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Dim Sum and XLB recommendations

Will be in SF for two weeks at beginning September. Looking for some authentic dim sum and in particular xiao long bao (soupy dumplings).
Yank Sing sounds a bit too touristy and overpriced for my taste. I prefer small places that locals go to. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

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

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  1. Best XLB in my book are at Shanghai Dumpling King. I heard it changed owners but a friend who I trust very much went and said it was as good as ever. Note, it's not really a dim sum place, it's out in the Avenues (away from downtown) and it's a bit of a hole-in-the-wall. If you're going to visit Golden Gate Park or go over the GG Bridge, it's a good time to go...in that general direction.

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    Shanghai Dumpling King
    3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      I'll second the XLB at Shanghai Dumpling King, and also suggest the nearby Shanghai House in case SDK is closed.

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      Shanghai House
      3641 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

      Shanghai Dumpling King
      3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

    2. Yank Sing isn't touristy; it's full of locals. It is expensive. In Chinatown I like City View.

      Way out near the ocean (and the zoo and Golden Gate Park), S&T is very good.

      Where are you staying? A lot of the best dim sum (Asian Pearl, Hong Kong Flower Lounge) is in Millbrae near San Francisco airport but this only makes sense if you have a car and are headed that way. Most dim sum in this area is in large Hong Kong style restaurants rather than holes in the wall.

      As ML8000 notes, the best xiao long bao are served at Shanghainese restaurants, rather than at dim sum places. Shanghai Dumpling is a good rec (and they have lots of other delicious food). I thought the xiao long bao at Yank Sing were not good.

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      Hong Kong Flower Lounge
      51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

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

      Peninsula Asian Pearl
      1671 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

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

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

      14 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Yank Sing is full of local cultural tourists, i.e. Caucasians, not Cantonese families. For a truly immersive experience, carts and all, I'd suggest Gold Mountain or Y. Ben House in Chinatown.

        Agree with all on Shanghai Dumpling King for XLB.

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        Gold Mountain Restaurant
        644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

        Shanghai Dumpling King
        3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

        1. re: soupçon

          Yank Sing gets a lot of Chinese families on the weekends. We were surrounded by them on all sides last time we went.

          1. re: soupçon

            Why does the race of who eats a restaurant matter. I can tell you that Chinese folks can have bad taste and eat at crappy restaurants ..Look at them at the horrible dim sum at Old Seafood in Oakland. so there are people with bad taste in every ethinic group.
            I really don't understand why people are allowed to get off the hook with statements about so called authenticity meaning that people of a certain group eat at a place.

            1. re: jason carey

              You are right. I have always found it comical when this is used as a gauge of a Chinese restaurant's quality or authenticity, somehow assuming every Chinese person present further assures the authenticity of a place. The truth is some of us just don't know any better. Some of us are just trying to find a cheap place to fill our belly; and many of us are just as susceptible to hype. I suspect many non-Chinese chowhounds on this board probably have a wider appreciation of Chinese regional cooking than your average Chinese person on the street. I have been to plenty of lousy Chinese restaurants (whether voluntarily or dragged along) full of Chinese. I apologize if my presence at some of those places might have misled those that rely on this head-counting method.

              1. re: tvr172

                I don't thing the counting thing is supposed to work that way. Lot's of Chinese patrons don't indicate a Chinese place is good anymore than lots of Americans at Pizza Hut mean it is any good. However a complete lack of Chinese patrons could indicate a lack of authenticity, if that is what someone is looking for. Of course there are exceptions to every rule...

                1. re: Civil Bear

                  Not that many exceptions. Restaurants with no Chinese (or Mexican or Italian) patrons are probably not interested in authenticity. See Mission Street Food for an example of the pitfalls of this approach.

                2. re: tvr172

                  Being Chinese, a Chinese restaurant without Chinese diners is something to be definitely avoided (e.g., House of Nanking). Yank Sing and Chinatown Brasserie (NY) are the only exceptions I have found, and with only these two exceptions, the odds are heavily against you if you disregard the rule even if there are a few others. However, a Chinese restaurant full of Chinese diners does not necessarily represent good food. I discovered this many years ago in NY Chinatown where not knowing any of the restaurants we chose this place because it was packed with Chinese patrons. Later we realized it was packed because the restaurant served huge portions for dirt cheap prices.

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

                  House of Nanking
                  919 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    Y Ben House was all Chinese except for us for precisely that reason, good portions and crazy low prices. The food was fine but average. The well-heeled Chinese families that were sitting around us the last time I ate at Yank Sing probably wouldn't have set foot in there.

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                    Y Ben House Restaurant
                    835 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

            2. re: Windy

              Staying around Sanchez and Market.

              1. re: Skeeta

                So without a car, head to Chinatown for dim sum or stop by Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae on your way to or from the airport.

                With a car (or a long bus trip out on the 38 Geary bus) you could go to Hong Kong Lounge or to Shanghai Dumpling on Balboa, or take the N Judah streetcar out to S&T, or visit the other recommended Millbrae options (Asian Pearl, Zen Peninsula).

