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Aug 22, 2006 06:40 PM

Last-minute SF Dim Sum!

I'll be in San Francisco next week. First visit for both my father and I. He requested that we have dim sum that Thursday. After a lot of research here on eGullet and elsewhere, I had narrowed the choices down to Koi Palace and Yank Sing.
Koi Palace looks awesome and seems almost unanimously praised here on eG, but it seems a bit further. Google says 17 mins from our hotel. But is this accurate given weekday mid-day traffic in SF? We will have a car...
Yank Sing's menu looks interesting, although non-traditional. This will be my dad's first time having dim sum and only my second, so maybe it would make more sense for us to have a more traditional intro to dim sum. But now I read post after post that says it is ridiculously expensive. Is that the case? I don't mind paying a little more if it is really good and warrants the price tag, but should I seek out other options?
What would you recommend? He first said he wanted the dim sum to be in Chinatown, but from what I gather the best dim sum is not to be found there, so we're open to other options as well.
(BTW: We're staying on Sutter St. near Jones, which I understand is between the Union Square area and Chinatown. And a definite stop that same day (before? after?) will be the Ferry Building Marketplace. And somewhere to see the Golden Gate Bridge. He also wants to Fisherman's Wharf, although quite honestly, I don't know what is there, and I've read it's a big-time tourist trap kind of place. So that should give you some idea of the geographical contraints on the dim sum options.)

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  1. Sutter and Jones to Koi Palace on a weekday, I'd expect at least half an hour.

    Go to the Ferry Plaza on Saturday morning.

    1. > here on eGullet

      You are not on eGullet, by the way. ;-)

      As for the pricing at Yank Sing, it's higher than a lot of other places, in part due to location and decor. The food is very good. I don't think the prices are disproportionate to the quality and atmosphere.

      I guess I haven't eaten there since they moved (they were formerly on Battery St.)... so perhaps you should ignore my comments on the former location and former atmosphere. :-)

      6 Replies
      1. re: Jefferson

        doh! I meant Chowhound, but must've been reading eG at the time :)

        1. re: Jefferson

          Being punctuation-challenged myself, I think that was meant to be "here, on eGullet and elsewhere".

          Anyway, as both you and your dad are new to dim sum, I vote for Yang Sing. I don't mean this in any bad way since I'm no expert myself, but you probably wouldn't notice the nuances that would be required to drive down a less than attractive part of the Penninsula.

          Yank Sing makes wonderful dim sum in a beautiful restaurant that is a block from the Ferry Building. They have Asian and non-Asian customers and are very nice to non-Asians. As to the price, it depends on what you order and how much. You could expect to spend between $20 - $40 per person, and can be very happy in the $20 range.

          The food has always been super delicious in my experience. Get the sesame balls and egg custard tarts for dessert. I like the little goldfish dumpling because they are ... cute ... which should get me thrown of the dim sum discussions by the hoi poloi.

          Alot of the controversy with dim sum comes from people who eat it alot. Sometimes I just don't want to be bothered having to deal with the attitude in some Chinese places if you are not Asian. I like going to Yank Sing where I'm always made to feel comfortable and welcome. It is traditional dim sum with a few dishes that are more creative, but we are not talking wildly inventive or different.

          You and your dad can always walk through Chinatown at a different time and have some of the dim sum items at the various Chinese bakeries. Many of the same items as the dim sum restaurants you mention for very inexpensive prices. Just use your eyes for what looks good and point to it.

          As to Fisherman's Wharf, well what will your friends say if you don't at least walk through it ... take the cable car there from Union Sqaure and then take a vintage street car from the Wharf to the Ferry Building. The sea lions at Pier 39 are fun. I'm not sure if it is open, but the Maritime museum is great. The rest is carny shlock. Nice views though.

          Here's a recent Chow Digest mention of the best places to eat at the Wharf if your dad really wants to eat there ... However, it would be better to tour through the wharf and get your fish experience at Tadich on California in the Financial District.

          Just don't order the clam chowder in a sourdough bowl at the wharf. It's canned and locals eat that as often as Rice-a-roni. If you must eat canned clam chowder, go to Swan's Oyster Bar where they add clam juice to it and serve it in a normal bowl.

          Hope you'll report back about where you ate.

          1. re: rworange

            SF street cars are trolley cars (trolley refers to the connector between the top of the vehicle and the electric power line), so I'm confused by the distinction you're making between the two.

            I agree with your analysis of Yank Sing (and furthermore, think the madhouse-like atmosphere at Koi Palace is rather intimidating for a newbie). If you're looking for dim sum that tastes good in an atmosphere that's friendly to newbies and "gringos," then it's a fine choice. But if what you're looking for is a more "eating like Chinese people" experience, then I think a place like Gold Mountain would fit the bill better.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Thanks, I meant cable car and changed it in the above post.

              Gold Mountain would be in Chinatown

              644 Broadway, San Francisco 94133
              Btwn Stockton St & Columbus Ave

              I don't pay alot of attention to the dim sum reports. Do they have carts or is it off a menu?

              1. re: rworange

                Carts. Menus are pretty hard to deal with unless you know what the different dim sum items are (and the various ways they can be described on a menu).

                I figured you meant cable car. I was just giving you a hard time because you're lived here long enough to know better! :-)

            2. re: rworange

              It's the cable car that goes from Union Square to the wharf.

          2. Ton Kiang is a great option if you're willing to go a little farther out (it's on Geary at 22nd ave, about 20 minutes from your hotel). It's right by the best views of Golden Gate Bridge though, so it's a good starting point for exploring the Bridge.

            The dim sum is delicious and the wait shouldn't be too bad during the week.

            2 Replies
            1. re: beedub

              I wouldn't call that location right by the Golden Gate Bridge or have anyone think that location will offer any type of view. Yes, it is a closer drive that Chinatown, but it is not exactly walkable.

              1. re: rworange

                huh? Tom Kiang is most definitely *not* a closer drive to the OP's location at Sutter and Jones...oh, do you mean closer to GG Bridge than Yank Sing is to Chinatown???

                Ok, I am really confused.....but then, you did say you were punctuation challenged.. :-)

                (just teasing RW, you know I love your posts...)

                For the OP: I'd agree with Yank Sing between the two, although I love Koi Palace it will take longer than 17 minutes. Free parking though...No reason to drive to Tom Kiang, IMO.

            2. Yank Sing is fine price-wise if you don't load up on the special items. It's no worse than other nice lunch spots in SF. It's just that some of us are used to spending no more than $15 for dim sum and take offense to having to spend more than that. While Koi Palace is very good, I see no good reason to drive all the way out to Daly City.

              1. I've eaten at Yank Sing and Koi Palace several times. They're both good. In your situation I would advise Yank Sing as it's a pleasent dining experience and much more convinient to your location.

                Another alternative is City View, Good choices, nice room, but not quite as fancy as Yank Sing. A lot of office workers eat there as it's kind of on the border between Chinatown and the Financial Dist. A bit closer to your hotel.

                If I had my choice of the two I'd pick Yank Sing but City View is quite good as well.