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Top Notch Dim Sum?

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Hi, I will be down in San Fran over the holidays and I'm looking to have some top notch dim sum here. I live in Vancouver where fancy & top notch dim sum is plenty . . . and I'm sure San Fran has the same type of quality. Where do you suggest me to go?? I have a car and I am willing to drive as far as I need to go!

Thanks!!

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  1. Koi Palace

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    Koi Palace Restaurant
    365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

    1. You're not going to find anything in the SF Bay Area as good as Vancouver, unless things have gone seriously downhill in Vancouver in the last year. Koi Palace is a decent experience though not up to the best in Vancouver. They do have some really good seafood dishes at dinner, but I think you can get same at lunch as well. I see people ordering lobster etc. during dim sum hours all the time.

      I hear good things about Zen Peninsula, but haven't been yet. There's also the Kitchen which is a chain. The one in L.A. is pretty good but not my favorite there. Haven't been to the one in this area.

      People up here seem to be really fond of Hong Kong Flower Lounge. Personally I think they're smoking too much bad crack, but that's just me.

      9 Replies
      1. re: choctastic

        The Kitchen is a "chain" only in the sense that it is owned by a restaurant group that also owns several other Chinese restaurants, including another one of the same name in LA, and one soon to be in Sacramento.

        1. re: PeterL

          The Kitchen and Asian Pearl are part of the same chain. They have two senior chefs which run all the kitchens.

          1. re: yimster

            I think we're splitting hairs, here. one could as justifiably say that The French Laundry is part of a chain, with one chef running five (?) kitchens. And Chinese cuisine, IMHO, is less chef-driven than Euro-American cuisine.

        2. re: choctastic

          I agree with you! I've never had a good meal at HKFL nor Ton Kiang, and can't understand the rave reviews.

          1. re: Claudette

            Well, I agree on Ton Kiang, but I can't agree on HKFL. During the famous "dim sum civil" war I ate dim sum in more than two dozen restaurants around the Bay Area across the spectrum from dives to high-end, and since then I've eaten at many more, and HKFL was the best. Although I have to say that one meal was merely very good, while the other was outstanding.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Uh, with all due respect, that civil war was what...4 years ago? Things have changed mightily since then... That said, I do remember going to HKFL about 3 years ago (that's probably the earliest memory I have of that place) and I didn't have a good meal back then or in subsequent times.

              I will admit I have the minority opinion on that place. Most people on this board really seem to like HKFL.

              1. re: choctastic

                HKFL was bought by Eric Lau of the Mayflower mini-empire (San Francisco, Milpitas, Union City) about a month ago. Any reports of any changes?

                I've also heard that Lau is planning to sell the SF Mayflower, but that may just be rumor.

                1. re: choctastic

                  It's true I haven't been there for a while, but people I know and trust who have been there as recently as a few weeks ago tell me it's the same. It is (or was) part of a small Hong Kong-based chain, and one thing you can say about chains is that they're consistent. However, I'll be interested to hear if people feel there are differences under the new management.

                  I'm curious, can you tell me what made it not a good meal? One particular dish? More than one particular dish? The overall food quality? Something else?

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Overall food quality has never been what I get at for instance Koi Palace, Asian Pearl, etc. I still don't get what people love about this place; everything seems so tired. Perhaps I don't get the special treatment because I'm just an average joe, but I think my experience is as valid as anyone else's.

          2. You will be hard pressed to find anything better in the Bay Area better than Vancouver/Richmond BC.

            But if you must than in Addition to Koi Palace

            Joy Luck in San Mateo
            Zen Pen in Millbare
            Asian Pearl in Millbare
            Hong Flower Lounge in Millbare.

            These are some of the better one in the Bay Area.

            Good eating.

            11 Replies
            1. re: yimster

              Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I read on a few threads that Koi Palace seems like the place to go? Kind of dissapointed that the quality isn't as good as Vancouver as I expected SF to be equal or better! But you never know . . i'll give it a try!

