Another Dim Sum Debate
We are heading to SF in 2 weeks and I'm trying to do my homework and give so much thanks to fellow hounders who keep putting up with my endless questions...special thanks to wolfe...We have secured reservations to Canteen...decided that mexican would be better in the Mission for lunch and I'm still trying to investigate Peruvian a little more...but I keep going in circles regarding Dim Sum.
This is what I can assess -
Yank Sing - super pricey and not worth it unless it's on an expense account (and we don't have one)...also I can't justify spending over $5 for shu mai.
Koi Palace - huge selection, great dim sum, terribly long wait especially if you aren't Chinese and we aren't...and horrible rude service.
City View and Ton Kiang - seem to get mentioned but not much variety.
Is there anything with the variety of Yank Sing or Koi Palace without the unwanted negatives? We have a car and are willing to travel if necessary. Also I'm looking to either go on Thursday or Saturday morning
Whether you are Chinese or not does not matter with Koi Palace, as most of us Chinese plebs have to wait anyway (unless you have an "in" with management and staff, or are some big VIP golfer spendy type which I suppose are a lot more rarer these days, then perhaps you get better service). I've been to lesser dim sum joints where the service is mostly horrible, but then again when a place is packed to the gills like a zooyard, getting a teapot refilled with hot water by asking only once is considered professional ;-).
re: K K
it's also the service once seated. i have been going to koi palace for years and years (native san franciscan), but after my last visit i swore i would never go again without asians in my party, preferably cantonese or mandarin speakers. service was so abominable that it was the first time in my life that i didn't leave any tip.
i realize it's only fair to offer specifics and frankly i can't remember if i posted on this or not, but issues included carts and trays that never came by (but circled all the asian tables), ordering off the menu to compensate for said missing carts and being informed 45 minutes later and only upon our asking that the kitchen was not making the requested dim sum so they would not be forthcoming, issues getting tea refilled (and yes, i know how to position the lid for "more tea please"), and making another 40 minutes to request the bill, get the bill, and get the charge draft. i think in 2.5 hours, i managed to get four plates. stunning.
koi palace has absolutely the best dim sum but i can't go back without a speaker.
We have been very pleased with City View, and found no lack of variety. Given the price/quality equation, we much prefer it to Yank Sing, and have been going there every 2 weeks or so for about 6 months.
We, my daughter and I, went to KP on a week day, as I said in a previous post. We were in the minority. We waited 10 or less minutes at lunch time. perhaps not the best table but service was attentive and professional. My daughter thought one of the young ladies circulating with the food was giving her the evil eye because she didn't want what she was carrying, but otherwise no problems. While it has been suggested that you may not get all the choices on a week day, there were enough for us.
Hate to say it, but the dim sum in the bay area is still leagues behind what you get in Hong Kong--SIGH--which I know is not answering the original question, but I wanted to get that out there right away to manage expectations (so if your experience turns out bad, don't swear off dim sum for the rest of your life because it really is a lot better in Hong Kong). That said, the best place is still Koi Palace, and love it or hate it, it is still the place that all the Hong Kong transplants go to if they want the best HK-style Cantonese food here.
I think you should only go to Koi Palace for dim sum on Monday or Thursday, and possibly Friday. It's too crazy on the weekends so even if you can get a table and don't mind the service, the food is going to be subpar. This was the case once when I went twice in the same week, the first time on Thursday and the second time on Sunday. We ordered almost the same dishes and the quality was substantially below par on Sunday. For instance, the rice noodles were a lot thicker, the skin on the shrimp dumpling broke more easily, etc. Of course, this is only a sample size of one but I think it makes sense since the kitchen is overwhelmed on the weekends.
I've had dim sum at Yank Sing a few times over the years and actually think the quality is pretty good. I think they do a better job at quality control and is substantially more hygienic than Koi Palace (with the latter I really hate the stench coming from the carpet the minute you walk into the restaurant, not to mention the restroom is just gross). But there are two huge problems with Yank Sing: (1) it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive and (2) the dim sum variety is reminiscent of what you found back in the 1980s and reflects none of the evolution in dim sum in the last 20-30 years.
Just to give you an idea, the dim sum at Yank Sing is so expensive that it is either the same price as or MORE expensive than what you find at Fook Lam Moon, Lung King Heen, Lei Garden, etc, which are some of the best places for dim sum in Hong Kong, the very capital of Cantonese food and dim sum by extension. The quality might be good at Yank Sing, especially compared to what you can find in the bay area, but it is nowhere near the quality of the food at places aforementioned, and to pay so much is a huge turn-off.
The variety at Yank Sing is also really limited and outdated. Last time I went they were serving walnut prawns (which is an American invention) and peking duck (which is not Cantonese food, and definitely not a dim sum by Hong Kong standards).
I guess some places that are passable for dim sum and not too expensive or gross include: (1) Mayflower on Geary and 27th out in the Richmond (2) ... hmm I can't think of other places!