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Help me find this Dim Sum Restaurant!!!

it's in Chinatown. i don't remember the name or the street it was on!!! but had some really great dim sum years ago and would like to go there again on our visit to SF this week. they had carts, har gao was the best i've ever had, and the interior was nothing to write home about. the price was real cheap. the two of us ate for under $20. urgh! but can't remember the name of the place!

i just remember parking at an underground parking lot near Bank of America, walking up about a block. i want to say part of the name was either Jade or Emerald. but i'm not too sure!
if i see the name or the building, i'm sure i'll remember. anyone wanna help trigger my memory?

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  1. Sorry to say your description isn't unusual. How many people would you estimate the restaurant seated, or was it just a steam table joint that was mainly takeout?

    Also, some local dim sum houses are consistent over the years, but many have ups and downs, ownership changes, and chef changes surprisingly frequently so perhaps the best approach is just to search on the board for chinatown and dim sum to see what the current cheap favorites are.

    1. Unfortunately your description is quite generic. Perhaps you parked at Portsmouth Square garage and then walked up towards or even past Grant Ave. Was it a fairly sizable restaurant? There's Great Eastern, 649 Jackson. Imperial Palace used to be at 919 Grant, Grand Palace at 950 Grant Ave. Four Seas at 731 Grant Ave. New Asia is at 772 Pacific. Further up at 835 Pacific is Y.Ben House, but that's only been there since 2001. It was previously Hong Kong Tea House, Royal Hawaii, Golden Garden and Pacific Regent. Do any of these names ring a bell? If not there are other names we can throw out.

      1. imperial palace rings a bell! i think that might be it!
        it used to be on grant? where is it now? did they relocate or is it gone?

        1 Reply
        1. re: fatnoodles

          Imperial Palace on Grant closed down a few years ago. It was kind of high end for its day, its day being the 1970s and 1980s, located in a very nice upstairs dining room. A new place called Imperial Palace opened up a couple of years ago in the old Golden Dragon spot (think 1977 massacre), and I don't know if they're related. Probably not relevant since the new Imperial Palace isn't very good. In any event the best dim sum these days is in the San Gabriel Valley, with suburban Bay Area restaurant close on their heels. S. F. Chinatown dim sum is passable at best.

        2. I think I know the one you are think of. But the name is on the tip of my tongue. It on Clay and just about a half a block from the underground parking and a block away from the BofA on Grant. Something Pearl.

          Imperial Palace never served dim sum on Grant Ave. It was never cheap, more of a high end Cantonese. In the day they and Empress of China were the two high end places in Chinatown.

          10 Replies
          1. re: yimster

            That would be Oriental Pearl, which is still there. Also, it was 20 to 30 years ago, but every time we visited SF we dropped by my uncle's stationery store on Grant Ave., he'd immediately hustle us down the book for dim sum, whether he or we were hungry or not, and I'm pretty sure it was at Imperial Palace. Actually, the only thing I really remember was the apple cider they served!

            1. re: Chandavkl

              I only wish we could ask your Uncle Wilson, but sadly we can not. If my Father could be asked we could be sure but that to is not possible. Maybe someone else remembers.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                There was a Pearl River (City?) (next to JJ or J&J - both served dimsum) on Jackson betw Grant/Kearny -- could that be it? This was years ago, not sure if it's still there.

                1. re: Sarah

                  Pearl River is still going strong. JJ is now Kay Cheung.

                2. re: Chandavkl

                  I stand corrected. Called a cousin and was told that for a short while they did have dim sum. They had it for a short time just before closing. Why did I miss it, I was away at college during that time frame. Told I did not miss much.

                  1. re: yimster

                    It would have been in the mid-90's when I had dim sum at Imperial Palace, about 4 or 5 year before they closed (Spring '99?). So you were just a colllege kid then, eh?

                    I thought it was very good dim sum.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      No, my cousin said it was in the late 60's when she had the dim sum. When I was go. I petty sure that it was long gone by the 90's. I guess I have have to call another one of my sources who worked in Chinatown.

                3. re: yimster

                  I am pretty sure I had dim sum at Imperial Palace when it was at 919 Grant, but I don't think they had carts.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    Found an Internet reference which mentioned Imperial Palace serving dim sum "between 2pm and 5pm." The hours don't make sense, but that does indicate the existence of dim sum.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      I thought IP was a dinner only house... but that's probably because we only had dinners there...

                  2. darn, i went on Imperial Palace website and this is not the place. Yimster, i believe you and i are thinking of the same place. thanks for the cross streets. i'll just go and rely on my spidey sense rather than my spotty memory. thanks y'll!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fatnoodles

                      I'm guessing the current Imperial Palace isn't the same restaurant anyway. Chinese names appear to be different.

                    2. An underground parking garage near the Bank of America (building?) would be St. Mary's Square garage, which would put you around California and Grant. But nothing resembling "Jade" or "Emerald" comes to mind.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                        i think there was a small market diagonally cross the street. when walking up the hill from the parking lot, the restaurant is on the right hand side. the place wasn't very big. one story. maybe seats 100 at the most? it had a large double door entrance w/ ring handles, and a statute of something next to it. does that help anyone?

                        xiao yang, any place at california and grant that you'd recommend?

                        1. re: fatnoodles

                          okay, could it be Empress of China? do they serve dim sum?

                          1. re: fatnoodles

                            There's really nothing at California and Grant I'd recommend, definitely not Cathay House.

                            This description makes me wonder if it wasn't the Portsmouth Square Garage after all where you parked, and the restaurant Oriental Pearl. There is a small market diagonally across the street (Wai Kin), though I can't picture double doors or a statue. Maybe I'll take a look today.


                            1. re: fatnoodles

                              Sounds like you were on a side street, not Grant Ave., so maybe it could be Oriental Pearl. How long ago did you go to the restaurant? Oriental Pearl opened up in the early 1990s. California and Grant is not a good place to eat since the restaurants at or near that corner are very touristy.

                            2. re: Xiao Yang

                              Only Jade or Emerald I can think of is Royal Jade Seafood on Jackson, just east of Grant, but that's been gone for a few years.

                            3. How many years is "years ago"? If you want to find this exact restaurant for some purpose, that's one thing. If all you want is to find some good dim sum, there are plenty of good places, although sadly none of them in Chinatown.

                              1. thanks so much for trying, everyone. i really appreciate your help. your replies helped me at least narrow down the streets. we will go and try to find it when we're in SF tomorrow. i realize there are so many of these dim sum places, but this was the one my spouse and i went to on our first trip to SF when we got married. so we'd like to go back to it for old times sake.