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Best SF Dim Sum for Dim Sum Virgin Please?

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Heading for Dim Sum this Sunday in SF after convincing hubby that it's good. :-)
I need a Dim Sum that is very welcoming for non-Chinese and that has recognizable menu items enough to feed us virgins.
Please help!

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  1. for your req's, I would suggestYank Sing. It is interesting and easy to navigate, if more expensive than some of the more trad places in chinatown.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chazzerking

      Second this rec. I just went here for lunch today and while I'm Chinese, my co-worker was not but she did fine on her own when it came to ordering dim sum. I can see how this place would be great for first timers. The servers speak enough English so that non-Chinese speakers would not be intimidated.

      Although I do have to say there is better dim sum out there...but Yank Sing will be great for your hubby to get him introduced to dim sum since there isn't anything "weird." It is a bit pricey though. Our bill came to $88 with tax and tip.

    2. What's so scary about dim sum? People always recommend Yank Sing for people who are "new to dim sum" but I have found every dim sum place I've visited in SF (and practically ever) to be welcoming. Patience and smiles go a long way if there is a language barrier, and I don't think there is ever reason to be scared to go into any restaurant - there is almost always someone who can explain what different things are for people who are new or who don't speak Chinese.

      Also, I've introduced dozens of people to dim sum, and I don't think I've ever had any trouble convincing anyone that it's good.

      If you don't want to spend as much money as you will at Yank Sing, I recommend Gold Mountain in Chinatown. I also would recommend Hong Kong Seafood S&T in the outer Sunset, although depending on where you are coming from, this may be more/less convenient.

      Do you have any preferred neighborhood?

      Dave MP

      25 Replies
      1. re: Dave MP

        Thanks Dave. Somewhere with parking is ideal as we are bringing the kiddles along and there are four of them. otherwise no pref on neighborhood as we are coming from the East bay to begin with so prepared to drive a bit.

        1. re: hungrykitten

          Do you have to have dim sum in SF? Because there is good dim sum in Oakland/Alameda

          1. re: kc72

            Closer would be awesome, we are newbies and figured we would have to go to SF for sure.

            1. re: hungrykitten

              Koi Palace in Daly City is also a nice one to try, and it's close by SF.

              1. re: Rex914

                To answer Dave, "What's so scary about dim sum?" is that some people are intimidated by food and situations that are unfamiliar, especially if they don't have a knowledgable person to guide them through the experience.

                I would NOT recommend Koi Palace for a timid newbie, especially one with kids, as the waits in the weekends are epic, it's noisy and chaotic, and the servers are not reliably helpful.

                I also wouldn't recommend Yank Sing with four kids -- you could run up quite a bill, which would give your husband the wrong impression about what dim sum usually costs.

                If you're in the East Bay anyway, I think you should go to East Ocean on Webster Street in Alameda. Unlike the Oakland Chinatown places there probably won't be a wait, the food is good and reasonably priced, it's not noisy or chaotic, and the servers are friendly and helpful to non-Chinese. Parking is easy (lots of street parking and a small lot in back of the restaurant off the side street).

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Oops, forgot the locator:

                  -----
                  East Ocean Seafood
                  1713 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I agree w/the East Ocean suggestion. Good food and service. If you need extra help or service, ask for Millie -- she's great! Getting there earlier (by 11:30) will alleviate parking and waiting woes.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      As much as I love Yank Sing, with four kids unless money is no problem, I'd go with Ruth's suggestion. I'm not personally offended by the prices at Yank Sing, but it is more than the average place.

                      Should you decide to go there anyway, there a parking lot in the building and it is free with validation on the weekend.

                      I think I'm pleasant in restaurants and dim sum places still intimidate me. Its not that any one is rude, they just aren't helpful and you are on your own. That's one reason I love Yank Sing so much. It was my first dim sum experience and they made it so pleasant I became a dim sum fan.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I'd second this recommendation for all of the same reasons that Ruth (who I believe is a Veteran of the Dim Sum Wars) mentioned!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I have never been to East Ocean, but it sounds like a great suggestion. Someone's first dim sum experience need not be fancy or expensive or Americanized in any way - I have never been to Yank Sing, so I realize I shouldn't judge it. But the main thing I know is that it is super expensive, and I totally agree with Ruth that this would give the wrong impression of what dim sum usually costs.......in my opinion, what's most important is a place that's relaxed, has good food and friendly staff to help out - with 4 kids, having no wait sounds like a huge plus too. Sounds like East Ocean is a great bet.

                        Dave MP

                      2. re: Rex914

                        Koi Palace IMO is the wrong suggestion for newbies. It's super crowded with a long wait, and the service can be rude.

                      3. re: hungrykitten

                        Closer to where? There are several excellent dim sum places in Millbrae.

                    3. re: hungrykitten

                      As indicated in the dim sum in the "Dim Sum In The Peninsula" post currently on the board, San Francisco is NOT the best place to have dim sum. While East Bay choices are not as widespread as the Peninsula, you're still better off in Oakland, Alameda, Richmond or Emeryville as opposed to San Francisco.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        You think there's better dim sum in Oakland than in SF? Where?

