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best dim sum in SF?

vonmoishe Jan 1, 2009 03:49 PM

I'll be staying at a hotel near Union Sq, and won't have a car. What's the best dim sum that I can either walk to or take a taxi or BART to? I'll be eating on a Sunday morning. Thanks.

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  1. wolfe RE: vonmoishe Jan 1, 2009 03:57 PM

    This best you can walk or ride to.
    Additional entry edited out due to poster error, my bad.

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

    7 Replies
    1. re: wolfe
      pane RE: wolfe Jan 1, 2009 04:40 PM

      Coi has dim sum? Do you mean Koi Palace in Daly City?

      1. re: pane
        wolfe RE: pane Jan 1, 2009 05:04 PM

        You are,of course, correct. Good thing Coi is closed on Sunday.

      2. re: wolfe
        vonmoishe RE: wolfe Jan 1, 2009 06:27 PM

        Is there any difference between the 2 Yank Sing locations? The one you didn't mention on Stevenson St. actually looks closer.

        1. re: vonmoishe
          wolfe RE: vonmoishe Jan 1, 2009 06:45 PM

          Here's what opinionatedchef said. I am not sure that is still current information.

          1. re: wolfe
            Ruth Lafler RE: wolfe Jan 1, 2009 07:40 PM

            The Rincon branch is also much nicer, and it's in a more interesting neighborhood, especially on the weekend when the area around Stevenson is quite dead.

            It's about a 20-minute walk from Union Square, or you can take BART or Muni metro two stops (Powell to Embarcadero), or the F line street car.

          2. re: vonmoishe
            Truffle Dog RE: vonmoishe Jan 2, 2009 10:08 AM

            I find the Stevenson branch to be a little better The main thing is that the dining room at Stevenson is much smaller so the carts come around a little more frequently and it seems like the food is more consistently fresh out of the kitchen. In general Yank Sing is both great and expensive.

          3. re: wolfe
            essvee RE: wolfe Jan 6, 2009 05:38 PM

            Too damn expensive. It's great but not transcendent. And it's too damn expensive.

          4. Senor Popusa RE: vonmoishe Jan 1, 2009 07:57 PM

            You can walk to Gold Mountain in Chinatown from there. I have found Gold Mountain to be the best of the Chinatown options and it is a good value.

            Address is 644 Broadway. You can take Stockton Street up to broadway and turn right.

            I think Yank Sing is just ok and is exorbitantly priced.

            In the city I prefer Ton Kiang to Gold Mountain but its location is not easy for the OP to get to.

            Gold Mountain Restaurant
            644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

            2 Replies
            1. re: Senor Popusa
              rccola RE: Senor Popusa Jan 6, 2009 06:34 PM

              I always loved Ton Kiang, though I haven't been there in a few years. No, it wasn't as authentic as Koi Palace or little dives in Chinatown. But authentic seemed to always mean greasy and thick dough. I always wanted to ask if TK might be authentic but *upscale* authentic since the best food I had in Hong Kong years ago was also light and non-greasy.

              1. re: rccola
                choctastic RE: rccola Feb 8, 2010 07:28 AM

                Personally, I'd much rather go to Ton Kiang than Gold Mountain. Sure you have to elbow your way past too many tourists, but I generally have gotten great food there.

            2. Sarah RE: vonmoishe Jan 1, 2009 08:20 PM

              Or you can take the N Judah streetcar and get off on 15th-16th Av - then walk one block to South Sea Village on Irving for some pretty darn good dim sum... As with any other d/s place on Sundays, the earlier the lesser the wait.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Sarah
                intomeat RE: Sarah Jan 2, 2009 08:27 AM

                How recent was your visit to SSV? Our last visit was dreadful... mealy prawns and ammoniated crabs. Obviously not fresh.

                1. re: intomeat
                  Sarah RE: intomeat Jan 2, 2009 09:07 AM

                  About 3 weeks ago. No crab for us, but the dim sum was good. When were you there?

                  1. re: Sarah
                    intomeat RE: Sarah Jan 3, 2009 07:53 AM

                    about 6 weeks ago. I suppose dim sum would be okay if Har Gaw is not in the picture,

                    1. re: Sarah
                      Shane Greenwood RE: Sarah Jan 3, 2009 08:17 PM

                      I was there today (1/3) and it was good, but not the best in the city. Certainly worth trying though. Get the tea service to start, it's a lot of fun to watch them prepare and pour. We were pleased with the flavor of all dishes including the fried crab claw.

