HOME > Chowhound > California >


Best Dim Sum in SD?

I recently moved to San Diego and I am craving Dim Sum.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, I have become accustomed to fantastic asian food and dim sum has been no exception.
I am living in Little Italy/Downtown but have a car and am willing to drive anywhere within about 20 minutes if it is worth it but would obviously prefer somewhere relatively local.
I also would love a place that isn't too pricey as I seem to end up ordering a ton of stuff when I go and it sometimes adds up.
Anybody know of a good spot?
What items are particularly good at your spot and what should be avoided?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. i think you should try the 3 closest to you.

    China Max/ emerald/ jasmine.

    see which you like the most.

    1. There is no great dim sum in San Diego. If you find some, please send me an urgent message! China Max, Emerald, Jasmine and Pearl take shortcuts and don't make everything from scratch (typical mango pudding with an artificial flavor scent), but we go anyway because it feels familiar, if not very good. It's about the same as most cities, just not up to San Francisco level (made in small batches from scratch, hand-carried to your table so you don't have that horrid sterno scent, no mixes or frozen foods or shortcuts), so I suspect Toronto and Vancouver would also be at San Fran level.

      1. I think those on the LA board--and some from the SF board--would say that LA dim sum is the best. But that's neither here nor there.

        I've been to China Max, Emerald and Jasmine and like China Max of the three (order dim sum off the menu). However, for dim sum off the cart, I like Emerald.

        1. i agree! LA is the bizomb. Many people in HK even agree that LA is probably the only place that can hold a candle to the motherland

          1 Reply
          1. re: clayfu

            Vancouver and Toronto both beat LA dim sum hands down.

          2. Coming from Toronto, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Even if you go all the way to Monterey Park, you'll still be disappointed. With that said, there are only 3 options in SD (see other posts), none of which compare to anything in Toronto.

            1. I agree with the others. The Dim Sum here will be tolerable, but not amazing. My mom lives in Toronto and not only does Toronto have a great Chinatown it has FIVE Chinatowns. How do we compare....oh wait... our weather is better, but dim sum is still only ok.

                1. re: clayfu

                  Toronto rocks for good food. I had some of the best meals of my life in that city, including Sichuan hot pot in a tiny, hole in the wall place where the owner/waiter only spoke Mandarin!

                  To the OP, go north to LA, San Francisco or even Vegas for better dim sum than what's here in SD.

                2. i'm sure it has great food. i'm just not sure if their dimsum is better than LA haha.
                  Considering LA houses probably the largest chinese population in the North American Continent

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: clayfu

                    Vancouver and Toronto also house a very large Chinese population--mixture of students, families, multi-generations. I would put it up there with the LA basin.

                  2. Vancouver, best Dim Sum without a doubt. I lived in Hong Kong and there were times I think all the best chef's went to B.C! But as this was about San Diego, I liked none of the places, China Max least of all.

                    1. unless i get a last minute recommendation for a fantastic place (i won't keep my fingers crossed), i am off to emerald for lunch today as on a sunday i would prefer to get the items off the carts but perhaps china max one day soon to order off their menu.

                      anyone tried dumping inn? i have heard pretty good things and was surprised that nobody mentioned it.

                      thanks to everyone for their replies!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Josh F

                        Dumpling Inn is a very small restaurant that doesn't do dim sum. Some folks whose opinions I respect really like it, but I don't understand why for sure. The jellyfish salad is good, but the dumplings seem fairly ordinary to me.


                        1. re: Ed Dibble

                          I go to Dumpling Inn fairly often for lunch on the weekends and the quality of their dishes really depends a lot on what you order. I like their Xiao Long Bao. I've had the boiled dumplings and potstickers before and I agree that they are nothing special. The beef/lamb with scallions dish is also one of my favorites. It's very simple but quite tasty.

                      2. I'm envious, even though I just got back (stuffed) from eating one of those deliciously drippy grilled beed "kabobs" at the stand at the Normal street Farmers Market. There's not too much better than that sandwich, except maybe dim sum for lunch. The person who does desserts there, catty corner from the crepe place, had wonderful brioche today. Imagine making French toast from that!
                        I really like Dumpling Inn, by the way. Definitely worth a try, but it is a small place and there is typically a line unless you get there at 11:30 and beat the rush.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: abacal

                          I love the chicken sandwich from those folks too.

                          Recently we were at CHINA MAX, their dim sum experience is a little different. They do not have the passing carts, but instead you order from a menu and they bring it to you. I prefer Jasmine.

                        2. Dumpling Inn is Northern Chinese cooking (ie: XLB, potstickers, soup noodles). Dim sum is Southern Chinese, aka Cantonese food. That is why you don't find dim sum at Dumpling Inn.

                          1. went to emerlad and the food was better than i expected. although not as good as some of the top places i've been to in toronto, my guest and i enjoyed all of our dishes and i plan to return.

                            thanks to everyone for their recs and comments!