Dim sum at City View - report [SF]
- Amy H.
I hadn't been to City View before last Friday -- went with a group of eight total from work. Not sure how I'd never managed this, since I like dim sum and this place is quite close to the office. (Full disclosure: I'm in the Yank Sing camp -- but until usually would only make it to Harbor Village with comrades from work, since they didn't want to walk all the way over to Rincon Center.) I was very pleasantly surprised. . . absolutely delicious lunch and extremely reasonable -- ended up at right around $20 each. We had made reservations that day.
Highlights were the sugar snap peas, turnip cake, sticky rice with pork (not wrapped in leaves), flat wide noodles with beef and with shrimp (can't remember the name for these), potstickers and pork buns -- once we finally got them. The long-awaited pork buns arrived nearly an hour after we first sat down (at just after noon). Not sure what was going on there, but they were worth the wait. We cleaned out the stock the server had with her -- four steamers of three buns each -- and polished all buns off in a few minutes. Much better than the pork bao at HV.
Only disappointment were the soup dumplings, which had decent flavor, but no broth at all and an odd, lumpy texture. I liked the ones I'd had at Yank Sing a month or two ago much better.
That said, I'll be back to City View very soon. Great food and far more reasonable than Yank Sing (plus closer!).
City View Restaurant
662 Commercial Street (between Montgomery & Kearny)
San Francisco, CA 94111
I guess $20/person is cheap compared to Yank Sing, but it doesn't sound particularly cheap to me, especially since you didn't mention any of the high-end items (like roast duck) that drive the tab up. For the basic dim sum items you mentioned, $20/person actually sounds quite high (it's about what I usually spend at Harbor Village, where I always get the roast duck).
re: Ruth Lafler
Ruth, we did have the Peking duck and the chicken (or squab?) in lettuce cups as well -- 6 to 8 of each of those two items probably drove the bill up a bit. Though I'm probably still recoiling from last time at Yank Sing, with four people, which was much closer to $40 per person.
Went on Friday. Standouts for me were scallop siu mai, turnip cake (best I've had anywhere), taro dumpling, pork bao (small, good ratio of filling to bread), and custard tarts.
Pork and shrimp siu mai was very good, as was that spherical steamed dumpling with the thickish translucent wrapper filled with greens. Rice rolls with BBQ pork were good.
Two kinds (bamboo and mushroom) of large half-moon-shaped steamed dumplings (same shape as potstickers but much largers) were bland and meh.
My friend grabbed the check so I don't know how much it cost.
City View is our go-to place for dim sum in Chinatown ... And really, in the entire city. I haven't eaten anything there that suffered by comparison to either Yank Sing or Tong Kiang, both of which (heresy alert) appear to me to be coasting on reputation.
Last Sunday I joined some friends for dim sum at City View. It had been a number of years since my last visit. The dining room is sunny and well-kept and the carts circulated regularly.
I was pleased to see so many choices of steamed dumplings and loaded up on these. Unfortunately, all of them seemed to be less than fresh, perhaps frozen or reheated. None of the shrimp-based ones used higher quality whole shrimp, rather chopped up pieces that were somewhat overcooked. Also, the crimped edges of the wrappers were stiff, another indication that they were not freshly steamed.
Peking duck on the cart was not a Peking duck but rather a soggy and bony Cantonese roast duck. Pass.
Also did not try the taro dumplings as they looked too solid and not frilly enough and had an obvious oil stain.
Steamed bean curd skin rolls were also tired and tasted like reheated leftovers. The filling suffered from too much oil, and they were wrapped poorly, falling apart.
The sesame balls were terrible. I've never seen such a thick and undercooked shell on such a small sphere.
In the "okay" category, the rice noodle crepe filled with char siu and chives was well-flavored though the crepe was too soft. The barbecued pork was chopped into bits which was a new one for me, and I can't say that I liked it that way over slices. The sauce was much too sweet. And the pan-fried chive and shrimp dumpling was inoffensive.
I didn't try the baked pork bun that looked like it might have potential. We ordered the turnip cakes, but it never came.
Best dish would be the char siu so, the baked pastry turnovers filled with barbecued pork and a touch of Madras curry. Nice flaky pastry and decent flavor.
Cost per person came to about $23 per person. The place was very busy. I don't know why.
re: Melanie Wong
I had a few items there yesterday (Saturday). At about 10:30am, it was pretty empty, so the same "easy" items cycled around-- no spareribs, chicken feet, turnip cakes, or vegetables. Instead, sesame chicken and honey walnut prawns.
The shrimp in the ha gow were crisp and large, but the wrappers were dried out, uneven, and not so much pleated as scrunched.
Shrimp and chive dumpling was okay. Both this and the ha gow left a big MSG aftertaste.
Baked custard buns were good--- I'd recommend these.
$16 for the three items, tea, and tax. I'd have done better at the takeout places elsewhere on Chinatown.
re: Melanie Wong
No worries--- I was killing time before Hunan House opened and my mission was to get the custard buns, something J. Kauffman recommended a few years ago. They're good, and I like the proportion better than the full sized ones at bakeries.
There was a post somewhere saying that the quality at City View is better on weekdays than weekends. You and me covering Sat and Sunday confirm that those are days to avoid ... and ick, the Peking duck did look awful.