                    2. re: intomeat
                      Melanie Wong RE: intomeat Jan 6, 2009 03:27 PM

                      Were you there on a weekday or weekend? I ask because I've been there twice during the week and had some less than fresh seafood as well. Here's my report,

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

                  2. Chandavkl RE: vonmoishe Jan 2, 2009 09:02 AM

                    I'll concur on Yank Sing but to elaborate on another poster's comment you won't come close to finding a more expensive dim sum restaurant (on an item for item basis) in the United States.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Chandavkl
                      Sarah RE: Chandavkl Jan 2, 2009 09:09 AM

                      Harmony across the GG will give YS a run for the money.

                      1. re: Sarah
                        Chandavkl RE: Sarah Jan 2, 2009 09:59 AM

                        I wouldn't encourage anybody to try Harmony based on this recent thread (unless "run for the money" meant "will make you run out of money".


                    2. yimster RE: vonmoishe Jan 2, 2009 07:28 PM

                      The Bay Area board get this question every couple of months. But after today when my cousin took me to New Asia for dim sum I feel I should post about it.

                      But first my two cents. Chinatown dim sum is loud, busy and pushy. It not that cheap compared to the Richmond and Sunset areas of San Francisco. If given a choice I would stick to the mid Peninsula, but that is another post.

                      Back to New Asia.

                      Only two dishes were really good. The Har Gaw was huge with lots and lots of whole shrimp and the XO turnip cakes were also a hit.

                      I was told the lave buns were good, but I normally do not have the space to have buns at dim sum or cooked Gai Lan either ( a small dish was 8 bucks, which I could buy five pounds of for less than 8 bucks)

                      The rest of the dishes were just OK and for the most part cold.

                      So if you want something good I would take BART to Millbare. You can check the board for the best there.

                      Dim sum is not my favorite, for me a good hot bowl of won ton noodle soup on a cold wet day would just be fine.

                      Which is what I had for dinner at home. Home made won ton and bamboo noodles which I pick up in the City.

                      Hope you find something good.

                      If you want to stay in the City I like S&T in the Sunset.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: yimster
                        Nancy Berry RE: yimster Jan 2, 2009 07:58 PM


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

                      2. Zinc Saucier RE: vonmoishe Jan 3, 2009 08:02 AM

                        Since it's pretty close, I'd recommend City View. I believe it's on Industrial off of Kearny. It's right by the park. You can walk up Grant or take the cable car from Powell into Chinatown.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Zinc Saucier
                          yimster RE: Zinc Saucier Jan 3, 2009 08:07 AM

                          City View is on Commercial St. A clear, bright dim sum place. Decent dim sum not great. Better choice than most in Chinatown.

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

                        2. toitoi RE: vonmoishe Jan 6, 2009 06:32 PM

                          Hasn't anyone tried HANG AH.

                          Slow service, but tasty, everything cooked to order

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: toitoi
                            Chandavkl RE: toitoi Jan 6, 2009 09:33 PM

                            I was scarred for life after trying it in the 80s. Is it really worth visiting now?

                            1. re: Chandavkl
                              toitoi RE: Chandavkl Jan 7, 2009 04:22 PM

                              The first time I went there was in 1959 (not a typo). I went back in the mid-70s when I had moved to Los Angeles, and visited San Francisco. I ate there in December 2007, and again this past month.

                              Don't know about the 80s, but I know that the owners are new, and certainly not the same from 1959 or 1976. At that time, trays of dim sum were carried through the small room, and it closed at 2pm.

                              On this visit, the food was fine, the bill - inexpensive, but the service is terrilby slow.

                              1. re: toitoi
                                rworange RE: toitoi Jan 24, 2009 06:56 PM


                                Hang Ah Tea Room
                                1 Pagoda Pl, San Francisco, CA

                          2. s
                            Sharon S. RE: vonmoishe Jan 7, 2009 06:34 AM

                            I happen to like Tian Sing which is right in Union Square at 138 Cyril Magnin. The prices are good and the dim sum is fresh.

                            1. elvisahmed RE: vonmoishe Feb 6, 2010 04:20 PM

                              Well IMHO there is no comparison to Koi Palace in Bay area or perhaps North America (with the exception of Lai Wah Heen and 2-3 other places in Toronto) I tried this no frills place called House of Banquet on Clement & 11th and was pleasantly surprised. The dim sum was fresh and there was good variety and very easy on the wallet. I would recommend if you want to get your dim sum fix on a budget.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: elvisahmed
                                toitoi RE: elvisahmed Feb 6, 2010 05:05 PM

                                You really need to get your selfdown Los Angeles and to the San Gabriel Valley where fantastic Dim Sum abounds.

