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Good dim sum near downtown SF? (other than Yank Sing)

We have friends visiting from out of town and we want to do dim sum with them this Sunday. We are looking for a place we can walk to from Union Square, or easily accessible by Muni, reasonably clean. No, we don't want to pay for Yank Sing. We will be 4 adults and 4 children. Our favorite place in the East Bay (close to where we live) is Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville. About ten years ago we were regulars at Gold Mountain in Chinatown. We usually travel to the Peninsula for the good stuff, but that's not an option this time. What is good these days *in* San Francisco? Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. You can walk to Chinatown from Union Square -- just a couple of blocks to Grant and then up Grant. For what you're looking for, I suggest Great Eastern.

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    Great Eastern Restaurant
    649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. My favorite place in the city now is Hong Kong Lounge. Also acceptable is South Sea which is just an N ride away from downtown, relatively quiet with short waits.

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

      Hong Kong Lounge
      5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

      12 Replies
      1. re: sfbing

        Hong Kong Lounge is also my new favorite in the city, and I've been at least six times this year. Sometimes it's phenomenal, but it's always at least very good. I think whether or not a particular trip is bumped into the "wow" range depends more on my luck in ordering new dishes that appeal to me, not the staff's consistency.

        When I go with unadventurous eaters and just get the most standard dim sum dishes, it's always very good and right around $10.-15 People are amazed they can pay Chinatown prices for far, far better food.

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        Hong Kong Lounge
        5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

        1. re: Pei

          Beware the wait at HKLounge. We were there Monday 11:30 and had to wait 30 mins for a table for 4. Sundays may be worse. Waiting area is Geary Street.

          1. re: Sarah

            HK Lounge opens at 11am on weekdays and there is a line outside before the doors open. The entire place will be full in 15 mins. It's much improved over my first visit there.

        2. re: sfbing

          Except that bemused doesn't want to travel. South Sea and Hong Kong Lounge are both half an hour on MUNI or 20+ minutes for a couple of taxis. In that much time, you could be in Millbrae on BART.

          I'll give a nod to City View on Commercial near Montgomery. I thought it was very good when I was there on a Friday earlier this year.

          For comparison, Susancinsf and I went to Yank Sing with her husband. The food was occasionally okay but largely disappointing, especially the dumplings and overpriced Peking duck ($5.10 per slice). Servers were pushy with plates we hadn't asked for. And the bill came to $120 for 3 including $2.40 each for 6 oz glasses of soda. They do validate parking though. I've had better experiences here during the week and at Stevenson. This didn't make me want to return though.

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

          Yank Sing
          49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

          Hong Kong Lounge
          5322 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121

          1. re: Windy

            yes, I do understand the urge not to want to travel; we chose it in part because it is across the street from the hotel where hubby and I were staying and I was feeling lazy but wanting a dim sum fix. and they do take reservations, though as it turned out, with the bridge closed many places we went, particularly in the Embarcardero area but also elsewhere, had lighter than normal crowds last weekend. The $120 included tax and tip IIRC but still too high. I did really like the rice noodle rolls filled with pork but I agree that many of the offerings were disappointing. I'd have been happier about the quality if we'd spent $20 p/p instead of $40.

            1. re: susancinsf

              The rice noodle rolls with pork were good, and the tofu wrapped in seaweed.

              1. re: Windy

                This thread is making me hungry for dim sum for lunch tomorrow...except my office is closest to Yank Sing.

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                Yank Sing
                49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                1. re: JasmineG

                  Yank Sing 2 Go is not bad, and it's cheap (under $10 for a combo). As Susan pointed out, if Yank Sing weren't so expensive, the lapses would be no big deal.

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                  Yank Sing
                  49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                  1. re: Windy

                    I just wish Yank Sing to Go offered more dumplings, and at least one dumpling only combo.

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                    Yank Sing
                    49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

            2. re: Windy

              I think City View is underrated on this board. Hugh Lipton is the only big fan I think. It's not Koi Palace, but in the Chinatown area, it's probably my favorite.

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

              1. re: choctastic

                City View is decent and if you take the setting and price of the dim sum into the formula than maybe better than Yank Sing. The dim sum of course is not the best but it is a good for the area.

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

                Yank Sing
                49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                1. re: choctastic

                  We really like City View. We happened upon it 2 years ago; I had the brilliant idea to go into several shops in Chinatown and ask the employees/owners where they would eat dim sum. A few just pointed across the street. I kept asking where THEY would eat, not where I should go. Finally, a lovely lady in the Red Blossom Tea Company told us about City View. She even went so far as to print out a map from google to be sure we would find it.

                  We got there just before noon and got a table. The entire meal was really very good. The food was hot, plentiful, fresh, varied. The service was good, not pushy.

                  We have made a point of return each time we are in SF. We will be heading back there in 10 days. City View is on our list of must do repeat restaurants.

            3. We always hit City View just remember that it's closed on weekends.

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

              1. I haven't been to City View, but I second Ruth's suggestion of Great Eastern. Don't know how the crowds are on Sundays so If one is crowded, perhaps you can try the other. City View - 415 398-2838 in order to check weekend hrs. Yelp says they are open.

