Visiting San Francisco and want to experience SF Chinese food
Especially Dim Sum. But here's the caveat: I am allergic to peanuts so I need a Chinese restaurant (with great food, of course!) that can understand my allergy. We are staying in Nob Hill but will have a car. Any restaurants fit the bill or do you think it's better for me not to risk it?
If I were you, I might stay away. One of my best friends is allergic to peanuts and the largest area of concern is usually the oil. Even though it is generally not peanut oil, it's hard to be sure. Her last venture into a high end Thai restaurant in New York ended in the emergency room. There were not visible peanuts, and she was assured peanut oil and peanuts were not used. Turned out there was a small amount of ground peanuts in a dipping sauce.
I think it probably depends on how allergic you are to peanuts. If you are deathly allergic, then I agree with ptrefler that it's good to stay away. But I have a friend who is allergic, but not extremely, and he does fine in many Chinese places. If you are careful about what you order and explain your allergy, I think you'd do fine in most places. I think it's pretty easy to avoid ordering dishes that contain peanuts....the oil (or traces of it, like in the use of an ingredient that had previously been fried in oil) would probably be the bigger concern. This might be a good post for the General Topics board though, since I think this issue would be the same in SF as it would be for any other city with good, authentic Chinese restaurants. Maybe other people with peanut allergies have advice.
if you end up deciding to go for it, i would suggest yank sing for its english-friendly staff. unlike my favorite (koi palace), i would be more confident in the staff's ability to understand your allergy and work with it. The food is well regarded on this board.
you may have a better idea of what you're dealing with if you call before your trip and discuss safe/unsafe menu choices with the staff.
i'll try, but to warn you, 1)i don't eat mammals and 2) i'm on a budget, so i haven't tried many dishes, including the fabulous-sounding whole lobster or crab dumplings. we usually stretch our budget by ordering a noodle dish (we like the enoki mushroom efu).
i like to order several things off the checklist, and then see what's coming around on the trays. among the necessary orders are the sa yung (chinese donuts), which imo are only fabulous when freshly fried and so hot you can hardly touch them. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/342332. i also like the "duck shreds burrito," which is duck rolled up with scallions in a pancake, and then sliced. not really dim sum, but delicious, and only good hot. there's also a large block of fried tofu served with a dark-colored sauce that i find light and refreshing, but also only good hot. i always checklist order these. kp is so big that you can't be sure that you can snag these dishes soon enough after they exit the kitchen to be at their peak.
among the actual bao, i like the har gao, the shrimp-and-chive, and the shrimp-and-scallop dumplings. i like the pea tips with garlic, unless the asian clientele all seem to be eating a different veggie that day, in which case i'll have what they're having :). the salt-and-pepper fried squid vary between good and great, but i like them too. once, it was salt-and-pepper fish, which was delicious.
i have been unimpressed with the shrimp-and-mushroom dumplings. i think that shrimp-stuffed anything is one-dimensional and overpriced, whether it's stuffed crab claw or eggplant or sugar cane or whatever. also, i find the rice noodle rolls to be too thick, and usually stuck together.
after my basics, i mostly just check out what everyone else is getting and ask for the same.
You should call ahead to ask if they use peanut oil in there cooking process. If so you should pass. Peanut oil what is used in many Chinese homes with closer roots to China.
For your own protection call ahead. Other wise you only have to pass on Chew Chou dumpling since it is the only one off hand I know has peanuts.
I second Yank Sing - but I would also call ahead and talk to them about your concerns. It can be very busy and the people with the carts can get rushed. I like the food there very much!