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Well comparing Chinatown to Chinatown I think I'd take Peony and maybe Legendary Palace over anything in S. F. Chinatown.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            Could be, but I don't think Oakland has better dim sum than you can find in SF's Richmond or Sunset districts.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Agreed. South Sea Island Village for one.

                      2. re: hungrykitten

                        Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville is good. No connection to East Ocean in Alameda.

                        I haven't had the dim sum at Daimo, but everything else I've had there has been good. It's technically in Richmond but if you didn't know you'd assume you were in El Cerrito.

                        -----
                        Daimo Chinese Restaurant
                        3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                        Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood
                        3199 Powell St, Emeryville, CA 94608

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Daimo doesn't serve dim sum... at least not when I've been there.

                          1. re: Sarah

                            They serve it in the morning or late at night. It is off the menu though and there are no carts. The selection is limited.

                            1. re: rworange

                              Yep. I've had dim sum here. I didn't think it was great but I guess people here disagree. I actually like Asian Pearl better for dim sum, but people here just hate that place for some reason.

                              1. re: choctastic

                                Asian Pearl used to serve luke warm dim sum when it started. But I have gone recently and it's very good.

                                1. re: PeterL

                                  Had dim sum there yesterday (Tues) and it has definitely improved. Most dishes were good to excellent.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I had dim sum at Daimo recently. Decent but not great, there are better things to order there.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Dim sum at Daimo is pretty terrible. I've never understood why people here recommend it, especially with Asian Pearl next door.

                      3. I like Asian Pearl in Pacific East Mall. It gets trashed on these boards but I thought they had decent food. Maybe one to try after East Ocean Seafood?

                        1. OP where is your starting point? There are so many good dim sum places around for someone new to this area of Chinese eating.

                          San Francisco is not not be best there is to offer. Yang Sing dim sum is more a new style of dim sum, which good but not the classic form of dim sum. There many places for a newbie to start out with.

                          I know it is in the East Bay but where in the East Bay?

                          Post teh a

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yimster

                            info

                            -----
                            East Ocean Seafood
                            1713 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501

                          2. I too will be taking some folks for Dim Sum this sunday - they are tourists but not necessarily unadventurous or interested in keeping the bill down either - and this thread brings up some interesting questions.

                            it would seem that there is almost a consensus that the best (food-wise) Dim Sum is not to be found in SF, that may be fine for locals and others who can tolerate the atmosphere or drive to Daly City or elsewhere, but where to go if you are looking for a more traditional atmosphere paired with the best food options possible (understanding that this will not necessarily be the best food available)?

                            were probably looking for chinatown but i wouldnt be opposed to something further out towards the ocean either - my mom still lives in town and her default is New Asia, where we have had some mixed experiences, but its a winner when it comes to the traditional chinatown feel (massive room, frequent funeral processions past the front door past the projects on your way out from lunch, as examples of the non-food angle we are looking for).

                            where to go for the best combined atmosphere/feel and food, preferably in chinatown, definitely in the city?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                              haven't been there in awhile, but you can try Gold Mountain

                              -----
                              Gold Mountain Restaurant
                              644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              1. re: tex.s.toast

                                I guess I am confused by your reference to projects...do you mean housing projects? How is that a traditional atmosphere?

                                I don't know New Asia, so perhaps that is part of why I am not sure how to interpret your request, but Gold Mountain probably otherwise fits with your description.

                                The best combination of touristy/Chinatown atmosphere and good dim sum in Chinatown, IMO, is Kan's.

                              2. The two places in SF that we like best for dim sum are in the Sunset district. Hong Kong S&T on Noriega went through a bit of a transition period a few months ago, but they are back to being a very good dim sum restaurant, and South Sea Seafood Village on Irving is another really good (and helpful) dim sum house. The atmosphere South Sea is more traditional with a fancier feel. Both places serve excellent dim sum.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Nancy Berry

                                  site notes:

                                  -----
                                  S&T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant
                                  2578 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                  South Sea Seafood Village
                                  1420 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                                    When were you at SSSV? Our dinner experience about 8 months ago was very poor...mealy prawns & ammonia smelling crabs!

                                    1. re: intomeat

                                      We were at SSSV yesterday, and I was disappointed. The following were very good: siu mai, ha gow, dried bean curd rolls, and sticky rice in lotus leaf. The following were pretty good: shrimp paste stuffed eggplant, black bean chicken feet, and baked char siu bao. But the following were poor: pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings and shimp and spinach dumplings. They were mushy and the shrimp used in them were mealy and mushy -- they tasted like they were frozen and then overcooked. The tea, as always was excellent -- we had white jasmine. But they also forgot to bring the seafood chow fun with XO sauce that I had ordered when we sat down (I even pointed it out at that time to our waitress AND to the maitre d'.) Also, the assortment of different dim sum was not very wide considering that we were there on a weekend.

                                      Lately, I've had MUCH better dim sum at Hong Kong Seafood S & T on Noriega. We'll go there next time or we'll go down the Peninsula.