                                1. re: toitoi
                                  K K RE: toitoi Feb 6, 2010 06:33 PM

                                  One should note that dim sum tastes best when steamed in the traditional bamboo containers. LA health county has all but outlawed bamboo steamers so everyone is using metal (including Din Tai Fung for XLB). So while I see good competitive pricing in LA/SGV/MP area, and maybe they are better than SF city in general, I cannot seem them totally outshining Koi Palace, and the dim sum places in the Peninsula along Millbrae El Camino Real (perhaps Chandavkl can comment on the comparison).

                                  1. re: K K
                                    Chandavkl RE: K K Feb 6, 2010 08:29 PM

                                    Koi Palace is #1. The menu driven SGV places are then slightly ahead of the Millbrae restaurants.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl
                                      choctastic RE: Chandavkl Feb 8, 2010 07:44 AM

                                      I'm not sure I agree that the food is that much better than say, Elite, but Koi Palace is definitely #1 in terms of the bustling ambiance.

                              2. f
                                FieryCraft RE: vonmoishe Feb 9, 2010 11:22 AM

                                Pearl City is a great place, but go EARLY or the wait takes forever!!

                                1. BernalKC RE: vonmoishe Mar 8, 2010 08:05 AM

                                  Time to add a boat load of links (many are in references to this other, older, pre-mapping Dim Sum thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/316011):

                                  1. Robert Lauriston RE: vonmoishe Mar 8, 2010 08:37 AM

                                    A visiting friend was going to the airport so we finally got around to trying this place.

                                    The roast pork was first-rate, served warm with perfectly crisped skin.

                                    Taro cake ($6.90) was dry and starchy, needed some sauce. Ridiculously huge helping, I tried to get a half order but language problems interfered.

                                    Pan-fried oysters ($6.90) were very nice, though not as good as Great China's.

                                    Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce ($6.90) was first-rate, they either use a higher quality sauce than I've had before or they make it themselves.

                                    A bowl of stuff we couldn't identify turned out to be pork ribs simmered in a sweet sauce, I didn't care for it.

                                    Shrimp-stuffed eggplant ($3.60) was good but a bit short on the eggplant compared with versions I've had elsewhere.

                                    Spareribs with preserved vegetable over flat noodle ($4.50) was hard to eat but really good.

                                    XO spicy sauce dumplings ($4.50) was new to me, shrimp stuffed in an open-topped rice wrapper and topped with spicy shredded dried scallops.

                                    Shanghai dumplings ($4.50) were tasty but a bit sloppy and the wrappers were a bit thick.

                                    Good place, but not much cheaper than Yank Sing, which is still the best I've had (with the possible exception of the defunct Harbor Village), and overall I think no better than East Ocean in Alameda, which is significantly cheaper and has less of a wait.

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

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      david kaplan RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 8, 2010 02:15 PM

                                      If the bowl of pork ribs was actually an oversized mug, then it is the coffee ribs. Vaguely coffee-flavored pork ribs are slathered in a sickly sweet creamy sauce. I think it's supposed to be a play on coffee with milk and sugar, which would be amusing if the dish weren't inedibly cloying.

                                      1. re: david kaplan
                                        Thomas Nash RE: david kaplan Mar 8, 2010 02:43 PM

                                        As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the coffee flavored pork in a coffee mug is a variant of a very famous Singapore dish originated by Sam Leong, a celebrity chef in those parts, for the Jade Restaurant which is (used to be) in the Fullerton Hotel.

                                        You can find it on P 106 (with a picture but no coffee cup) of his book, "A Wok Through Time".

                                        Myself, I think it's great, but preferences are complicated. In Singapore it fits in, at a dinner, with his very post-modern Chinese cooking. At Koi, as dim sum, I could see it might come as quite a surprise. Anyway, I doubt this is the dish Robert was talking about.

                                        1. re: Thomas Nash
                                          david kaplan RE: Thomas Nash Mar 8, 2010 02:53 PM

                                          I don't see any other comments by you in this thread unless under a different name, but thanks for explaining that the Koi Palace coffee ribs aren't an original idea. I thought it was very clever but just too sweet. It was a while since I had it -- were the ribs topped with condensed milk or with sweetened coconut milk? And, yes, it was a big surprise.

