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Jul 7, 2008 10:47 PM

Best old school chow sui bow (pork bun) in SF Area

Ok, my 1'st post..I dream of the old Tung Fong on Pacific ave in San Francisco C-town. Yes, its gone a long time ago, but had never forgotten to pick up the best pork buns in San Francisco Chinatown in the 1960/70 ? So then,where can i find a chow sui bow this good ? (Steamed the old school way, with the smooth bun, not that Hong Kong/Taiwan stuff open top but the Cantonese/Tsangnese style) ...

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  1. Welcome WKK....

    You might check out Dick Lee Pastry on Jackson between Grant and Stockton. Old school,'s been there for a long, long time. Of course it's cheap and you can do a quick comparo in the ' Delicous Dim Sum a couple of doors down...very old school as well.

    Look forward to your follow up report.

    Dick Lee Pastry Shop
    716 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: ML8000


      Delicious Dim Sum
      752 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. re: ML8000

        Dck Lee has moved across the street and down the block to 716 Jackson. I thnk they use the fluffy, split-top bun though.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          I didn't know, thanks. Don't go into SF C-town much any more. I think they have the smooth top however. That's what I remember as a kid but I could be on drugs.

          1. re: ML8000

            I mentioned the move (buried in an earlier thread) and I think Melanie Wong reported on the zongzi at Dick Lee since the move. They now have longer hours and a spiffier, brighter room complete with a big flat-screen TV. They're featuring an AYCE dim sum & BBQ buffet for $5.99.

      2. So I think you're looking for a yeast-leavened dough rather than the more common cake-like baking powder raised dough. Yong Kee on Jackson has yeast buns but the cha siu filling is mediocre at best and this place is better known for their large chicken buns and vegetable (with pork) buns. I don't recall finding cha siu bao like this at any other shop.

        I'm a bit puzzled by your association of the yeast bun with the Cantonese (and what is Tsangnese?) because I've been around Guangdong and the norm appears to be a cake-like bun for cha siu bao and a yeast bun for choy bao.

        Yong Kee
        732 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

        1. I don't have an answer for you because I don't live in the Bay Area anymore, but your post triggered so many memories of what was one of my very favorite restaurants of any type anywhere. My husband and I used to drive over the Bay Bridge to eat at the Tung Fong when we were undergrads at Berkeley in the early 1970's. The waitresses were stoic and the owner, an older man who also worked the cash register, never acted as though he recognized us even after we had eaten there dozens of times. But ... we really didn't care because the dim sum was absolutely ambrosial. One beautiful summer day we bought pork bows to go and ate them sitting outside in Golden Gate Park, accompanied by a bottle of Mumm's champagne. Heaven. We moved to the East Coast in 1979 and it was years before I returned to the Bay Area on a business trip. One of the first things I did was abandon my colleagues (who weren't interested in a Chinese lunch) to rush over to Pacific Avenue and Tung Fong dim sum. When I saw that the restaurant no longer existed and had been replaced by a very pale imitation, I could have cried. The owners of the new restaurant told me that once the Tung Fong owners got too old to work there just wasn't anyone to step in so they closed down. Well, I think we all have memories of a favorite restaurant or two that we wish were still here. The Tung Fong is a big one for me. So, thanks for the memories!

          2 Replies
          1. re: simmonm1

            Actually the place that replaced Tung Fong in the early 1990s, Dol Hol, is one a favorite of many 'hounds on this board, to the extent one is confined to Chinatown for their dim sum. I personally prefer the baked cha shu bao at You's Dim Sum (675 Broadway) and am not sure which style they use for the steamed one, but you can check them out. The good news is that there are a lot of dim sum bakeries clustered together these days on Broadway, Stockton and Jackson, so you can check them out pretty quickly.

            1. re: simmonm1

              I vaguely remember those smooth-top buns. Weren't there plain ones for BBQ pork, and a red-dotted one to indicate the ni won bow? Perhaps I'm losing my memory...

            2. There's only 2 places I can think of that makes bbq pork buns that way. One is Yank Sing (if you like to spend the money). The other place is Jook Time (take out dim sum).

              Both are ok. I've never seen these until my folks told me that that's how they used to make them.

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

              Jook Time
              3398 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

              6 Replies
              1. re: asianstamp

                Yank Sing's to-go counters charge $1.45 for a steamed BBQ pork bun. Not a big investment to check it out.

                The tops are twisted rather than smooth so they're not exactly the way they were on Broadway in the 70s:


                1. re: asianstamp

                  When is "used to"? I've been eating in Chinatown since 1962 and don't recall anything other than the fluffy, split-top version. There's the smallish ground-pork filled rou bou around (Good Mong Kok makes them) that have smooth wrappers, but that's another matter.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    I remember when I first encountered them at Yank Sing on Broadway in the 70s, they were smooth-topped balls.

                    They're still not split-top today, as you can see from the photo I linked to in my previous post.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      But back in the 70s and now, cha siu bao like that were and are exceptions to the rule, wouldn't you agree?

                      1. re: PorkButt

                        I don't believe I ever saw a split-top bun until more recently.

                    2. re: Xiao Yang

                      My parents went to Yank Sing back in the day (1950's) when they were ran by Florence (the matriarch) and was a real dive in Broadway. They said it was made w/o a split top. Yes Yank Sing to Go still sells the old fashion smooth top version.

                  2. Sunset Bakery on 9th between Judah and Kirkham (on the north east side) in the Inner Sunset.