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Jun 14, 2007 12:43 PM

dim sum specifically in SF Chinatown

Hi there. I am pretty familiar with Oakland & SF dim sum - I usually go to Ton Kiang or a place in Daly City, or else Peony or East Ocean in the east bay ... I like Yank Sing too when I'm with parents or other Fancy People.

However, I need to find a decent place for a big group for Sunday AM dim sum - probably 12-18 people (we can take 2 big tables) specifically in Chinatown, as most people will be staying in union square hotels and won't have cars and I don't want to trek them all out to Ton Kiang.

I know the dim sum situation in this neighborhood is not ideal, but there must be one or two big dim sum palace type joints - like Jing Fong in NYC - around here, right? Any ideas?

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  1. Lichee Garden Restaurant
    1416 Powell St, SF (415) 397-2290

    Gold Mountain, 644 Broadway, SF
    Y Ben House, 835 Pacific Ave, SF

    14 Replies
    1. re: hhc

      Thanks for these, hhc. Any particular favorite among them?

      1. re: hewn

        my post on Lichee Garden w/ pics back in Feb 2007:

        haven't been to Gold Mtn for a long time, Ruth's post:

        I haven't tried Y Ben House, on my list, here's Bryan Harrell's post:

        1. re: hhc

          thank you for doing this legwork for me!

          1. re: hewn

            one more Doh Ho, most recent post:

            Oh, there is an ok Search feature on the top which I used to find those posts, plus I read the board way to much.

            1. re: hhc

              I love Dol Ho, but it's really quite small and not suitable for a large group. In addition, its "atmosphere" is about five steps down from Yank Sing, and everyone in the group might not appreciate its funky charm.

            1. re: Lightsuprooms

              I've been a Y. Ben House booster since I first went there, and am glad to see that others are "getting it" but it has its own "funky charm" (to steal Ruth Laflers's words) which keeps it off the Ton Kiang - Yank Sing axis. On balance I'd suggest Gold Mountain as being reasonably tidy and having carts a-plenty (and incidentally good dim sum).

              1. re: Gary Soup

                I know Gary, that you're a big fan of Y. Ben. I had passed by Y. Ben quite a few times, and the place has that cheap/dirty look inside--usually I would never go in a restaurant like that. But at your urge, and out of curiosity after reading many reviews about Y. Ben, I decided to check it out myself. It was packed on one weekend, and armed with a bag of tupperware (I was eating solo and I wanted to sample a wide variety of dim sum), paper towels, etc.--no I didn't bring my own silverware as someone suggested online--I was put in a two-person table with another guy. That guy left, and a different guy joined my table, and this guy left and an old couple squeezed into the other side of our tiny table. I found it more amusing than annoying. I tried both steamed and fried items, and all of them were average for Chinatown standards, and a significant notch below the top Millbrae and Daly City restaurants. Prices were low for sure, but not outrageously low; I paid almost $20 for myself with leftover to take home from a few items. I definitely won't go back or recommend Y. Ben to anyone, but I understand why a lot of people like and pack this place.


                1. re: vincentlo

                  I'll agree that it's not Koi Palace, but good by Chinatown standards AND has, or had, about the lowest price point for a sit-downer in C'town (haven't been in a while). $20 seems hard to believe. SOMETHING must be filling those 900 seats with budget-minded bodies.

                  I still think about the Seafood Chow Fun at YBH.

                  1. re: vincentlo

                    I tasted them, but I refused to eat the dumplings at Y Ben House. Yes, it's sit-down and inexpensive, but the food was worse than the cheap take-out places nearby. My plate was rimmed with dumplings with a small bite taken out of them and left for garbage. Actually the best things we tried were the shanghai rice cakes, others have reported favorably on the noodles, and Gary is a fan of the chow fun. That may be the key to satisfaction here, stick to the noodle-y things and avoid the dim sum.

                    Chowdown, (4/2004)

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Yes, the rice cakes. The stuffed tofu skin (both braised and fried versions) was also exceptional, and I liked the spare ribs there more than I usually do. I've only been there with the Shanghai clan, and we usually follow a different ordering pattern then when I'm with Cantonese or other guilaos, generally ignoring most of the dumpling-y standards except for har gao, which my SIL likes, and wu gok,which I can never pass up. I have no recollection of the har gao, and recall being disappointed in the wu gok (largely because it was cold, I thought).

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        I guess even my food recollections are not immune to my "senior moments." In a thread that just bubbled up, I wasn't disappointed at all in the wu gok at Y Ben House ;-)


                        1. re: Gary Soup


                          Y Ben House Restaurant
                          835 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          2. City View - 662 Commercial Place (cross street Kearny). Clean, attentive service, and consistently good. I have not been for a few years since I moved to Chicago in could have changed, but doubtful.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Moshi Moshi

              Cart service there too? Good to know. Sounds like I'll have to flip a 5-sided coin!

              1. re: hewn

                Yes - cart service at City View.

                1. re: hewn

                  I have to dissent on City View -- I've never been impressed by the food there, and got the worst "gringo" treatment I've ever had at a dim sum place.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Just does a dim sum place give "gringo treatment"? (More properly, "lo fon" treatment). Especially with cart service. Someone has to be last and get the cold stuff.

                    1. re: OldTimer

                      Well, to begin with, when they seated us they automatically removed the chopsticks from our place settings and brought us forks. The carts that had anything that could be considered remotely "exotic" bypassed us and had to be chased down. Etc.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I heard from my cousin who had attended a birthday lunch last week at City View. She's never been much of a fan of the place, and she said the food has gone downhill even more.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        I ate at City View last week. It's also gotten more expensive, too. $46 for 3 people without tip.

                        1. re: Philip

                          Thanks, Philip. How'd you feel about the food at City View?

                          Here's a link to my post last year on dim sum at Great Eastern in Chintatown.

                          Great Eastern Restaurant
                          649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                          City View Restaurant
                          662 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Food seemed greasier than I'd remembered, but my ordering is different when I go with my Chinese friends (my most recent meal there) than with my gaijin ones (meal there several months ago).

                2. Any recommends for cheap dim sum? Dishes between <$1-$4? I don't mind the hole-in-the-walls, but I'll have company, so something a step up from that. Thanks!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Jel212


                    So if not yank sing, whats the next best in the city, close to china town, that uses carts?

                    been to YS many times, but want some thing new and lest costly.