              Thanks!!

              1. re: bobthebuilder

                The ones recommend to you by our local hounds are comparable to the best Richmond has to offer. Of course there is no dim sum house in which every dish is the best. Even in BC you have to cherry pick items.

                As someone who has off and on visited BC to see family and eat I think the Bay Area dim sum in the last five years has reach the same high level as BC. But the Hong Kong connection is better in BC.

                There are items that are better here.

                So by all means give it a try. The only thing here we have dim sum houses open at 8 AM for breakfast dim sum.

                1. re: bobthebuilder

                  Prior to the HK migration wave in the late 80's you may be able to say that about SF vs Vancouver Chinese food. Right now Vancouver has practically the best Chinese food outside of HK and China.

                  1. re: PeterL

                    I was there two weeks ago and I do think we are closer today then ever.

                    1. re: yimster

                      A good way to gauge is to see if the "Low Sah Bao" is in the dim sum rotation. It's been in existence for a little while now, I first had it in China and Hong Kong 2 years ago, the name translates to "leak sand". It seems like a lotus paste bun or a ly wong bao, but the center is actually a salted duck egg yolk mixed with sugar and most likely pork fat, which when heated results in a sweet yet rich, lovely lovely thing. I've only seen it here at Gold Mountain, in Chinatown SF of all places, but have asked for it at Joy Luck in San Mateo and the manager still hadn't heard of it yet...

                      I'm sure it's made it's way into Vancouver by now...?

                      1. re: jondis

                        I did have Low Sah Bow at Asian Pearl in Millbare only last week and found to be very good. We got a fresh from the steamer order. As time pasts the free flowing salted duck egg custard will become more solid and less flowing.

                        1. re: yimster

                          Some places will offer a baked version, the same as a baked char siu bao..I'm going to have to check it out. The only other place I've had it was in Oakland, the two story place on 8th.

                          Speaking of which, Restaurant Peony also does a version of the Macau Egg Tart in which they caramelize the top. you have to special order it though "poh gok dan tat"

                          1. re: jondis

                            It was a steam bun, have not seen the Macau egg tart at any of the Millbare places.

                            In the past I have traveled long ways for great Chinese food, now I am glad it is closer and with gas so high I hope to find closer places for my food fixes.

                            As for the Macau Egg Tart I did have one in the San Jose area but I do not remember off hand. I will check my notes and if I find the place I will post.

                        2. re: jondis

                          Sea Harbour in Vancouver and LA have had that bun for ages. Others have it too but that was the first place that came to mind. Haven't seen it in the SF Bay Area much.

                          1. re: jondis

                            Here's a sighting in SF at S & T Hong Kong Seafood on Noriega,
                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31257...

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

                            1. re: jondis

                              They have this at Peony's in Oakland Chinatown. However, they are hit or miss. Sometimes, they're full of the oozy goodness that is expected. But othertimes, it's over cooked and becomes a solid paste instead of being runny.

                    2. After my last visit to Vancouver I literally could not eat Chinese food back home for a month because Vancouver Chinese food is that much better. I'd say the "average" Chinese restaurant in Richmond is better than the best places down here. However, I do agree with everything on this board as to which are the best Bay Area dim sum restaurants, and having gotten over my last Vancouver trip I'll happily go to any of these restaurants.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        The Chinese food in the Bay Area has steady improved in recently and the gap has closed. For over ten years we travel to BC to visit family and eat. The food here was alway good but has gotten better.

                        Hell, you could live in New Jersey or Wisconsin.

                        1. re: yimster

                          Try Ton Kiang at 5821 Geary Blvd in SF. Its at Geary and 22nd or 23rd. It is outstanding - get there early - there is always a line out the door. I think you will find that it measures up to what you are used to eating. Fabulous.

                          1. re: sonomasal

                            Not!