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                Great Eastern Restaurant
                649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

                1. Thank you for all of the responses! Yes, we want to walk so we are going to go to Great Eastern. I'll report back on how everyone likes it (especially compared to our other dim sum favorites).

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                  Great Eastern Restaurant
                  649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bemused42

                    New Asia is deserving of renewed chowhound attention - both for taste and for value - the wrap on the siu mai is delicately thin and the pork filling is well seasoned; the jook is so tasty we asked for a second serving when the cart returned; we enjoyed the standards and new unfamiliar dishes, too. I cannot recall when I have been this satisfied with dim sum deliciousness. We enjoyed an amazing array of dishes... overshadowed only by the good company and conversation.

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                    New Asia
                    772 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  2. Our report from Great Eastern:

                    It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and we enjoyed our walk across Chinatown. We arrived at Great Eastern around 10:35 and only had to wait for a few minutes. They presented us with a laminated sheet with color photos and english translations of the dim sum items -- perfect for our out-of-town guests. We ordered way too much -- enough food for 12 or 14 so we had lots of leftovers. The bill was $135 including tip.

                    I had low expectations, but was happily surprised. Overall, the food was excellent. The shrimp in the har gow was fresh and sweet. My sixth grader liked the char siu bao (baked bbq pork buns). The nai wong bao (egg custard buns) were excellent.

                    On the negative side, my sixth grader says the siu lum bao (steamed Shanghai dumplings) lacked juice -- the skins broke as they were served -- a sign of overcooking. They served these with the red vinegar but no ginger threads. The jing dui (sesame balls) were "mushy" -- I thought there was too much dough.

                    We also ordered our usual favorites plus some more for our friends: beef cheong fun, turnip cakes, bbq pork pastry turnovers, siu mai, potstickers. Everybody also liked the sticky rice wraps and the stuffed eggplant.

                    You might not find the quality of the dim sum spots in Millbrae or Daly City, but overall I can definitely recommend Great Eastern if you are in SF Chinatown. Our group of eight -- including four adults, one teenager, two sixth graders, and a three-year old -- left full and satisfied.

                    Thank you again for the suggestion! Next time we might try City View or even New Asia -- I remember both from long long ago when we lived in SF.

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                    Great Eastern Restaurant
                    649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: bemused42

                      Thanks for the review of your visit! I have guests coming this week and "dim sum in Chinatown" is on the list....

                      1. re: bemused42

                        Thanks for reporting back!

                        1. re: bemused42

                          Sorry I did not notice post in time. I work a block away from City View and have eaten at Great Eastern. I would have steered you to Louie's Chinese. They have very fresh hot inexpensive dim sum. Not a huge menu, but all the favorites are included. It is the go to place for most of my friends and co-workers in the financial district. When we have clients we do go to City View because it is much "prettier".

                          1. re: myst

                            Where's louie's? are they open all week or M-F only?

                            1. re: DebitNM

                              Here's the link for Louie's California Chinese,
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/restaurants...

                              It serves dim sum every day. Order from menu, no carts.

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                              Louie's California Chinese
                              646 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94111-2106

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Yes, since they have stairs, they do not do carts. Honestly I prefer that because everything is made fresh and served hot.

                                They provide a checklist of dim sum items and deliver them as they are ready from the kitchen - so we generally have a nice steady stream of items. Some of the items are great (try the stuffed eggplant) while some are not my favorite (the Shiu Mai are huge and not very tender - but my friends love them). You can also order noodles or dishes off the lunch menu if you only want to order partial dim sum meal.

                                1. re: myst

                                  Thanks for the update. I prefer the check list method myself. I've not had dim sum at Louie's since shortly after it first opened, probably a few chefs and at least one manager ago. At that time, some items were carried around the room on small trays so you could see them before selecting.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Louie's was the first place I ever had dim sum and that was in the mid70s. Must have closed and reopened. I was still in my 20s, just moved to SF from Atlanta, discovered this all by myself and was just blown away by its uniqueness. Haven't been back there in decades. Sounds like I should. Thanks all.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      No, this is a completely different restaurant. I assume you're referring to the Louie's that was upstairs on Grant Ave, I believe. There is still a take-out Louie's that has dim sum on Stockton St., don't know if it's related.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        That's exactly what/where I was referring to. It's still there though, isn't it? At least the facade is cause I walk by it whenever we're there. I'll check out the other. I'm waiting for seafood/shellfish allergy test results to come back so avoided dim sum over New Year's. Too painful :)

                                2. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Sounds like a great place. I look forward to taking some out of town guests there. They've never tried dim sum and I think it'd be especially fun the 8-year old.

                                3. re: DebitNM

                                  And FYI Louie's is very casual/traditional. No fusion treats or peking duck served on a dim sum plate.

                                  1. re: myst

                                    Not part of dim sum but Louie's has a out of this world Tea Smoked Duck with skin somewhat like Peking Duck with a wonderful smoked flavor. Off the menu and may have to ordered ahead. Many years ago I had a chance to discuss food with the chef "the true sign of a great chef is to cook something common simply and make it great".