Mountain better? Or City View? Where are they (we will be at the Hyatt on Embarcadero)? We favor the steamed stuff over the fried, and love sticky rice and turnip cake.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Susan H

                                                                              To offer a counterpoint, I would avoid Lee Hou's har gau. The wrapper is WAY too thick and doughy. I prefer thin, so thin and translucent you can see the shrimp inside and count them. Lately I've been enjoying S&T Hong Kong Seafood on Noriega for dim sum, but that's a ways from the areas visitors normally visit.

                                                                              Gold Mountain's forte is not steamed dumplings.

                                                                            2. I urge you to avoid Ton Kiang. The shrimp is not wonderful at all. The prices are high. If you do go there I'll tell you what I thought was really good: potstickers, greens, roast duck. If you are out in that part of town go to Mayflower which a few blocks east of Ton Kiang on the south side of Geary or Lee Hou on the north side of Clement near 4th. Lee Hou is the bargain. Both serve the dim sum to order so you do not have to wait for the cart as you do at Ton Kiang. Lee Hou's har gow (shrimp dumpling) is wonderful.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: niki rothman

                                                                                I'm a former SF resident who was back for a few days a year ago. I had pretty good dim sum at Ton Kiang on Geary, but the one memorably excellent dish wasn't proper dim sum at all, though it was offered as such. It was a Burmese fermented-tea-leaf salad. I'd go back just for that. (Yeah, I know: very old thread. Just saying.)

                                                                                1. re: emu48

                                                                                  Here's my old post on the Burmese tea leaf salad at Ton Kiang,

                                                                                  Still look the same?

                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                    Yes. Mine wasn't at all bland, though. i'm no expert judge: have only eaten this dish a few times, but otherwise only in Burmese restaurants in SF and years ago. I used to eat at Ton Kiang when it on Geary in the Richmond District, more Hakka and less (if at all) a dim-sum place. It was one of my favorite neighborhood spots.

                                                                              2. Yank Sing is touristy and yes expensive, but it is nice and clean and the foood is very good. I have never had a bad experience there. Is it worth the cost? Just depends on the date and my guests.

                                                                                I am fine going to Canton on Folsom when I want cheaper and filling or City View when I am at work.

                                                                                I also found that Oriental Pearl on Clay (near the Portsmouth Garage) is fine when I have guest that like a cleaner space. The food there is always fresh and not oily and the bathroom is clean too.

                                                                                My favorite is in Alameda, East Ocean, they have limited menu, but everything is great and the dinners are fab too (especially smoked black cod).

                                                                                Koi has great variety, but the wait is just too long.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: myst

                                                                                  Smoked Black cod. Is it the same one as the one at Emeryville Marina?

                                                                                  1. re: tingting

                                                                                    No, East Ocean in Alameda is not related to HK East Ocean in Emeryville. Here's my post on the $78 set dinner -

                                                                                    1. re: tingting

                                                                                      Unfortunately that place has gone gone gone downhill. Just a few examples: Xiao Lung Bao was dry dry, and we left the tea kettle for them to refill and they just walked past us, service is horrible and food was just not tasty and temperature wise, was just luke warm.

                                                                                      RE: East Ocean Alameda

                                                                                      1. re: badbatzmaru

                                                                                        That's too bad -- I haven't been there for a while, but maybe you just caught them on a bad day.

                                                                                        XLB are rarely good at Cantonese-style dim sum places. For some reason, the nuances of this Shanghai specialty seem beyond most of them (with Koi Palace and Yank Sing being notable exceptions).

                                                                                  2. Dim sum and sushi are my specialties...and well let me say I agree with what Robert Lauriston said about Yang Sing. There's nothing unauthentic about their food; it's just that they are very expensive. When I go with another buddy--and we both eat a lot--we can blow more than $60 there on dim sum. Tian Sing is like Yang Sing, smaller but with very creative dishes, but it's also very expensive. In fact I can say Tian Sing and Yang Sing are the two most expensive dim sum places around.

                                                                                    City View is so-so, and Gold Mountain is quite bad, just like all Chinatown restaurants. Read Melanie's post on their dumplings. Millbrae is always good with the competition, with The Kitchen leading the rest, but Zen, Fook Yuen, and HKFL are all quite good, and they are all certainly better, in my opinion, than Ton Kiang, which is still above average. I just wish there were more varieties at Ton Kiang than dumplings with different percentages of shrimp mixed in.

                                                                                    I've been going to the HK Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant for dim sum in the South Bay (Lawrence Expressway and 101). Beats many in the area, e.g. Dynasty.


                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: vincentlo

                                                                                      Hey Vincent, good to have you posting again! If you haven't been to Fook Yuen recently, things have gone precipitously downhill with the opening of The Kitchen. Here's my post on dim sum at Fook Yuen, pretty disappointing all round -

                                                                                      Not much has been said about the dim sum at The Kitchen. I've only been there for dinner. More details on lunch, please?

                                                                                      1. re: vincentlo

                                                                                        There's nothing inauthentic about Yank Sing's authentic dim sum offerings, but they mix them with some fanciful creations with even more fanciful pricing, the likes of which are probably not seen in China. "All Chinatown restaurants" may be bad to you, but they are apparently good enough for legions of other Chinese who wouldn't be caught dead in "Jook Sing".

                                                                                        1. re: vincentlo

                                                                                          I just ate at Gold Mountain on Sunday, and while it was not the best dim sum I've ever had, it was certainly not bad. In terms of atmosphere, presentation and creativity, I have seen and can imagine much better. But what we tried at Gold Mountain was mostly very good. I can't really imagine anyone saying the meal we had there was bad....is my sense of what good dim sum is really this wrong?

                                                                                          Dave MP

                                                                                          Link to my post about my meal: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                                                          1. re: vincentlo

                                                                                            So...what do you think is the best deal in SF for dim sum? What would be your, let's say simple top 5 list - in order of quality (but let's just exclude Yank Sing or that very expensive price range). Thanx!
                                                                                            (This next should really be a separate response to the original post - but it's here...and I'm too tired to retype it. But it's to everybody):

                                                                                            And one thing I've got to ask everybody, since the original post got me thinking: it, like many others I've seen, lists Ton Kiang (Geary) on a top 3 list, don't you think that is totally weird? Why do so many people, seriously, put Ton Kiang on a top dim sum in SF list? I think Ton Kiang is the worst of both worlds: poor (the shrimp - and shrimp is important) to mediocre (everything else) quality AND pretty high prices. A friend and I went in for a plain, no special occasion, lunch and I am not a huge eater - the bill was $45. Is there some guide to SF restaurants that all these mis-guided folks are reading that lists Ton Kiang as on the top 3 dim sum for SF list? You know, to wrap up my rant, Ton Kiang WAS good when it first opened back in, what, the 80's? But, back then there just wasn't so much GOOD/better Chinese food out in the avenues. OK, I've said my piece.

                                                                                            1. re: niki rothman

                                                                                              Good question, niki! I don't know why, all I know is that chowhound exists to debunk ideas like Ton Kiang having great dim sum, and that there are enough vigilent people here so that raves for TK dim sum rarely go unchallenged. Here's the definitive report, from a chowdown there a couple of years ago: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                Does a chowdown from 2003 trump two positive reports from a month ago?