                            I haven't had as much dim sum as the esteemed Yimster but I have had a lot of dim sum some of the best places in both Vancouver & the Bay Area. Unless they've had a major management change very recently, TK is just not in the same class. Just one example - every shrimp dish I've had at TK has been seriously bad - rubbery, stale, freezer-burn nasty.

                            1. re: larochelle

                              Bob - trust me and trust Frommer's who list Ton Kiang as the #1 dim sum restaurant in the city. See review. ttp://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanfran...
                              I have sampled Dim Sum all over the world - including in China - this is the best in the city.

                              1. re: sonomasal

                                Sorry, Frommer's is notoriously bad for San Francisco. And, now I know it's poor at judging dim sum too. Ton Kiang is not somewhere I'd send someone hoping to best Vancouver's dim sum.

                                1. re: sonomasal

                                  I don't know you but I wouldn't trust Frommers for Chinese food. BTW SF city has probably the worse overall quality of dim sum in all the Bay Area.

                                  1. re: sonomasal

                                    chiming in here, ton kiang is great for ppl who want the sanitized and slightly more western version of dim sum. it's not completely authentic and the quality is poor compared to the real thing. it might be something the op is interested in, but since they're writing from vancouver, this probably won't appeal to them.

                                    1. re: thejulia

                                      Ton Kiang is as authentic Hakkanese as my guinea pig. Too many deep fried dim sum items (easy and faster to churn out) as well as unrefined common stuff.

                          2. Vancouver has much better shrimp. Ergo, dimsum with shrimp is almost always better in Vancouver.

                            Having granted Vancouver that much, I'd agree with Yimster that SF Bay Area dimsum has gotten better over the past several years and can now hold a candle to Vancouver dimsum--except where shrimp is concerned. I also have to agree that you have to find out which items each restaurant does best and stick to those things.

                            Joy Luck San Mateo--for me, the best balance of good food, comfortable dining experience, and reasonable prices. Lo bak see jar leung (thanks, Yimster) might be worth the drive from SF. BBQ items and chicken feet are very good.

                            Yank Sing--if money is no object, and you are willing to try some non-traditional dimsum, this is a good place to dine. Food quality and service are very good, and you may well find items you don't get in Vancouver.

                            Asian Pearl--very good dimsum. Reminds me of Vancouver dimsum. Best egg tarts I've had lately.

                            Koi Palace--probably the best dimsum overall. Roast suckling pig, coffee spareribs, steamed cake layered with salted egg filling. . . But have everyone in your party bring noise-cancelling headphones, good music, and a good book if you go on a weekend as dining there can be quite stressful. Conversation will be impossible. High-strung people may need Valium.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: pilinut

                              I have to agree with everything in this post. Actually, not just shrimp but seafood in general. That said, Koi Palace can pull out some very interesting seafood dishes, but it'll cost ya. And yeah, dim sum in the Bay Area definitely has gotten better in the last couple of years, no denying that, though I still think the best places in Vancouver are better overall, but that's just me.

                              1. re: choctastic

                                What about the whole dungeness crab shanghai soup dumplings at Koi Palace? I've never seen that rendtion in any of the LA dim sum houses. If Vancouver is lacking something like that, it is definitely worth a try. It's bascially XLB filled with 90% dungesness crab (meat from the body portion) and the legs are fried for your enjoyment. They also do whole lobster dumplings but I like the crab version better. They should be available by the time you get down here.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  that sounds really good! Obviously not a dim sum item, but thank you SF fourmers for all your help! I constantly travel and tried dim sum in cities like NY, Chicago & LA. I have found them to be good . . . but easily comparable to Canadian cities like Toronto & Calgary. I am SURE SF should be able to top that! . . wish me luck!

                                  1. re: bobthebuilder

                                    Depends on if you consider all forms of dumplings a dim sum item. The whole lobster dumplings are done with a wrapper more like a har gow wrapper while the dungeness crab XLB is classic XLB wrapper with 90-100% dungeness crab. Both are served only during dim sum. Guess that's one thing SF/Koi Palace has over Vancouver.

