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Feb 16, 2009 09:40 AM

Best Dim Sum?

Ok, I''m sure you've been asked this a million times, so sorry for the repetition. We are NY'ers coming to San Fran in June. Your Chinatown is the best & we love dim sum but have never had it in San Fran. Which are your favorite places to go to for it?

As a point of reference for us, whenever we go to Toronto we must go to Wai Lah Heen for their dim sum. (if any of you have traveled there....)

THANKS Chowhounders!!

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  1. Since you know this question has been asked a million times, and I'm sure you did a simple search like "best dim sum", what do you think about these threads?

    1. Best dim sums are not in Chinatown. Do a search and you'll find several recent and long discussions on the subject.

      1. Yeah, if you've been to Lai Wah Heen you wouldn't want to touch anything in San Francisco Chinatown, and I'm not sure if anything in the Bay Area will meet with your expectations. The good thing is that if you've been to Lai Wah Heen, you won't be shocked by the outrageous prices at Yank Sing.

        15 Replies
        1. re: Chandavkl

          Just because I've been to Lai Wah Heen doesn't mean I want to spend and arm/leg for dim sum...I gave that as my gauge for what I would compare taste/flavor to.

          Reading the dim sum links...or I should say 'dim sum wars' makes is like asking a NY'er where to get the best pizza. Reading everyone's opinions just made me more confused and I feel like saying 'fugetaboutit".

          Dare I ask...what's everyone's favorite mexican places?

          1. re: synergy

            You might want to post the Mexican request in a new topic, since people who are interested in Mexican might not want to read yet another thread about dim sum.

            You might also want to take at look at the report from NYers currently at or near the top of the board.

            1. re: synergy

              Taste wise, therefore, Yank Sing would probably be the only recommendation within the city limits, so factoring in the cost angle you probably need to leave the city and go to someplace like Koi Palace in Daly City.

              1. re: synergy

                You are right about "wars" and I think that's sad. There should be room for different opinions and "values" -- and accepting that others may disagree.

                I don't want to return to Koi Palace because I find it an unpleasant experience. But, I wish I could compare their prices for dim sum with Yank Sing. I wish I knew that as a fact.

                However, I would choose Yank Sing (of these two out of the many dim sum places) because I think the dim sum is very good ... and I like their other features ... reservations honored as closely as possible, free parking on weekends, reduced during the week, comfortable and beautiful room, all waitstaff wear 2-way radios so you can place special requests with anyone without delay.

                I think that makes my 25 mile trip to SF into a pleasure. While I am writing this, steady rain is reinforcing my thoughts of comfort and customer service.

                I recognize that Koi Palace is very popular on this board, and generally. You may prefer it as so many do. Don't "fugetaboutit" but don't stress about it either. You are seeing differing opinions about WINNERS. Try to find time for both!

                1. re: anyhow

                  yank sing makes for a pleasant sunday brunch. get there around 11:30 a.m. or so. i keep going back because they don't bore me and don't disappoint. it's a little pricey and, if you allow it to happen, you can feel rushed. don't let it happen. weekdays can be downright serene for lunch. i'm talking the rincon center location here.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    I'd say go to Koi Palace on a Monday or Thursday afternoon at either 11am or 1pm. Especially in this economy you will beat the crowd and not have to wait for a table. Service will be better, food will be better (the selection is 99% the same on weekday as it is on weekend), and ambiance and everything else will probably be better since no one is rushed.

                    Koi Palace is one of those places that is serious about the food and makes a big effort to stay up to date with what's going on in Hong Kong. As a result, if there is a new dim sum that's all the rage in Hong Kong, you'll probably find it within 12 months at Koi Palace. It might not be as good as what you had in Hong Kong, but the fact that they have it reflects their commitment to keeping up to standards.

                    Yank Sing makes decent dim sum but (1) the price is so ridiculous that it is more expensive than the top places in Hong Kong and (2) the selection is so westernized that you will find stuff like peking duck and walnut prawns on the dim sum menu.