                                          1. re: david kaplan
                                            Thomas Nash RE: david kaplan Mar 8, 2010 03:26 PM

                                            You are correct. It was not this thread "best dim sum in SF", it was in another thread "Best Dim Sum in SF". Upper and lower case make a difference... maybe someone should consolidate these two threads...

                                            The Permalink for the post was http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3160...

                                            I believe it is real whipped cream flavored with coffee. It melts over the ribs quickly so the effect is most interesting when it comes fresh from the kitchen. The recipe in Leong's cookbook is for pork loin not ribs, but my memory is that we had ribs at the Jade. The Jade seems to have closed, but Leong is executive chef of a group of high end restaurants in Singapore where I believe this dish is still served.

                                            I wish someone of his level would come our way. I chatted with him the day we were there -- he was meeting with some very rich Singapore family planning a wedding banquet. I asked him why he doesn't come to San Francisco. He said he had been working with Wolfgang Puck and might do something in the States. But it has been several years and nothing has happened. It probably was the best Chinese meal we ever had. Sigh...

                                        2. re: david kaplan
                                          Robert Lauriston RE: david kaplan Mar 8, 2010 04:37 PM

                                          Ah, coffee ribs. That explains the dollop of cream and service in a coffee cup. I would not order that again. I can imagine that the dish maybe could be good, though personally I almost never like sweet meat dishes.

                                          1. re: david kaplan
                                            PorkButt RE: david kaplan Mar 8, 2010 05:58 PM

                                            More on coffee ribs:

                                            Seetoh claims that it originated in Malaysia. Doesn't seem very appealing considering that the hawker version is made with instant coffee that includes creamer and sugar and then more sugar is added in.

                                            1. re: PorkButt
                                              Robert Lauriston RE: PorkButt Mar 8, 2010 06:23 PM

                                              If you like that, you'll love this mutton neck dessert:


                                        3. c
                                          chocolatetartguy RE: vonmoishe Mar 8, 2010 06:13 PM

                                          I don't know that it's the best, but my favorite is Good Luck Dim Sum on Clement. I seldom go anywhere else because I am always happy at Good Luck. I especially like the shrimp and chive dumplings, cha sieu bow and the shrimp and taro dumplings.

                                          I cut my eye teeth on dim sum and remember my paw paw taking us to a yum cha place down an alley across from some basketball courts in SF Ctown. Does anyone remember the name of that place (in the 60's).

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                            BillSF RE: chocolatetartguy Mar 8, 2010 07:16 PM

                                            The restaurant that you're thinkng of is probably Hang Ah Tea Room, located in the alley next to the playground on Sacramento Street between Grant and Stockton Streets.

                                            1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                              Brfoodie RE: chocolatetartguy Mar 8, 2010 07:22 PM

                                              How expensive isYank Sing? I looked for the menu but couldn't find any prices. Will be visiting SF in April and was thinking of going.

                                              1. re: Brfoodie
                                                nocharge RE: Brfoodie Mar 8, 2010 07:44 PM

                                                The following prices are probably a little outdated and a bit too low, but should give you a rough idea.

                                                1. re: Brfoodie
                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: Brfoodie Mar 9, 2010 12:29 PM

                                                  More expensive than other places, how much more depends on what you order. Some price discussion:


                                                2. re: chocolatetartguy
                                                  cosmogrrl RE: chocolatetartguy Mar 9, 2010 02:03 PM

                                                  It's the Hang Ah Tea room, BillSF is correct. It has new owners, but it is very tasty still. No carts and you have to order off a menu. I'd say the best Dim Sum in Chinatown. Brightly colored interior at no extra charge.

                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl
                                                    chocolatetartguy RE: cosmogrrl Mar 9, 2010 03:00 PM

                                                    Thanks to both of you. I rarely venture into Ctown these days, but I have fond childhood memories of going there with my grandmother.

                                                    1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                                      toitoi RE: chocolatetartguy Mar 10, 2010 01:04 PM

                                                      I first encountered Hang Ah in 1959. I've been going back every time I'm in San Francisco. Last time was in December. The service is a bit slow, and the crowd predominately Caucasian.

                                                      From my recent visit report

                                                      Driving from LA on December 23rd, we settled into our hotel in Chinatown and immediately took off to HANG AH, a tea house I’ve been eating at, off and on, since 1959. Their Hot and Sour Soup has the bite it needs. Har Gow had tender shrimp in filmy dough. Crispy Shrimp is a wonder and the Beef Balls were meltingly tender.

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