                                  2. re: Porthos

                                    okay good call, i haven't seen these in l.a. or vancouver either.

                              2. Hi there - i'm probably going to regret putting this on chowhound. there's a dim sum place down in belmont, ca. about 20 miles south of SF that has very traditional hong kong dim sum, nothing fancy like Yank Sing but good, simple and not expensive at all! I've eaten at this place about 30 times in the past year - my entire office of asians/caucasians orders take out dimsum from them regularly. It's called China Village Seafood Restaurant. I know i'm going to regret it now because I've never had to wait long for a table there.

                                they have excellent ha gao, XO cheong fun, xiao long bao (shanghai soup dumplings) - soup dumplings aren't my favorite food but this place does it well!

                                http://www.222.to/food/?co_id=37

                                Ton Kiang in the Richmond is Hakka style, i'm not sure what the difference is but there is a bit. they do have lots of variety though.

                                Yank Sing is expensive but has delicious cod, sea bass. mmm.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: pinkball

                                  I can't say that I've had dim sum at Ton Kiang, but there are only a half dozen or so Hakka dishes on the main menu. I'm guessing that there's not a huge Hakka influence on the dim sum there.

                                  1. re: lexdevil

                                    When they were located on Geary near Parker, they had a lot more Hakka dishes. We went there every time we came to town. When they moved further out, they started the dim sum emphasis and kind of dropped the Hakka.

                                    1. re: wally

                                      I used to go to the old location a lot too. Now TK is not so special. The former head chef retired a bit before the move.
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/20353...

                                      -----
                                      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                                      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                                      Yank Sing Banquet & Catering
                                      101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                      Ton Kiang
                                      5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                  2. re: pinkball

                                    Yes, China Village has good to very good old school dim sum. A solid place, when a craving for dim sum comes over you and you do not want to drive too far away from the Belmont to Palo Alto area.

                                    But the other newer dim sum houses have a more updated styling is dim sum.

                                    Another plus is that China Village will serve dim sum in the evening.

                                    I hope it does become crowded after you post. Sometime a post on this board will mob a eatry.

                                    Ton Kiang started out as Hakka food when it was on Broadway in Chinatown. But the founder who cooked has long retired and his children now run it so Hakka food has taken a back strop on the menu.

                                  3. Today, we ended up at House of Banquet (yes, just one) on Clement. Gaudy beyond belief, but the dim sum was pretty solid. Lots of carts and choices, lots of people, and very efficient front desk to keep things moving. Beef riblets, broccoli, tripe, jook, steamed cake and flaky egg tarts were good to excellent. Chicken feet, fried stuffed tofu and rice noodle rolls(beef) were so-so to good. Very satisfactory lunch, under $25 for nine dishes (that I can recall) including the obligatory tea charge for two.
                                    Best to get there before 11:30AM for immediate gratification (and parking).

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Sarah

                                      You feel it can beat the best of Vancouver?

                                      Never had beef riblets for dim sum, what are they like?

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Never claimed it could "beat the best of Vancouver," since I've never been there. HofB is a more than decent place for dim sum that OP might enjoy.
                                        Legendary Place in Oakland also has steamed beef riblets as a dim sum choice.

                                        1. re: Sarah

                                          Just asking for clarification, since this thread is seeking Vancouver quality.

                                          What are the beef riblets like at either HoB or Legendary Palace?

                                    2. "The Chinese food in the Bay Area has steady improved in recently and the gap has closed."

                                      It's all kind of amazing given that just a generation ago, Vancouver wasn't known for dim sum and not long before that, SF was the North American dim sum capital (far exceeding LA or NY in number served) owing to SF's long tradition of the largest Cantonese expat community outside China. Dim Sum was almost as much of an SF signature as crab and sourdough.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: eatzalot

                                        Yes, thirty years ago the Bay Area was the tops in North America (Vancouver was good then too), but starting twenty years ago as the Chinese from Hong Kong arrange to move to Canada the food got better quickly. Also a lot of ingredients still not available here from China is a easily available in Vancouver.