                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  When the topic is the "best dim sum in SF" I don't consider "I'd go again if I were in the neighborhood, but probably wouldn't wait in line or choose this over other upscale dim sum options" as a particularly positive report, especially since she also said she didn't see the bill. The price/value ratio at Ton Kiang is quite poor, IMHO. If you're going to spend that kind of money on dim sum, you might as well go to Yank Sing, which offers much better quality and a similar or nicer atmosphere for the high price.

                                                                                                  When we had our Dim Sum Civil War screening visit to Ton Kiang, the tab was among the highest we had (the only higher ones being where we ordered live prawns or suckling pig) and we left actually feeling a little hungry.

                                                                                                  Normally I'd agree that a three-year-old report might not be the best indicator of the current status of a restaurant, but that report is extremely comprehensive and contains opinions from people who are personally known to me to be knowledgeable about dim sum. In addition, the same complaints expressed in that meal have been mentioned repeatedly over the years, especially high reliance on dishes with generally poor quality shrimp.

                                                                                                  In short, yes.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Not that I'd ever defend TK (which I think might be resting on the laurels captured by its original inner Richmond outpost) but I would also wonder how "definitive" came out of a what was most likely a Delphi process involving a small, group of jurors with widely varying credentials led by a "facilitator".

                                                                                                    1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                                      You might want to read the post that Ruth linked to, especially the opening paragraph. The initial post is from a Ton Kiang partisan, anti-foodie, accompanied by Derek Chow Fun, RWCFoodie, tanspace, and I can't see evidence of who the fifth eater was. Doesn't look anything like a Delphi Method to me, and certainly doesn't have any controls on expressing individual opinions! I wasn't there to say for sure.

                                                                                                      Ruth's own post above seems to express the results of her own meta-analysis. (vbg)

                                                                                                2. re: niki rothman

                                                                                                  I don't consider myself or my friends misguided. I've been eating dim sum before it was called dim sum. Ton Kiang is one of our favorites. We like their dumplings (although too many of them contain shrimp), their baked and their fried items. We find the "big" items, duck, spareribs, greens especially delicious. We think they are one of SF's top three, if not the top.

                                                                                                    1. re: Sarah

                                                                                                      What are the other two you're comparing Ton Kiang with and where did they fall short for you?

                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                        The all-time favorite was the late, lamented Harbor Village. Ton Kiang, (the oft-reviled) Yank Sing (as guest) were follow-ups. But Listen Up Dim Summers, coming soon is Harmony, due to open in Mill Valley's Strawberry Village -- it promises dim sum (cha gnow) made with locally grown organic and sustainable ingredients... might be a real contender!

                                                                                                        1. re: Sarah

                                                                                                          What else do hou know about Harmony? That would be nice if it was good dim sum, but somehow the mention of locally grown organic and sustainable ingredients, sort of makes me wonder how Americanized it will be.

                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                            rw, you're the lucky "88" post in this thread.

                                                                                                            The same Marin IJ article that Xander linked to for Cici talks about Harmony, run by ex-Yank Sing manager -

                                                                                                      2. re: Sarah

                                                                                                        I was trying to be funny: "mis - GUIDED" as in there must be some published guide that's wrong out there. I ate duck, pot stickers, and greens that were good at Ton Kiang too - but they are a lot cheaper elsewhere, and good versions of these are pretty easy to find. But we're talking dim sum. You and I disagree about the quality of the dim sum. But I actually have eaten there often, and recently, and I stand by my rant.

                                                                                                  1. I was asked to find a dinner banquet place in Chinatown for a summer camp of about 70 people. I decided on Gold Mountain mostly because there aren't (much) better alternatives around that area. Or are there? I actually had a solo dim sum there to test things out beforehand. One dumpling (chives with shrimp?) had some ridiculously thick skin/wrapper. That experience was quite bad. That dinner was quite bad too, compared to most restaurants in Millbrae, Peking Duck in Palo Alto, and the better-known ones in the South Bay (Dynasty, HK Saigon Seafood Harbor, etc.). Hey Dave have you tried Koi Palace or those Millbrae restaurants?


                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: vincentlo

                                                                                                      No, I've only had dim sum twice so far in the Bay Area...Gold Mountain and another place (I don't remember the name, but it wasn't very good) in the Richmond. I am looking forward to going to Koi Palace eventually!

                                                                                                      Dave MP

                                                                                                      1. re: vincentlo

                                                                                                        Sure there are better -- Great Eastern, R&G Lounge, Louie's, to name a few. Gold Mountain is a "mid-range" restaurant that isn't, nor does it aspire to be, in the same category as the other places you mentioned.

                                                                                                      2. Avid Tong Kiang. I have never figured out how it got to the top 3. :^)

                                                                                                        Yang Sing's soup dumplings are quite nice, if you don't mind a little over-sweetness. The other fares are more or less quite standard. One vote for Hong Kong Flower Lounge. :)

                                                                                                        1. Ton Kiang is my favorite, actually.

                                                                                                          1. Would love to know why. What are your favorite dishes? What other places have you tried and how would you compare them to TK?

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: larochelle

                                                                                                              I'm primarily comparing TK to Yank Sing and Harbor Village (which I think closed). I think they do dumplings particularly well (particularly the pot stickers). Thehy also have a nice sgrimp stuffed crab claw. Obviously Yank Sing and Harbor Village are more upscale but I also like the service better at TK... they come around faster and with more variety, it seems. I can understand people liking the sauces better at YS, though.

                                                                                                              1. re: whiner

                                                                                                                Harbor Village closed some time ago. The chef just opened his own place:


                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                  The former executive chef of Harbor Village has opened his own place in San Mateo. The dim sum chef is elsewhere.

                                                                                                            2. Yank Sing is still my favorite dim sum place!

                                                                                                              But, I am interested in finding out about where the chef from Harbor Viallage is and where his own place is......

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                  wrong chef, seeing as this is the dim sum thread. I too am curious as to where the dim sum chefs went.

                                                                                                                  1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                    so nobody on this board knows where the dim sum chefs went? I read something from MW which said that maybe they went to ABC in Milpitas? Where are they now?

                                                                                                              1. just had my second sunday meal at Bay Fung Tong on Balboa and I gotta say, it's really got something. I do love Koi Palace, but the wait can be tiresome. Bay Fung Tong has been great both times -- consistant high quality food, great price. Service can be spotty insofar as we did have to wait a bit for some of our items. I think they don't always do the cart thing every week, depends on how busy they are. The first time I went the place was packed and they seemed to have some carts, but also did orders off menus to ease the flow of food. This time there were no carts, but the place was only half full. All Asian crowd. I was part of a mixed group (one of a few white faces in the place). I figure you can trust the authenticity to a certain extent by that and it looks like previous posts here have been discussing that fact. We gorged ourselves and paid about $10 per person. Has anyone else been there and what do they think? How does it compare to other places? I've been to Gold Mountain, but not for dim sum, so I don't have a basis for comparison there. But I'd say this was as good as Koi Palace though the menu isn't quite as diverse.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: spacialk

                                                                                                                  BFT is by no means in the same league or category as Koi. Comare BFT with Gold Mountain, yes. Prices at BFT are super super cheap, even more so for dinner and sea food. How else can you beat their 12.88 BFT crab specials? For some birthdays, I ordered around 9-10 course take out with a variety of dishes, all came out to about $140.00 (T&T). Brought everyone home and open up a few bottles of red's, oh so good. One thing I implore people to try: their mirugai done 2 ways, sashimi and deep fried.......yummy.

