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Dim Sum in San Diego

Does it exist?

I'll be in San Diego December 7th - 10th and looking to introduce my family to wonderfulness of dim sum. Having enjoyed dim sum in Seattle (where I live), San Francisco, Vancouver BC and London I will want the best San Diego has to offer. My family on the other hand won't know the difference between good and bad so any recommendations will do. If they have good BBQ pork hum bow, shrimp or pork shui-mai, shrimp on sugar cane, shrimp and chive cakes and/or something I know my family likes honey walnut prawns that would be great.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Emerald has good dim sum. They're on Convoy St. and Aero Dr. in Kearny Mesa.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Josh

      I ate there at lunch today. I almost swallowed a half piece of rubber band in my dimsum. I showed the manager the other half of the rubber band, she took it away and brought it to their cook. I asked for it back, she said she threw it away. Very awful customer service--maybe because I don't speak any chinese. The manager could only say "sorry" without meaning it, she even looked mad at me for complaining. Who knows what else do they put in their dimsum!

    2. emerald is pretty decent , its where jet li eats when he comes to SD haha.

      its not easy to spot though cause its not particularly big.

      There is also Jasmine which is also on convoy, significantly bigger, taste is about the same.

      1. My preference for dim sum in SD is China Max on Convoy. The problem with Jasmine and Emerald is that unless you get there right at peak time, the food will have been sitting around on the carts for a while. At China Max, you order off a list and they bring out the plates straight from the kitchen, so everything is much fresher.

        If you aren't close to Clairemont Mesa, Pearl in Rancho Bernardo is also pretty good.

        1. Would like to second China Max. The menu with pictures is also less intimidating than the carts for dim sum newcomers (though it also makes it seem less like dim sum of course). The spicy garlic calamari is the best I've had, though it's been over fried on a few occasions. One dish that I've never seen at any other dim sum place is bbq pork in puff pastry, it's very good and popular.

          1. My favorite dim sum item I had at Emerald was curry beef in a baked bun. Just great.

            1. skip Jasmine--bad, rude service and mediocre food. Emerald and China Max are your best bets. Pearl in RB is the sister restaraunt to Emerald. Keep in mind that SF, Vancouver BC and LA all have WAY better dim sum than San Diego but if your family doesn't know the difference, they'll be fine.

              1. ordering from a menu doesn't mean its fresher. They dont make it fresh for you when you order it, its just sitting in a steamer inside.

                2 Replies
                1. re: clayfu

                  Well I doubt everything is made to order but I'd still rather have my dim sum sitting in a steamer than sitting unheated on a cart. And sometimes it takes quite a while for them to bring it out so I think in that case they are actually still making it fresh.

                  1. re: mliew

                    the carts usually have flames going thru them keeping everything hot and steamed.

                2. I agree with most folks that Emerald and China Max are best choices unless you want to drive all the way to Pearl. Personally, I would opt for the cart experience - after all that is "dim sum" for many people. Also carts let one pace the meal better. At China Max, one orders and then all the stuff arrives at once.


                  1. As an additional data point, Jasmine Bistro in El Cajon's Parkway Plaza shopping center also does dim sum. Because it's smaller than most places that specialize in it, the dim sum selection is likely somewhat smaller, but the times we've eaten there, the food was quite tasty. In fact, their sweet rice in lotus leaf is the best I've ever had. It's owned by the same people that own Jasmine on Convoy, but the El Cajon bistro is a much more pleasant room, the staff is friendly, and the service pretty good. It's the best dim sum place in El Cajon [sheepish grin].

                    I'll also note that Lucky Star at 54th and University does dimsum. Our friend Kirk gave the place a scathing review last year due to execrable service, but the food used to be pretty good. Service flaws -- even horrible ones -- can be fixed if the management is motivated. Anybody know if they've cleaned up their act?
                    . . . jim strain in san diego.

                    1. I'd like to throw in one more suggestion and if you all have comments, I would like to hear them. How about Silver Ark in Mira Mesa?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: andrew zau

                        I've only been to Silver Ark for dim sum twice and both times was around lunch time on a weekday. I wouldn't recommend going during that time as it doesn't seem like there is enough business to keep the food coming out fresh. Also, the variety is lacking. Not sure how it is on the weekend though.

                        1. re: mliew

                          I just went to Silver Ark on Saturday. The food was just fine. I think I like the fact that the restaurant is smaller. It doesn't feel as intimidating. The quality is just fine, though not as good as Pearl. As far as variety, everything you could want can be ordered from one of the staff. Granted, the service is better if you speak Cantonese or Mandarin. I got by with English. It's worth the trip if you live nearby.

                      2. Thank you everyone for all the recommendations, there are more options for dim sum than I intially thought. Thanks again!

                        1. We had Dim Sum at Mandarin China Restaurant on W. Point Loma.. it was nothing to go out of your way for - but, not bad either. We got there late, so they had to make some stuff fresh and some was still sitting on a cart.

                          1. Hi AC:
                            We ate at China Max and thought it was OK. But Jasmine was definitely better. However, I speak Chinese and I think it helped the service factor tremendously. We live in Northern California . Our youngest daughter is a student at UCSD. I thought that the quality of the food that we got at Jasmine was better than I am able to get in Sacramento and the value for what we got was good also. We have eaten sui mai, chive gao, har gow and a lot of other good stuff but we are not fans of pork baos or walnut prawns so I can't speak to that. I would make a return visit to Jasmine for the dimsum; maybe China Max for order from the menu Chinese food. Good luck and please report back.

                            1. I'm Chinese and my favorite Dim Sum in San Diego is Lucky Star at 54th & University. Weekends are really busy here. Get there before 11 am.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Loszi Cheng

                                Thanks for the rec. I will have to check out Lucky Star on my next trip to San Diego!