                                        A lot of Hong Kong money was inverted in Richmond/Vancouver has help the food.

                                        Back to the food and less on history.

                                      2. with over a billion of us around, and so many waves of emigration/assimilation into different cultures, its inevitable that there would be many different notions of what "authentic" "cantonese" "taiwanese" "etc" looks like. i've observed (and actually remembered a class in college covering this) that immigrant colonies tend to latch on to old customs even when the mother culture has evolved, and i find this to be especially true in chinese food.
                                        if you are looking for anything that even resembles vancouver HK food, i would suggest staying away from SF chinatown...i find vancouver food to be on par with what's served in HK/SZ/GZ in the 21st century, and my father claims SF chinatown is like a throwback to 50 years ago. i think you will be disappointed with our cantonese (i hear taiwanese and korean as well) food vs. LA - LA definitely has the same critical mass of new immigrants as vancouver, and the food is cooked to different flavor and presentation standards. if vancouver HK food is a "10", then i would put LA at at least "8.5/9" and SF to be "8" at most. the ones i've tried in the past few weeks are Elite in MP, and the old Farrell's spot (only remember the chinese name" sea harbor". im sortof nostalgic for farrells now!) on Rosemead Bl with the big chicken (what city is that?)

                                        zen peninsula- probably my fave in the bay area right now. i've had some really innovative dim sum the last 2-3 times i've been there. i had pretty good shu mai (from someone that finds har gow and shu mai almost kitschy and cute as i've eaten enough for 3 lifetimes). they make you jump through hoops to score "po tart" (portuguese egg tarts), only served sporadically, no takeout, but definitely satisfied a craving. decor is best described as suburban

                                        koi- honestly, ive been pretty disappointed the last few times i've been there... but its been about 3-4 months as i couldn't get myself to wait in that line and not be totally blown away. i agree with previous posters that the crab XLB is to die for, and if i recall, they even come with salt/pepper fried crab pieces. i'm just bummed that they are not as creative as they used to be... i've had some interesting things there that i no longer see- taro puffs with scallop/curry filling (vs the standard pork/ shrimp), and spinach "tzin bao" (potsticker-fried bao with some sort of seafood filling). the decor there is quite pleasant though (i'm assuming you dont mind noise)

                                        yank sing- white-washed dim sum, but its actually tasty if you accept it for what it is. as my mom says... "it tastes like ravioli but looks like dim sum!" the decor is pleasant if dated, food is pricey, service is annoyingly attentive (catering to the FIDI gweilo crowd)

                                        HK flower lounge is no longer a contender. i'm still nostalgic for the old "heung moon lau" in TST from my childhood and this is definitely a completely different animal.

                                        havent tried asian pearl so i can't speak for it, but i hear great things.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: food_whore

                                          can anyone suggest good xiao long bao in the bay area? my default is the millbrae shanghai dumpling shop, but i'm convinced the bay area must have a few more good XLB shops.
                                          anyone care to start a millbrae dumpling shop vs ding tai fung debate? (arcadia branch- not sure if its the same as the taiwan chain)

                                          1. re: food_whore

                                            Actually SF Chinatown might be more than 50 years in the past. You're right on about immigrant communities freezing the home culture in time. I can see it in some of the language I see still used which is considered archaic by today's Chinese. Agree with your Vancouver/LA/SF ratings on dim sum. The American name for Sea Harbor is Sea Harbour, and it's in Rosemead. There's even a chicken statue in the parking lot now--may have been moved from the branch that closed down.

                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                              The migration patterns of the Silicon Valley (Cupertino, San Jose, Santa Clara, etc) more closely reflect the migration patterns of Richmond, Vancouver. While both San Francisco and Vancouver have both historically drawn large numbers of immigrants, SF Chinatown is very much rooted in drawing a mix of rural Cantonese (SzeYup, Toisan, etc), Hong Kong, and Guangzhou immigrants. The migration patterns outside of these areas have been the professional classes settling into the suburbs from Hong Kong and Taiwan. For some reason, Vancouver has been the draw for more Cantonese from Hong Kong with more money and more well trained chefs and cooks, which can possibly be attributed to an easier entry into Canada versus stringent US laws and a competitive quota system post '65.