                                                                                                                2. How about if one of the stipulations is that it be easily accessible from BART for someone coming from the East Bay? My husband and I are just starting to explore the world of dim sum and before I discovered Chowhound, we read a gizillion internet reviews and decided that Ton Kiang had the best rating, so we went there. Being new to the dim sum world, we thought it was good, but expensive and quite a trek for a couple of EB-ers. I have also tried Oriental Pearl in Chinatown (I'm embarrassed to say that I went b/c I had seen it on $40 a day the night before and I was new to the area). Of course my bill was much more than Rachael Ray's (even though I ordered the exact same items), and I wasn't really impressed. It was good, but not great. So far, our favorite is still King Tsin on Solano Ave. Its local, inexpensive and always hot and fresh. I know nothing of the authenticity of it, but we haven't been disappointed yet. Having said that, we would still like to have some other options, particularly for when we are in the city.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: chemchef

                                                                                                                    I love Yank Sing and 101 Spear bet. Mission and Howard is a very short walk from the first SF Bart stop, Embarcadero.

                                                                                                                  2. My favorite Dim Sum isOcean on Clement. There's *always* a wait and it's full of locals from the neighborhood. It's small, delicious and they don't have those annoying steam carts - you order off a sheet provided with little pencils... I'm always pleased when I eat Dim Sum here!!

                                                                                                                    Ocean Restaurant
                                                                                                                    726 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-2217
                                                                                                                    * Average price*: $8
                                                                                                                    * Tel: 415-668-8896

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: epicurgirl

                                                                                                                      Is that "average price" per item, or for a meal?

                                                                                                                      1. re: chemchef

                                                                                                                        Probably average price for an entree item like noodles or large soups. Dim sum ranges from around 1.75 to maybe $4 for the special big dumpling in special broth, which essentially is soup for two people.

                                                                                                                        Salt and pepper prawns are probably in between around $3. 2 lobster lo mein is usually a weekend special for around $18.

                                                                                                                        Ocean is our default go-to place for dim sum, and while it's better when we're with my BH's Shanghainese mom, it's still pretty good when it's just the two of us (1 half chinese who doesn't look chinese at all, and 1 cauc).

                                                                                                                        We especially like the shrimp with cilantro dumpling (great flavor, not the most delicate skin). In general, their dumplings wrappers are poor, especially on their rendition of shanghai style dumplings which bear a distant relationship to XLB, but some have very tasty fillings. We usually have salt and pepper prawns, star city noodles with extra curry powder, crab if it's the season, etc.

                                                                                                                        1. re: SteveG

                                                                                                                          Does anyone know what happened to Ocean's We went there for New Year's 2008 came back in April and it's gone. It was the best dim sum I ever had!

                                                                                                                    2. Yank Sing is TERRIBLE. THey try to pass off normal roast duck as peking duck!! Their gai lan is cooked then put in a fridge before serving! The dim sum standards are mediocre, and not worth the price you pay.

                                                                                                                      the only thing worth eating there is their xiao-long-bao, which are actually quite good. except they give you red vinegar with it. and they don't give you a spoon to eat them with unless you ask for it

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: nianfong

                                                                                                                        I've heard the xiaolong bao at YS is good so many times that I'm tempted to go there again just to try it. I haven't found a Cantonese restaurant this side of Crystal Jade that made good XLB.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                                                          the xlb are the best thing there. bring your own black vinegar. everything else i've had has been just average at least to my taste. just my .02.

                                                                                                                          1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                            Well, as I posted previously, I've always found the dim sum at YS to be excellent. Maybe pricier than some, but definitely cleaner bathrooms than some as well.

                                                                                                                            But I forgot that the primary reason I like YS is that I can have dim sum AND xlb at the same time. Heaven.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jimctgc

                                                                                                                              Koi Palace has really nice bathrooms.

                                                                                                                      2. i have to say that ton kiang has always been one of my absolute favorites for dim sum and i can never figure out why people don't like it (or seem to hate it actually). it's true that it's very heavy on the shrimp dumplings but they always taste delicious and fresh and non-greasy to me and i don't feel ill afterwards like i do at some of the other spots. i think they do wonderful greens and in have had very good experiences with some (although not all) of their non dim sum food as well (craved their shrimp-stuffed tofu when i was pregnant). i've been eating there for over 10 years and have consistently enjoyed it very much. just thought i'd weigh in since there is such a negative reaction for the most part. i've taken a lot of people there over the years and everyone has enjoyed it.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: peony

                                                                                                                          We like Ton Kiang too -- never understood the hate-on people have on this place. Best duck and roast pork items, among other things. Yes, non-Asians eat here too!

                                                                                                                          1. re: peony

                                                                                                                            I liked Ton Kiang the first couple of times but I also feel like I am missing out, I think there must be better dim sum in this city why am I wasting my dim sum time here? and why am I spending this kind of money on ok dim sum??

                                                                                                                            The last time I was there it really lacked flavor and many of the dishes that I previously had were not available.

                                                                                                                            On the flip of Yank Sink discussion I ask why are there so many Asians that eat at Ton Kiang?

                                                                                                                            I still am searching for really great, authentic dim sum like I had in Los Angeles, well really Monterey Park and Rosemead.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Lori SF

                                                                                                                              A lot of the Asians that I have encountered waiting in line for Ton Kiang were not Chinese. I saw a lot of Japanese and Korean tourists who apparently got the address from a guidebook or something. It could be that my experiences were atypical but this is what I saw.

                                                                                                                          2. --
                                                                                                                            "If you wanted the place to be within city limits, you might start a Chowhound fight...." -
                                                                                                                            Pei Aug 08, 2006

                                                                                                                            Boy, were YOU right.

                                                                                                                            1. I've been to both Yang Sing and South Sea Seafood Village in the inner sunset. While Yang Sing is someplace I can feel comfortable taking my parents too, South Sea Seafood Village is were me and my close Chinese friends go. Both are really good, but they're very different environments.


                                                                                                                              1. I recommend City View Restaurant, 662 Commercial Street. It's down a little side street off of Kearny). Great fried oysters and veggie selections. And there's a funky bar a few doors down.

                                                                                                                                1. I'm a big fan of City View. It's clean as in Yank Sing clean and reasonably priced. Oh one little secret, if you sit at the front of the restaurant and were unable to get what you wanted before the cart hits the table, you can ask any of the ladies serving dim sum about so and so dish and they will steam or fry it just for you directly from the kitchen. I did this at a company lunch two weeks ago with much success. The manager basically said, "what else do you want?" and I got whatever my tablemates wanted.

                                                                                                                                  Tong Kiang: I took my mother here once and they sat us upstairs smack in front of the windows. Bad part, NO FOOD CAME. My mother basically yanked one of the managers near our table and chewed him out in chinese (I don't blame her since we sat there for a half hour without anything coming near us that wasn't the highly expensive "kitchen special" or something that my mother said wasn't dim sum fare see honey walnut prawns). So I guess they don't treat you very well if you dined upstairs. Dim sum is overrated here.

                                                                                                                                  Yank Sing: I never went on my own dime. I've only been here if I was treated to dim sum. It's very expensive. I don't believe in forking over mucho money just for appetizers. Dim sum is ok. I don't find it exactly great or memorable. Oh yeah, chicken salad isn't dim sum. It's chinglish salad.