                    1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                      yank sing is anything but adventurous. it is, however, pretty good and the consistency is repeatable. pricey? yes.

                      i like hong kong. try to get there at least once a year. any thoughts on which restaurants there will influence kp/others down the road?

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Hmm I'm not sure if there's one restaurant in particular that the mgmt and kitchen at Koi Palace will follow in particular, but if I had to make a guess based on their price point and clientele I would say they'd pay attention to what's going on at these place: (1) West Villa (2) Sportful Garden (3) Maxims and maybe (4) Lei Garden even though that's on the higher end.

                      2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                        Hi hong_kong_foodie --

                        I'm asking you for information ... not to be argumentative. Since I no longer go to Koi Palace, I needed to open their dim sum menu online to see the prices.

                        If someone were to go to both Koi Palace and Yank Sing and order the same dishes, what do you think would be the difference in price?

                        Sure, their choices are not identical. But, working with what can be compared, I'd like to know. I see that Koi Palace has about 25 items that range from $12-22 on their dim sum menu. These are delicacies and it's nice they offer them. I suppose their "chef's specials" also would vary in price.

                        Is it reasonable to compare San Francisco prices to Hong Kong Prices? I am not sure what you mean by "top places in Hong Kong" -- most popular for good food or most luxurious. They might be the same, I'm truly unaware.

                        Thanks for any help you can give me.

                        1. re: anyhow

                          No problem. Let me grab a menu from YS later this week and take a look. Just like you haven't been to KP for a while, I haven't been to YS in several years.

                          To be honest - and I really don't mean to sound hateful - I don't get dim sum in the bay area anymore because they are all leagues behind what you can get in Hong Kong. And since I go to Hong Kong several times a year, I just wait til I'm in town to get my fill of dim sum. :)

                          Anyway, I'll take a look at the YS menu later this week and get back to you. Now that you have pointed it out, I am probably wrong in that the dim sum at YS is more expensive than the top places in Hong Kong where standard dim sum like shrimp dumpling and pork dumpling sell for $48 HKD or approx $6.50 USD.

                          By "top places" I'm referring to the ones that all of the food critics and foodies in Hong Kong would rank as the best--independent of price. And as you suggested, most of these places are typically the most luxurious establishments as well.

                          1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                            A friendly reminder, Folks, please do continue to discuss where to find the best dim sum in the Bay Area here, but discussion of food available in Hong Kong is out of scope for this board.


                            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                              Just picked up a copy of the dim sum menu from YS and wow is it expensive. Here is a per item comparison between YS and KP (in that order):

                              shrimp dumplings 蝦餃: $5.45 for 4 | $4.30 for 4
                              siu mai 燒賣: $5.45 for 4 | $2.50 for 4
                              steamed shrimp roll 蝦腸: $7.10 for 3 | $4.30 for 3
                              steamed pork bun 叉燒包: $4.35 for 2 | $2.50 for 3

                              Do I need to go any further? This is awful. At these prices some of the dim sum at YS is definitely more expensive than the top places like Fook Lam Moon in Hong Kong, which again prices $48 HKD or $6.50 USD per dish.

                              The problem again is not that the food is unedible at YS--as I have said before, the food is okay. What is really upsetting is that they are serving marginally better food with a horribly Western selection (fried wonton, phoenix tail shrimp, peking duck, minced chicken in lettuce cup, and the list goes on) at exorbitantly high prices.

                              1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                I'm with you. I'd never go back to Yank Sing unless somebody else was treating me (and they knew what the tab was going to be).

                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                  I quite liked Yank Sing actually - great central location, nice/comfy environment (compared to those grimy-carpeted dim sum houses in SF & Oakland Chinatowns), and dim sum which are of quite high standards (except for the inexplicably stodgy dough of their char-siew pao). And their service level is the best I've come across in any Chinese restaurant in SF.

                                  I quite liked Ton Kiang, too, but it's way too far to travel for lunch from the business district.

                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                    Oh absolutely. The service and atmosphere is much better at YS than even KP or the places in Chinatown. I just wish for the price they charge they made much better dim sum and offered more selection. I would totally pay the price and go there even if they were just like Lei Garden in Hong Kong (which is great but not even close to the best there).