                                              What you see in the Bay Area now is businesses that cater to a growing middle to upper class of Chinese Americans from the peninsula starting in Millbrae/San Bruno all the way to San Jose with higher quality chefs, cooks and ingredients...which is definitely not the case ten to twenty years ago.

                                              Vancouver definitely has a leg up on the SF Bay Area, but I agree the gap is closing with the tide shifting towards the peninsula and south bay.

                                              I've had dim sum in Taishan (Toisan), Kaiping (Hoiping), and Guangzhou. All very different places from high end to hole in the wall...Would have to rank Guangzhou and Vancouver as my favorite places, but as a Cantonese person, I think we end up with our comfortable defaults for the places that are "not wrong"

                                              totally on a half related not, I love fat wong's in Millbrae for their Gnow Lam (clear broth beef brisket) and they have huge wonton...the closest thing to Hong Kong for me...(gow gay gnow lam in Seung Wan is the best.)

                                          2. I agree that if SF's historical North American prominance was overshadowed in the last couple decades, it may not be important to all current connoisseurs of dim sum (particularly if they can choose between regions!). Along with knowing that strong Cantonese food traditions here go back 150 years rather than 20. Some chow seekers here in SF may still appreciate knowing that background.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: eatzalot

                                              Another significant aspect (though I haven't yet found enough specific info to get my arms around the subject) may be that SF Cantonese cuisine is purer, in the sense that it doesn't come through a Hong Kong filter, and more rural/rustic, with Sze Yap roots (and constantly refreshed by new immigrants from that region). The Cantonese cuisine in Vancouver and TO is more likely more Sam Yap/Guangzhou in origin, with additional international influences from its sojourn in Hong Kong

                                            2. What I'd like to know is that for $6 to $8 tops, can you get an order of siu mai that contains scallops and abalone, for example in Vancouver? While these are 2002 or so prices at a very high end dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, that's what I call out of the box, considering even Koi Palace, with the exception of the crab XLB that Porthos mentioned, serves up standard fare (although at a much higher quality bar with higher prices). Maybe a tad bit less than $6, that's what you're paying for regular siu mai (with uggh.. canned corn) at Yank Sing. I swear I was scarred after that experience.

                                              When you read these gourmet/travel eat books about Hong Kong, there's always some interesting dim sum item that has been around for a while, but due to either cost or management clamping down on such innovation, won't ever see them in the SF Bay Area.

                                              In fact Yimster can I pick your memory on something? I beileve there was a discussion a while back on a report you did on Joy Luck San Mateo dim sum, where you basically did custom ordering (well that's how you order anyway at these chowdowns) and of course you knew what you wanted and how you wanted it done. Otherwise whatever you get from the kitchen and "dim sum por por" sales ladies are at varied mileage (and mostly inconsistent). Something about thinner skins for cheung fun and ja leung, which the chef then could easily do, but management didn't want the chef being "creative" that way.

                                              So if every dim sum restaurant owner is like that, clamping down on innovation, that's another reason why it's not quite the same as Vancouver (only if Vancouver is also offering dim sum exactly like Hong Kong).

                                              I have to say though, that even some of the best dim sum places that have already been mentioned, their Chinese teas can be inconsistent. Last two pots of chrysanthemum tea I had at The Kitchen were rather disappointing (that's the best choice of tea if you want to minimize caffeine intake). Though I also enjoyed a pot of jasmine. You can also "mix and match" for different flavors :-).

                                              Last note about Koi Palace, so far hands down they also make the best salted fish and chicken fried rice. Nice filler when you've run out of dim sum ideas (or their inventory).