                                                                                                                                  If you want cheap, good dim sum, you can try the take out places like Good Mong Kok on Stockton (they have the best leaf wrapped sweet rice & chicken or what we call Chicken tamale). Good Luck Dim Sum is also good for take out.

                                                                                                                                  1. Had dim sum at Yank Sing this weekend and it was good but extremely pricey (with a 20% tip was $90 for 2 people).

                                                                                                                                    Chicken dumplings were great. Beef rice noodle also very good. Duck with hoisin sauce make your own sandwich (one per order - $$$$) were also delicious.

                                                                                                                                    Egg roll was pretty good. Shrimp eater at my table enjoyed the shrimp dumpling.

                                                                                                                                    Chinese broccoli was just ok - served cold. Preferred the hot version I had last weekend at Gold Mountain.

                                                                                                                                    Chicken satay, I know I know, but I was hungry and don't eat pork or shellfish so am limited in the items I can choose and this came by at a moment of weakness. It was mediocre.

                                                                                                                                    Had one bite of the fried tofu with seaweed and it tasted gross. My tablemate agreed and this was left uneaten.

                                                                                                                                    I know this may be sacrilege to some, but I preferred my meal at Gold Mountain the week before. It was less than half the price too.

                                                                                                                                    Yank Sing had a great ambiance, lots of carts and nice variety, clean space and English speaking staff. They pushed their "signature dishes" quite hard. There was a ginger pork dish that they were relentless on trying to sell us, "but it's a signature dish" they kept repeating - for some reason no other dishes were pushed so hard.

                                                                                                                                    If you limit yourself to SF proper, is there another place that there is a consensus that is good besides Yank Sing? The Ton Kiang reviews sound very mixed. I am indifferent as to atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                    1. yank sing on a cold, wet saturday morning beats the hell out of eating at the farmers' market.
                                                                                                                                      sure it can be expensive. yes, the cart girls "push" their wares. so what? remember, the alternative is being both cold and wet. yank sing deserves an honored place in san francisco dining. besides, how many buildings are more handsome than the rincon center.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                        oh, i promise to do better on the soup dumplings. my wife continues to berate me over my inept skills. i promised her i will do better. next time.

                                                                                                                                      2. We had great Dim Sum in SF this weekend. We went to the Great Oriental in Chinatown on Washington. They didn't have carts- but it was great! We were with someone who lived in Hong Kong for 7 years and spoke Cantonese fluently - and he loved it. It was recommended by a man we ran into in the live market area. He said the food was good and economical! He was right- it was very reasonable, yummy, and a great selection. We were the only non-Chinese in the place and had two small kids with us.... they were really nice and we enjoyed it immensely.

                                                                                                                                        1. New Asia on Pacific is great - tastes fantastic, not expensive. Sometimes you need to wait like 20 min... worth it!

                                                                                                                                          18 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: jam_loss

                                                                                                                                            As a cantonese person who's been eatting dim sum all my life. I can honestly say I have not had worse dim sum than at Yank Sing. Went there once and never again... totally not authentic with bland flavors and way overpriced. I can't believe I listened to people and wasted my money on that place.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bab4

                                                                                                                                              Why not consider posting this on the more current dim sum thread?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bab4

                                                                                                                                                Absolutely agreed. I don't know a single person from Hong Kong who thinks Yank Sing is good at all. In fact, I don't know a single person from Hong Kong who goes there for dim sum!

                                                                                                                                                Two things that really bug me about YS: (1) First, they sell stuff that's NOT dim sum in the sense you won't find it anywhere in Hong Kong as dim sum. Examples include the honeyed sea bass, the walnut prawns, and the peking duck. A lot of people just like that stuff which in and of itself is not a problem, but it is very misleading and somewhat disingenous for YS to market and sell it as dim sum. (2) Next, the basic dim sum they do sell, such as shrimp dumplings and steamed buns, are RIDICULOUSLY over priced. Earlier this year I got really curious and picked up a dim sum sheet from them, and I was floored to see that they were not only a lot more expensive than Koi Palace (which is already expensive) but also more expensive than the top places in Hong Kong!

                                                                                                                                                Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with the price if the dim sum is amazing, but at YS it is not even close! It's also not right for YS to charge so much for something like peking duck (which isn't even done well: skin is not paper thin and crispy, there's too much meat and the bun is wrong) when you should be getting roast suckling pig for that price!

                                                                                                                                                Love it or hate it, Koi Palace reigns supreme in the bay area for HK style Cantonese food in terms of both dim sum and a la carte dishes, and this is the consensus amongst everyone from Hong Kong. I personally think Koi Palace is obnoxious and their success has (long ago) betrayed the best of them, but the fact is that the Cantonese food in the bay area just isn't that good or competitive so Koi Palace continues to hold a monopoly here, even if it's gotten complacent and not operating at full potential. Honestly even a B level restaurant in Hong Kong would give Koi palace a run for its money, but for reasons that I still do not fully understand, this has not happened (but I digress).

                                                                                                                                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                                                  Actually HKFL, Fook Yuen and East Ocean were all started here by B-level Hong Kong restaurants and have all had trouble competing with Koi Palace.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                    Not sure I would call those B-level HK restaurants. To me, they're more like C- or D-level. They might have been B-levels years ago when they opened but definitely not by today's standards in Hong Kong. B-level to me are places like East Villa and Sportful Garden, and both of those chains would give KP a huge run for its money, especially if they replicate the decor and setting here. I still can't believe KP doesn't use tablecloths or little bowls in addition to the standard plates!

                                                                                                                                                    Besides, those restaurants you mentioned were started decades ago and I'm almost certain the people who started them either sold their shares in the business or just stuck to the same business approach and never updated/evolved how they did things. People from Hong Kong like Koi Palace because it's one of the only restaurants that does evolve and handle its business the way they do in Hong Kong.

                                                                                                                                                    By the way, here is the price comparison between YS and KP (in that order):

                                                                                                                                                    shrimp dumplings 蝦餃: $5.45 for 4 | $4.30 for 4
                                                                                                                                                    siu mai 燒賣: $5.45 for 4 | $2.50 for 4
                                                                                                                                                    steamed shrimp roll 蝦腸: $7.10 for 3 | $4.30 for 3
                                                                                                                                                    steamed pork bun 叉燒包: $4.35 for 2 | $2.50 for 3

                                                                                                                                                    As you can see, quite a few dishes are 1.5-2.0x the price, and I think that's ridiculous. It's not just that that prices are multiples of what you find at KP, but putting KP aside, these prices for dim sum are just unreal. Who charges $5.45 for siu mai???

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                                                    I love the sentence, " Love it or hate it, Koi Palace reigns supreme" --- and the very chinese attitude that leads to conversations like "How is the food?" "Terrible, it's too expensive!" "Regardless of price, how is the food?" "Expensive!"

                                                                                                                                                    but I digress, I have a real question.

                                                                                                                                                    I don't know much about the HK food scene. But I do see duck a lot in the bay area Dim Sum houses. It's usually on a very large, non-dim-sum plate. I've always figured it wasn't really dim sum, it was part of an upsell ploy to get you to buy a full priced dish.

                                                                                                                                                    So what's the deal? Are all these places "inauthentic"? Are you drawing a distinction between peking duck and a regular roast duck?

                                                                                                                                                    I may have seen walnut prawns at other dim sum places. I hate that dish. I don't think I've seen sea bass. But it's common around here to have one cart of these large "dishes" that don't fit with the rest of dim sum.