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                Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                Shanghai Dumpling Shop
                455 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030

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

                1. re: Windy

                  I think they finally ripped the Hong Kong Flower Lounge signage off the premises, though the double fish logo is still there. It's just Mayflower Restaurant now.

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                  Hong Kong Flower Lounge
                  51 Millbrae Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    in Millbrae? I haven't been in a few months, but the website doesn't seem to have changed.
                    http://www.crusa.biz/mayflower/HKFL/

                    (Wasn't Mayflower out on Geary a spinoff by former employees of the original HKFL, where Hong Kong Lounge now is?

                    )

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

                    1. re: Windy

                      Yes, Millbrae. The business cards only say Mayflower now.

              2. re: Windy

                We have found City Views to be consistently very good and priced right.

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

              3. Most of the best Dim Sum Houses in the city are Cantonese and do not make very good XLB.
                I would suggest Mayflower Seafood Restaurant on Geary Blvd. Not touristy at all and great.
                There are some very long threads with tons of suggestions already on this board if you use the search.

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                Mayflower Seafood
                6255 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

                2 Replies
                1. re: chefj

                  On my last trip to the area, we flew into SFO then went straight to Zen Peninsula in Millbrae - big place, mostly Asian clientele, not much English spoken, order from the carts, very good. At the end of the trip, we drove down through Sonoma and stopped at Hong Kong Lounge on Geary Street - also big, mostly Asian clientele. Here, you order the dim sum off a printed menu, and they bring each dish to you when it is ready. The dim sum was great.

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                  Zen Peninsula
                  1180 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

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

                  1. re: stevenmargolis

                    Zen Peninsula is a very solid performer in Millbrae, linking a visit from around April of this year

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/777922

                    Can't go wrong with Asian Pearl Peninsula as well.

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                    Zen Peninsula
                    1180 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

                2. Not in SF, but I'd recommend Peninsula Asian Pearl (Millbrae). Koi Palace (Daly City) is pretty good, too. I like Yang Sing, but it will be expensive and upscale.

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

                  Peninsula Asian Pearl
                  1671 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

                  1. Most "Dim Sum" is Cantonese, but the tradition of small quantities of little dumplings to eat with tea while catching up with friends or family on a weekend morning has spread all over China. Shanghai Dumpling King has its own "northern Dim Sum" menu on weekends, and indeed has great XLB.

                    In fact, I was there last night. The XLB wrappers late at night seem tougher than I have noticed during the day, but the spicing and flavor of the soup + meatball inside was the best I remember having anywhere. Maybe there are better ones in the bay area right now, but I was super happy with these last night. We also really enjoyed both the spicy dumplings, number 2 and number 8 on the menu, but neither was quite what our friend remembered and was hoping to order. It's always tough in Chinese restaurants to know which item on the menu is what you are looking for!

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                    Shanghai Dumpling King
                    3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SteveG

                      Stopped in the other weekend for a late lunch around 3, and had an order of the crab and pork XLB from the specials paper on the wall, helpfully translated into English.

                      They were fantastic. Probably my best XLB experience yet, wrappers were thin, delicate, but firm and only 1 or 2 popped. Filling was extremely flavorful, with plenty of soup. Only complaint was that the ginger for the vinegar dipping sauce was not cut in nice long thin threads but in short hunks.

                    2. grew up and live in the richmond district, so rarely leave the neighborhood for chinese food. yesterday we did a family day (wife and 5 yr old daughter, who loves dim sum) in chinatown and i found this thread to get some recs nearby. we decided to try city view. fantastic experience. beyond the dumplings, we loved that they offered small plates from their ala carte menu (peking duck, lettuce wraps, etc). mrs doesn't like duck so it was nice to get a small portion for myself. everything was fresh. any fried item we ordered was not greasy. flavors were salient.

                      thank you guys.

                      1. My fave would have to be Koi Palace, Daly City - although it can be a bit hectic! Otherwise, South Sea Seafood Village in the inner Sunset is great too. Happy Dim Summing

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

                        South Sea Seafood Village
                        195 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gardeneats

                          I second Koi Palace. Simply the best dim sum around the SF area. Solid quality and variety. You need to travel to Vancouver or LA to top them.

                          City View in SF is solid, as is The Kitchen in Millbrae. Asian Pearl Millbrae is a slight step down and Hong Kong Flower Lounge - Mayflower even lower.

                          For XLB try Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae. I prefer it to Shanghai Dumpling King in SF.
                          I've learned from repeated mistakes to never order XLB or other Shanghai dishes at a Cantonese restaurant.

                          Also an under the radar Shanghai restaurant with very good XLB and stellar pan fried pork buns is Sunny Shanghai in San Bruno.
                          http://www.foodnut.com/290/sunny-shan...

                        2. if you're in the South Bay, Bamboo Garden's XLB is fairly good.
                          BambooGardenMV.com

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                          Bamboo Garden
                          108 N Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043