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: K K

                                                Interesting items at Koi Palace include "King of Shu Mai" which is pork, shrimp, and dried scallop shu mai topped with sharkfin. Also, there are several scallop dumplings and scallop and shrimp dumplings at around $6-$8 per order (off menu). The ideal location is near the pond since the good/off the menu stuff comes out of the kitchen and disappears before it makes it to the other side of the room. The whole lobster dumplings are another unique item that you usually don't see at even the top SF/LA/NY dim sum houses (8 dumplings fro around $28 and the claw is fried salt/pepper style). Good but not as good as the whole crab XLB.

                                                That creative/innovative selection at Koi makes it my personal favorite to date and in my opinion would make it the best suited to compete with Vancouver's best.

                                                1. re: K K

                                                  Well, my ordering directly from the kitchen was to get the items fresh from the steamers and improve the timing of the dim sum to the table so that it did not get cold. Since I have always order the ja leung directly from the kitchen I have not looked in the past to see the thickness of the fun but I will next time I go.

                                                  Also I normally ask what is seasonal and what is new on the menu. All of this can be done by anyone. I do normally order some dish that is new. I have found the newer tea house allow there dim sum chef to be design new dishes.

                                                2. I am an ardent fan of City View around the corner from the Hilton Hotel on Washington and Kearney. I think they are as good if not better than the Yank Sing and you don't need to mortgage (that's a good joke) your house to pay the bill. There sesame chicken dim sum size serving is great.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Hughlipton

                                                    City View is horrible. Food is served cold. Better off getting dim sum from the to go shops in Chinatown.

                                                    1. re: jondis

                                                      Oh well, tastes and perceptions will differ.

                                                      1. re: Hughlipton

                                                        true..but to compare it to the quality of food in vancouver is a poor show for sf.

                                                        1. re: jondis

                                                          As someone who's been eating dim dum in the SF Bay Area for 36 years, I have to agree that City View is horribly overrated. It's not just cold, but the xia jiao (mandarin spelling) is rubbery. It's also not cheap! (Cheaper than Yank Sing, but that's not saying anything and it's not that much cheaper either!) If you're looking at dim sum restaurants only within SF city proper, then City View is up there, but, again, that's not saying much!

                                                          1. re: ambrosia

                                                            I've also been eating dim sum in SF since the days when Asia Garden was THE place to go and they still totted up your bill by counting the plates, and I agree that City View has really noting to recommend it. Heck, it doesn't have a view, either.

                                                  2. My 2 Cents:

                                                    IF you're going to be in SF only and end up in Chinatown (sounds like you may be visiting family) my default is Gold Mountain on Broadway. This is the best quality compared to places like New Asia, City View and Lychee Garden, which are the only other pushcart dim sum joints in the vicinity.

                                                    Ton Kiang and Yank Sing are for non-Chinese. I've never been there, but I'm sure it's not bad. The other thing is that they're in out of the way places, Richmond District and Embarcadero, so parking is not as convenient or require a valet. (Valet for dim sum? funny thing is I'd only see that in China...what a brave new world...) If you're going to the Richmond, you're better off at Mayflower which is authentically Chinese.

                                                    South Sea Restaurant in the Sunset also gets positive reviews. It's located around 11th and Irving.

                                                    Koi Palace has been branded as the high end place to take your parents, family, out of town guests, diplomats, city officials, to show off. Their interior kinda resembles a movie set from crouching tiger, hidden dragon, but it's not that gaudy. They have all the high end ingredients, very carefully plated dishes, and good food.

                                                    R&G Lounge is another place to go for good quality Chinese food in the City, best known for their salt and pepper fried crab. It's on an upper tier with koi palace, but probably not as much of the notoriety.

                                                    Dim Sum on the Peninsula:

                                                    Joy Luck Place (two locations, San Mateo and Cupertino?): I like the food over Kitchen in Millbrae (though I haven't been for dim sum) mostly because the food shows a little more care while Kitchen is kind of the solid Cantonese favorites, but done almost a little more homestyle, you can almost taste the carelessness from the wok hay...