                                                                                                                                                    What's up with that?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                      Roast duck is very much a traditional dim sum item in the sense that you will find it in all the tea houses in Hong Kong. This is just part of the rotisserie selection and is often accompanied by selections of roast pork, suckling pig, char siu, etc.

                                                                                                                                                      Peking duck, on the other hand, is NOT something you'll find at dim sum in Hong Kong. Ditto for sea bass and walnut prawns -- at least the versions I've seen at Yank Sing.

                                                                                                                                                      Hope this clarifies the difference.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                                                        I have not had dim sum in Hong Kong for at least 8 years. But can you update us as to whether xiao long bao is even offered at the non Lin Heung Teahouse type dim sum restaurants over there, or is it more of a US dim sum restaurant phenomenon (ditto for shen jian bao....). One thing I miss heaps from Windsor Palace (Causeway Bay) in HK (is that place even still around) were their steamed beef bone marrow ("bone water"), solid pieces of two tubes stuck together.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                                                          Yep, xiao long bao is a pretty standard dim sum fare these days and you'll find it in practically every tea house in Hong Kong. In fact, xiao long bao is so popular that it's a pretty standard offering in the bay area as well so you can find it at both Yank Sing and Koi Palace. The difference, however, is that Koi Palace also offers a crab roe xiao long bao, which is extremely popular in Hong Kong, and even though I don't think they make it that well, it again goes to show how much more closely Koi Palace is attuned to the culinary trends in Hong Kong.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: bab4

                                                                                                                                                    I've a different experience from you, bab4 - my most recent meal at Yank Sing (Aug 09) was quite good and was way better than two of the dim sum lunches I had in HK this year: one in the Regal Riverside Hotel Shatin (which an aunt brought me to) on 15 May 09 and the other at the overcrowded Superstar in Harbour City, Kowloon, on 17 May 09.

                                                                                                                                                    Having spent substantial periods of my life in HK & SF, I must say that:
                                                                                                                                                    - yes, HK has much, much, much better dim sum than SF, which is expected;
                                                                                                                                                    - you do find crap dim sum in HK. The WORSE dim sum experience in my life was at Shui Wah, Shatin New Town, which serves great roast pigeon;
                                                                                                                                                    - In SF Bay Area, you can get good dim sum at Koi Palace, Ton Kiang, and Peony (best in Oakland IMHO) & Legendary Palace Oakland;
                                                                                                                                                    - Yank Sing is the best option in the Financial District. Sure, it's "expensive" by HK standards, but the service & ambience beat any other dim sum place in downtown SF. Personally, Yank Sing is my fave dim sum spot in the Bay Area.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                                      You should try East Ocean in Alameda. I think it must have been started by a former Yank Sing chef, the menu's almost identical.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                        East Ocean has been around for a long time. Supposedly it was started by people who broke off from East Ocean in Emeryville -- I've seen the same people working there for many, many years, including the older gentleman in the sport coat who appears to be the owner. If the menu is "almost identical" to Yank Sing, that's a fairly new development -- in my experience the dim sum has always been good, but fairly standard. They may have brought in a new dim sum chef in the last couple of years in response to Chef's Wok opening up down the street.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                          I'd never been there before this year, but East Ocean Seafood had a number of dishes that I'd only seen at Yank Sing, including Peking duck and I think those mushrooms stuffed with tarragon-seasoned pork.

                                                                                                                                                          Their Web site says they've been there for 25 years, which I'm pretty sure predates Hong Kong East Ocean.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                            Not sure about the connection to Emeryville East Ocean, but IIRC the Alameda East Ocean moved from a location on Webster St

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kc72

                                                                                                                                                              East Ocean Seafood opened in Oakland Chinatown in 1984 and moved to Alameda in 1989.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for digging up this article. Have you finally laid your "started by Yank Sing chef" notion to rest?

                                                                                                                                                                I did go in yesterday -- we got there around 11:30 and there was just a short wait, but it had filled up and there were quite a few people waiting when we left. Service, as usual, was great -- I got the weird impression that I was getting special treatment, although I don't think I eat there often enough to be considered a regular, or even recognized. My dining companion looked -- quite literally -- like a bum, so maybe they were solicitously keeping an eye on him! In particular, the woman I think of as the head waitress came by several times. When I mentioned I was waiting for one last dish, the hostess, who'd dropped by, reminded me that we could always order anything we didn't see coming around.

                                                                                                                                                                We over-ordered like crazy, and yet managed to finish everything except the eggplant, which we boxed and took home. Stand outs were the salt and pepper fried asparagus with a whisper of hot pepper and the dofu fa, which stronger than usual ginger syrup (and she gave us an extra teacup full -- yum!). The plate of whole (live?) salt and pepper prawns would have been better for someone who likes shrimp heads. I thought it was a good value, though, at $4.50 for a plate of six (or maybe eight) huge prawns. The Shanghai dumplings/xlb, which used to be a decent version for a dim sum restuarant, have gone downhill, though, and are a definite miss.

                                                                                                                                                                Still have never seen Yank Sing style Peking duck there.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                              I've been eating dim sum there for many years, and if they have those items, they're a fairly recent addition. As I said, rather than being "started" by a chef from Yank Sing, they may have brought one in fairly recently -- Chinese chefs are a mobile bunch.

                                                                                                                                                              Now I'm craving dim sum -- I'll have to mosey down there and check it out.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                I don't have a strong understanding of how the older dim sum houses started and evolved in the bay area, but based on my observations I'm almost certain they are no longer affiliated with the restaurant groups in Hong Kong. Chinese restaurants here love to cut corners because they can get away with it, but would be held to much higher standards for food, service, and decor if they were reporting up to the big restaurant groups in Hong Kong.

                                                                                                                                                  4. Dim Sum King in Daly City, Old Shanghai on Geary St. or Gold Mountain in Chinatown.

                                                                                                                                                    1. All this dim sum talk...I had to go get some today at Koi Palace...had not been in years, first visit on a Sunday, thinking they might have some special stuff. So noisy, long wait. If you like weird stuff like chicken feet, intestines, fish balls, maybe you'll prefer Koi.

                                                                                                                                                      In my opinion, Yank Sing is so much better. First, you can make a reservation and be seated soon after arrival. I think the dumpling skins are much more delicate. Their soup dumplings and shrimp dumplings were superior. The egg custard tarts are much better, too.If the cost is more, I think it's worth it.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                        The "weird stuff..." (actually de rigueur items) are at Yank Sing too. Maybe you were too mesmerized by the waterfall to notice. I like both places.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Has anyone tried Mayflower Seafood Restaurant at Geary and 27th Ave. for Dim Sum?? Your thoughts...

                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: saffrongold

                                                                                                                                                          Mayflower is my regular place for dim sum for 12 years or so. I think that they were actually better a few years ago but are still very good. They have all the standard Items plus some more creative/unusual ones. Their ingredients are of high quality and the preparation is great. Lines can get rather long long after 10:30 or so but we always go early and are seated right away. Mostly Asian clientele (we used to the only non Asians). XLB nothing to wright home about but most Cantonese places cant make them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                                                            For what it's worth, the mayor of Guanzhou was in the bay area yesterday and went to Koi Palace for lunch. There were three tables full of his people and the restaurant went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure they were satisfied.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                                                              Honestly, that is exactly why I dislike Koi Palace. I'm not the mayor of Guangzhou, and why should I patronize a place if you've got to be a player to get the best food and service, or a friend of the hostess to mysteriously jump the queue for dim sum?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sfbing

                                                                                                                                                                I am really not surprised by HK Foodie's report of the mayor being there, as this type of special service towards dignitaries, VIP golfer spendy types, and regulars, is prevalent in other establishments (and definitely happening a lot in Hong Kong too). What Cantonese/Chinese refer to as "face" and money are the two evil traits and driving force behind all this. The "face" thing is also for fame and recognition (bragging rights). As someone who grew up in HK, I've seen a lot of this in my time and frankly it's brings the absolute worst in human nature.

                                                                                                                                                                On the flipside (which I have observed), regulars would argue that the patronizing of the restaurant (and staff) is like developing a relationship with say, a sushi chef at the sushi bar, to get the good stuff. If you get to know a head chef of a Cantonese seafood restaurant you kiss up by refering to him as "brother" (loose translation) and not "master", and if he owns the place, tip well (and tip the waitstaff well, especially during Chinese New Year). That's like I scratch your back, you scratch mine. What is also interesting is that the Chinese Canto seafood restaurant community is small enough that the VIP golfer types seem to know the managers and the best waitstaff (who change jobs from time to time) so if they are tipped well, they will remember you at the next place etc.

                                                                                                                                                                This kind of "face" thing is what drives people to other dim sum places that are 1) less crowded and being away from that kind of scene 2) almost as decent and more importantly why many non Chinese speaking folk prefer Yank Sing. I'm pretty happy with the Millbrae and Foster City dim sum offerings. Will gladly settle for Foster City ABC, Asian Peal Millbrae etc. Competition is healthy!

                                                                                                                                                        2. I vote for Yank Sing, my parents have taken me there since I was so small I can't remember, I'm 50 now and have taken my own children since they could eat "real" food. Back then it was located on Broadway and Powell and was tiny but fabulous! I think it's changed in the fact that it is now in a nicer location and seats a gazillion people and yes, is more expensive, but the food is unchanged. It is still made with the best ingredients and the flavors are wonderful and are sure to fill you with memories and joy. Go there and see for yourself! I've tried many different restarants in and out of SF and have yet to find better more consistent dim sum anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: married4gd

                                                                                                                                                            This is my favorite place, too and it's great that they take reservations. I think someone on CH said it's best to sit near the kitchen door so you'll get the freshest food so I started doing that. The last time I was there, a couple (seemed like tourists) balked at being seated near the kitchen door and I told them the virtues of their position and they stayed put.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: married4gd

                                                                                                                                                              I had lunch at the Rincon branch today, and they had a price list on the table, so I noted what I got:

                                                                                                                                                              2 taro dumpling 4,35
                                                                                                                                                              3 stuffed mushrooms (half order) 4.65
                                                                                                                                                              cold Chinese broccoli 5.45
                                                                                                                                                              2 chicken mushroom dumplings 4.65
                                                                                                                                                              black tea 1.95
                                                                                                                                                              total before tax and tip: $21.05

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                I've lost count of the number of times I've been to Yank Sing whenever I'm in SF on business. Of course, like any other restaurant, Yank Sing's food has got its minor hiccups every now & then. But overall, it's THE dim sum restaurant in SF for me. Love it :-)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, I've never seen a pricelist at YS. With the exception of the broccoli, those prices you noted are about twice what they'd be anywhere else

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                    I dunno, we often spend around $20 a person at East Ocean in Alameda.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      But I've never spent less than $35/person at Yank Sing, and my experience is more consistent with what other people report. Sure you can spend less if you only want to order five dumplings and some broccoli, but that's not in any way typical, and those same items at East Ocean would be a lot less.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                        I was dining solo. Seven dumplings (especially given that two of them were the taro dumplings) plus broccoli was a substantial lunch. Sure, it's expensive compared with East Ocean, but I had an appointment nearby and was on BART. There are few sitdown places near Rincon Center where you can eat that well for $21.

                                                                                                                                                                        East Ocean's stuffed mushrooms are not as good. I'm not sure they make the chicken and mushroom dumpling, which is one of my favorites. I've either had that only at Yank Sing or their version is so superior that I haven't recognized others as the same dish.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'd rather fend off pushy severs than not have the food come my way.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                      I've seen the price list; maybe you have to request it. I do wish the "pushers" of individual specialty items would just roam and not get in your face trying to sell the stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                      That said, I've really enjoyed every meal I've had here and think the quality justifies the price.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I've been to so many dim sum restaurants including all those mentioned in the posts here. My vote is going to Koi in Daly City

                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                      Why? Excellent question.

                                                                                                                                                                      Yank Sing: excellent quality, little creativity (I don't recall any new dishes I had not seen before) - just your basic dim sum, extreme prices, nice location if you are downtown.

                                                                                                                                                                      Koi: excellent quality, a menu with unusual and very interesting options (pork ribs with coffee sauce and cream in a coffee cup which is a very nice variant of Sam Leong's extraordinary Singapore dinner dish), high but not extreme prices, ridiculously long weekend waits.

                                                                                                                                                                      Y-Ben: good quality, basic menu well executed, dirt cheap, filthy bathroom, few tourists, not that far a walk from downtown, huge authentic HK big restaurant family atmosphere. Best quality/$

                                                                                                                                                                      Dol Ho: good quality, maybe better than Y-Ben across the street on pacific, small, old men reading newspapers atmosphere, cheap, more limited offerings. Good for going by yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                      HK Flower in Millibrae: big, family oriented, good, expensive, wide variety like Koi but my memory is fuzzy and I don't remember as many creative new dishes as at Koi

                                                                                                                                                                      Other Millbrae places are like HK Flower Lounge but with less nice/glitzy atmosphere and maybe cheaper. They are good and often discussed on Chow -- we will go back and try them again soon.

                                                                                                                                                                      Ton Kiang: pretty good quality, pleasant atmosphere, expensive, some variety but nothing unusual, safe for non-adventurous round-eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                      So, favorite depends on situation, mood, wallet, etc. We frequent Koi and Y-Ben.

                                                                                                                                                                      Dol Ho
                                                                                                                                                                      808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                                                                                                                                                      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                                                                                                                                                      Y Ben House Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                      835 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                                                      Yank Sing
                                                                                                                                                                      49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                                                                                                                        If Yank Sing hasn't served any dishes you haven't had before, in some cases that's because the other places in the area copied them. Though they may be resting on their laurels these days.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                          Resting on their laurels is a good way of saying what I was trying to summarize. Yes, years ago, it had new things, but then years ago there was Harbor Village nearby...

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                                                                                                                          Tried Y Ben yesterday, agree on all points. 1:30 on a Sunday was maybe a quarter full, mostly Chinese customers, might have been a more limited selection since they were winding down. Default is black tea, didn't have to send back jasmine.

                                                                                                                                                                          Chow fun, beef noodle rolls, turnip cake, shrimp har gow, custard tarts, all tasty, would have ordered more but we were full. Total with tax $15 for two, hard to beat that price-quality ratio.

                                                                                                                                                                          Y Ben House Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                          835 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Thomas Nash

                                                                                                                                                                            will be staying in downtown SF without a car next weekend. We are a dimsum crazed family, so plan on eating at a different dim sum restaurant each day. I have this thread bookmarked, so we're good to go. The question is: can we get to Koi on public transportation?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sarosenthall

                                                                                                                                                                              There is some discussion about taking public transportation to Koi in the following thread. (Note that the cost of transportation has gone up since then.)