                                                    I'm in the restaurant business myself for what it's worth, thank goodness not in the Chinese restaurant biz, but I do have my own preferences to good Chinese food.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: jondis

                                                      Ton Kiang and Yank Sing are for non-Chinese. I've never been there, but I'm sure it's not bad."

                                                      What an absurd thing to say.

                                                      When I've dined at Yank Sing, the place was full of folks of the Asian persuasion. If you'd been there, you might have noticed.

                                                      And the food was fabulous, by the way. I'm no dim sum expert, but I know good food when it passes my lips.

                                                      1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                        I'm just saying that's the perception...and I'm not the only one that has uttered it. would you rather I say that it's for people that fear loose hair and other gross acoutrements accompanying their chinese food? While it's absurd, that's also a reality.

                                                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                          I haven't been to Ton Kiang in ages but the last couple of times I was there, there were tons of Japanese and Korean tourists there, complete with tour guide books. If you think the mere fact that they are of the Asian persuasion makes these people dim sum experts...you are sadly mistaken. Just an FYI. This is not a diss against them; I am Korean myself.

                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                            To add to this, Americanized Asians or Asian Americans may have very different tastebuds than expats or those who grew up in Hong Kong, China etc.

                                                            What is considered authentic dim sum by some may not appeal to the palette of others, aka the supporters and mondo fans of Yank Kiang and Ton Sing etc.

                                                            Pork liver siu mai anyone? An old school favorite at Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong. I bet this won't sell at Yank Kiang Ton Sing. And steamed pork ribs with sour plum? Not as easy to find, although The Kitchen in Millbrae attempted it, but didn't come out that great (Chef Wai on the other hand, nailed this dish down).

                                                            There does seem to be a revival of uber old school flavors that seems to be taking forever for the Bay Area to catch up and cash in on. Stuff that was popular in Hong Kong aeons ago, now popping up all over tea houses and of course dim sum restaurants 40 to 100+ years old.

                                                            1. re: K K

                                                              Exactly. The crux of this post was comparing the palate for Vancouver and SF dimsum.

                                                              The typically Cantonese palate goes towards very different things than Americans or American born Chinese, which is something I'm still learning about being an ABC. However, with the rapid expansion of the global economy (I know this is overly used) information is spreading faster and if it's one thing Chinese people spread like wildfire is talk about food...along with gossip of course...

                                                              1. re: jondis

                                                                Well I think you hit the nail on the head. The style of dim sum has to fit the wishes of those eating it. I remember back in the day when the Hong Kong dim sum first arrived, and me complaining the pieces were too small. The old school dim sum served in the old San Francisco teahouse had larger pieces and the newer ones had smaller pieces. But as time when by the pieces got larger and larger when now the best har gow in BC is huge (Sun Su Wah) are at least 30% larger than normal.

                                                                I was told each time by my Father that dim sum meant to touch one's heart and was meant to be one mouthful

                                                                As I already have stated you could be living in Wisconsin or New Jersey. San Francisco is good enough for this old man.

                                                                Hope you find someone to go with to Asian Pearl soon. Joy Luck is also a great choice.

                                                          2. re: jondis

                                                            jondis:
                                                            I can't remember if I've seen Asian Pearl/Millbrae mentioned in this thread: Have you tried it and what do you think of it? FWIW I was very impressed with my first visit last week (I'm definitely not an authority on the subject but I know what tastes good and what has been carefully presented with high quality ingredients).

                                                            1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                              If you jump back up in the thread, there are a few mentions that say really good things. First time I've heard of it, though I don't make my way down the peninsula as much anymore, my parents are kinda stuck on Joy Luck. I should find some friends to yum cha down there with.

                                                            2. re: jondis

                                                              FWIW, Lichee Garden doesn't use push carts; Y. Ben House does, and I think there are at least a couple of others, though I can't recall which ones.