                                                                                                                                                                              Check out the trip planner at 511.org for public transportation options that don't involve cabs. Much less expensive, but probably almost one hour each way.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sarosenthall

                                                                                                                                                                                Koi Palace is about a two-mile walk from Daly City BART. Koi Garden might be a shorter walk from Dublin/Pleasanton BART.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sarosenthall

                                                                                                                                                                                  Just my opinion: Koi Palace is not worth the trouble it would take getting there any way but by car.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sarosenthall

                                                                                                                                                                                    Koi Palace is really hard to get to without a car. Some other suggestions:

                                                                                                                                                                                    I really love King Wah in Daly City. It's a short bus ride from the Daly City BART station. (SamTrans bus #120)

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae is great, and right across the street from the Millbrae BART station. It's probably one of the best dim sum places in the Bay Area, but quite a scene and hard to get into on weekends.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I also like Zen Peninsula, in Millbrae but about a mile or two north of the Millbrae BART station. There are several buses that go along El Camino Real that you can catch, or you could take a cab from the BART station.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I'm excited to see this thread still in use. I love Chinese food, however, my exposure to Dim Sum is minimal at best and Yank SIng is the best I've had so far. Problem is, I don't live in SF and haven't been to YS in about 6 years, so I've been wondering if they were still producing great food. Although I thought it was a bit pricey, I don't mind paying for a pleasurable meal, which is definitely what I received. The fact that I can still remember items I had - the Taro Dumplings, Peking Duck, Shui Mei, BBQ Pork Buns, Egg Tarts - is a testament to their food. Reading the positive reviews has me even more anxious to get there - thanks to all.

                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: karrill

                                                                                                                                                                                As detailed above, I ate at the Rincon branch on January 12 and the food was as good as ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                  I ate at Yang Sing on a Saturday morning in November, and it was overpriced and very mediocre. I have had much better meals there, but this wasn't one of them. We spent $120 for three people and had to fend off aggressive servers pushing expensive items we hadn't asked for. (Are they paid on commission?) At least they validate parking.

                                                                                                                                                                                  For what it's worth, we had really delicious dim sum out at S&T on Noriega last weekend for $14 each with tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Windy

                                                                                                                                                                                    Windy, that S&T bill sounds comparable to the dim sum in Vancouver I like. Would you care to elaborate a bit?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                                                                      Here's a thread with a previous description.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Not sure it's worth heading out to the avenues for if you don't live here or aren't headed to the beach or a nearby museum. And Asian Pearl in Millbrae has been my recent favorite in the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Still the steamed pork buns were great last week, as was the fried pumpkin with salty egg yolk and siu mai. It pays to go early before it gets packed; everything's cooked to order before 10 or 10:30.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Windy

                                                                                                                                                                                      We eat the Rincon branch about every other week and the food quality is pretty consistent and very high. It's pricey, but they use high-end ingredients, have an expensive location, and they are popular enough that they can get away with charging a premium. As for fending off aggressive servers, we just say "no thanks" and continue our conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                                                                          Saying "no" has never been a problem for me. The servers are cheerful and race around so at least you can get a shot at hot stuff fresh from the kitchen. There is a certain management-directed frenzy with the goal of pushing product and turning over tables but it's easily dealt with.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I like Yank Sing. Further, I also like asking the cart girls to send over someone with the precise dish I want when I want it. It's always a pleasure to see peking duck, xlb, whatever appear table-side within seconds: some kind of dim sum cart traffic jam. very cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yank Sing is not cheap. It is, however, in balance with what I expect, time after time. Last point: Rincon Center is a tasty piece of architecture, well worth visiting in its own right.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. it seems like no matter what one orders at yank sing, the total always comes out to $40/person

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: vulber

                                                                                                                                                                                    It does matter what you order, since as I noted on January 12 I got out for just over half that before tax and tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Just figured I'd add a recommendation to this topic, in case anyone's looking for cheap dim sum. In addition to Good Mong Kok Bakery on Stockton, there is also the nearby Delicious Dim Sum on Jackson. I've been about 6 or 7 times, and it's always delicious as promised! And ridiculously cheap to boot. Last weekend, $7 and change got my bf and I three of each: shrimp har gao, chive dumplings, pork potstickers, bbq pork buns, and sesame balls w/red bean paste. We walked our take-out order over to Huntington Park and had a sunny, outdoor breakfast feast!

                                                                                                                                                                                    Delicious Dim Sum
                                                                                                                                                                                    752 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: operagirl

                                                                                                                                                                                      Is Delicious take-out only or do they have tables as well?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                        They have one or two tables tucked in the back of the restaurant, but I've never seen anyone sit there -- it seems like one would just be in the way!

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm going to revive this thread, as this was the exact same question I was going to ask. Has anything changed, what are the consensus top 2-3 Dim Sum places in SF. Location doesn't matter to me, nor does price, thank you in advance!

                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Major_9000

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yank Sing's still the best, and there's still no consensus about that or much else about dim sum.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree on both points. For a different and more difficult experience (street parking, no reservations = waiting on sidewalk), I enjoy Hong Kong Lounge on Geary near 17th. If pressed to state "best in my opinion", Yank Sing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                            YS - I've eaten there sporadically over the years, mostly when someone want to go for lunch downtown and they're afraid of the "real" Chinese places. I agree, the food has been consistently good, but the price is wacky. It's twice the price of the other "nice" restaurants. I'm not arguing with the quality. It's better than most of the good little take-outs, but not better than many of the other dim-sum places that cost a lot less. The nice thing about dim-sum is that you can order with abandon and unless you gorge on abalone and lobster, the bill is usually surprisingly mild. Not so at YS.
                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't have the patience to dig thru this whole thread, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned South Sea Seafood Village on Irving/15th. It's been my go-to spot for "fancy" DS and dinner for quite a few years. I love their DS. They even explore some non-trad ingredients and preparations. Be sure to order one of the fancy teas. A waitress will appear with a big tray of equipment and do a meticulous cup-warming and tea-making routine. The tea is especially delicious, much better than the standard Chinese restaurant brownish-green stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mr_morcilla

                                                                                                                                                                                              You can spend a lot at Yank Sing if you order whatever looks good, since they have luxury items like Peking duck for over $5 a slice, but we stick to dim sum basics and usually spend $20 a head. That is relatively expensive, but I haven't had dim sum as good as Yank Sing's anywhere else since Harbor Village closed (though I haven't made it to South Sea Seafood Village yet).

                                                                                                                                                                                              Here are my tips for first-timers:


                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mr_morcilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                Would you say South Sea Seafood is a good option for dim sum for someone who considers Yank Sing to be pretty average to nothing special? The room is pretty great, and I've been torn between trying dinner or waiting until I can get there before 2:30 for dim sum. How are they for some of the standard Americanized type dishes if one isn't interested in the shark fin type specialties?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I actually wasn't very happy with my trip to SSS a year and a half ago. We stuck mainly to the standards, and I don't have any complaints about the food or prices, more about the service. We got there at about 1PM, were seated in the upstairs section, and were largely ignored the whole time. They don't have carts, which ensures you get fresh food, but I like that aspect of the dim sum experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was also less than impressed with dim sum service. Service was fine until we needed the check.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It wasn't full at 1pm, but I suspect that's because they offer 30% off dim sum earlier and later in the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The dim sum itself is not at all on par with Yank Sing...and again, YS has never impressed me to begin with. The quality at SSS reminds me of S&T on Noriega, so much so that I wonder if they share ownership? Very greasy. Steamed wrappers are too thick and doughy. Everything tastes freshly cooked, but not freshly made. Non Dim Sum items were an even bigger letdown, with marginal quality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The room is very nice, and it makes for a fun experience, but I'm not likely to go back for the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                                    yes, it is a good option, although about on par with Yank Sing. Do try the "special" tea. I normally stay away from the shark fin type specialties, and SSS's standard "Americanized" dim sum is very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: mr_morcilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tried South Sea Seafood Village a few weeks ago, and wasn't that impressed. The tea menu was indeed very nice, and I liked the chrysanthemum tea that we ordered. But I thought most of the items we got didn't stand up to the quality at places like Koi Palace (which I realize is not in SF proper). Prices were reasonable, service was pretty decent, and the rice noodle rolls with scallops were a standout - they took the longest to come to the table, which leads me to believe that they were made fresh. But other things, like char siu bao, chinese broccoli w/ oyster sauce, har gau, rice noodle rolls w/ shrimp, peanut translucent dumplings, and mini soup dumplings were all pretty ho-hum. We were there at about noon on a Saturday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dave MP

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Major_9000

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would suggest you go to Yank Sing. Yes it's pricey but it is consistently good. The quality of ingredients shine through.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. I've been going to House of Banquet on Clement around 10th Ave. Early in the morning you will see Chinese families (I'm Chinese American) reading papers and beating the lunch time crowd when it gets packed. Usually filled with largely Chinese diners. When you go this early the carts have a more limited selection but you can always ask for things (I ordered their black vinegar pigs feet which was not on the menu but I saw it once on another table and now know I can order it). Prices are low, dumplings are good sized. Variety is good once the carts start circulating. They have unusual sweet dimsum like the dyed green taro balls filled with black sesame seeds which we have become very fond of (Tom usually doesn't like Chinese desserts being half Italian). Their custard tarts are excellent. On weekends they start to make fresh scallion cakes etc which I don't think we've been able to get on weekdays. Have stopped going to Ton Kiang - too boring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cyssf

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Had Dim Sum at Yank Sing last weekend. The most amazing part of it is the service. Right after we sat down, carts and servers came over to ask what we would like. All the servers smiled and said goodbye and courteously said come back soon. I can't remember a Chinese restaurant outside of Vancouver, Beijing, or Hong Kong where this has happened.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Needless to say the place was packed. The food quality was decent but not exceptional. This is a great place for Dim Sum newbies to dine at. Anyone intimidated by other Chinese restaurants should go here. Yank Sing helps lift the profile of Chinese food for the entire category.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    We shockingly found the Shanghai Steamed Dumplings to be very good. They probably sell a million dollars worth every month!


                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Foodnut8

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The service at East Ocean on Webster St. in Alameda is remarkably nice, too. The carts are really numerous, especially on Sunday, and all of the cart-ers are very helpful and patient with requests for information and for specific items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodeye

                                                                                                                                                                                                        For years, I had friends who swore by Ton Kiang and I always enjoyed it when we ate there, but thought their dumpling's wrapper was too thick for my tastes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        And while I love Yank Sing, I hate the prices - my preference was always Koi Palance easily for the past decade... until last week: A close friend brought me to Hong Kong Lounge on Geary and it blew Koi out of the water!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The coffee-braised ribs and the scallop dumplings were the most memorable. I also loved the eggplant which is my boyfriend's favorite. Can't wait to go back!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cyssf

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In looking for something else, I came across this thread. House of Banquet has been our dim sum fave for a few years now. We find the selection, freshness, everything very, very good. They have a wonderful eggplant dish stuffed with shrimp paste. When you ask for it off the cart, they take it back to the kitchen and reheat it. Mmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. We're not into the cart service such as at YS, KP or TK. But several days a week we hit either Good Luck or Wing Lee Bakery and bring home a feast for under $10 for 2 people. There are usually lines of up to 30 people, but worth the wait. These places are steam-and-oven oriented and sadly don't do the meat braises or stuffed vegetables. But for dumplings, they are quite good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      For visitors, I would suggest picking up a collection and a package of paper napkins then heading to a park (Mountain Lake Park is 2 blocks north). You can pick up something to drink at the tiny market on the corner of 8th and California. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I've historically been a supporter of Yank SIng, but have to say that my lunch there today was very disappointing (Rincon Center location). XLB was ok - skins not quite as delicate as I remember them and while I enjoyed the flavor of the filling, it seemed a bit crumbly to me. Har gow was good, but the wrapper felt too rigid and almost plasticky. I'd never tried the lettuce wraps and peking duck, but while they were good, didn't think they were the standouts that I've seen them discussed as. The duck was flavorful, but skin wasn't crispy enough. While I still think it is high quality versus other places, I didn't feel ilke it shone as much as it has for me in the past. Hopefully my next visit will be better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I went to Koi Palace today for lunch (I know, not officially SF), and man, I'd forgotten how good that place is. Har gow kicked ass compared to the ones I had yesterday at YS. The roast suckling pig, was just as I had remembered it -- meat still nicely firm, but tender, unbelieveably crispy skin. Gotta come here more when I have my Dim Sum Jones' from now on...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                                                            My thoughts exactly. Don't forget the dungeness crab XLB.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                                                              is that the whole crab dumpling thing you can order? I wanted to get that, but had had too much food and was there by myself. Had already plowed through a bowl of congee, har gow, the boiled goose intestines and the suckling pig. ANd just couldn't pull the trigger on the last thing, but now I have it on my must try list...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes. Tough to do solo but if you go without the congee...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't forget the legs are fried for your consumption pleasure also. The body meat is made into soup dumplings. I consider that and the suckling pig a must.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I know, the congee is just filler... but it's so good. Will have to get dumplings next time. the suckling pig is probably the best rendition I've ever had in the states.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jeez, after reading all of these posts, I think I'll stick to my perennial strategy. When I'm in SF, rather than looking for the places I used to patronize when I lived there in the '70s and '80s, I'll just go where my friends want to go. They're all inveterate dim-sum fanatics, and "the best dim sum in San Francisco" is ephemeral, a constantly moving target.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                                                                                                That and the reality that there are a lot of really good dim sum places in SF and if you go to any of the ones listed above, you probably can't go wrong...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was recently hosted for dim sum by some 'hounds in Vancouver and we went through the same kind of hair-splitting discussion about what is the best, which ultimately comes down to what you're looking for. Do you want the basics done at a high level? A good selection of new/innovative items? Consistency? Carts? Menus? Very few places do everything equally well: some places are more expert at frying, some places have the tenderest wrappers, some places might be less technically adept but use better ingredients, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Exactly! Suffice it to say, those who live in Vancouver / Bay Area / LA have access to dimsum that far exceeds anything on the East Coast. So, as a NYC transplant to the Bay Area, it's all good to me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And the best si fu are also a constantly moving target, so going back to long-ago favourites prolly equals disappointment. Dim sum chefs should tweet when they move to a different restaurant :-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Yank Sing certainly gets a bad rap. We eat there frequently and there is always a large proportion of Chinese diners, especially larger parties. Plus the owners are from Hong Kong. Would love to see a bit more variety, but have always had great dim sum there. Yet to make it to Koi Palace, which has a strong reputation.