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Sep 6, 2012 10:40 AM

Dim sum in San Francisco with good vegetarian options? [Split from "Best Dim Sum in SF"]

[NOTE: This thread was split from "Best Dim Sum in SF" which you can find here: -- The Chowhound Team]

Can anyone recommend a place where vegetarians can eat something besides the sweet buns? Seems that Yank Sing would work, but I'd prefer a less Americanized/sanitized hole-in-the-wall type place where a non-veg can get some creative stuff. Cart service would be preferable but not essential. Thanks!

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  1. At an unsanitary hardcore funky place you're never going to know what's really vegetarian, even if you speak Chinese.

    I don't find Yank Sing Americanized, only upscale. The style is typical upscale Chinese.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Agreed, Robert.

      Just bumping this and wondering if anyone has any recent experience/recommendations for vegetarian dim sum in San Francisco.

      1. re: charcolatte

        Yank Sing does list 3 vegetarian dumplings on their online menu (i like their snow pea leaf dumpling) and their scallion pancake (more like a flaky pastry) probably qualifies as well. Would be curious whether anybody can recommend a place that has flaky baked turnip pie (lo bo sze bing, looks like a curled-up "armadillo", not to be confused with pan fried/steamed turnip cake which is soft)

        1. re: barleywino

          I had lunch with a vegetarian at Yank Sing a couple of years ago and there were so many veg items it was hard to choose.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            It's also worth noting that Yank Sing has dishes not listed on their regular menus. You just have to know how to order them. Given that I'm not a vegetarian, I haven't explored the vegetarian options too much, but you can order beef or seafood chow mein Hong-Kong style or not. Don't think that is listed on their dining-room menus.

            1. re: nocharge

              There are a bunch of noodle dishes on the printed menus (which you get only if you ask for them). They're at the bottom of this page:


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                That's exactly what I was referring to. Except I don't think your link shows all the options. And the standard menus that they give out would be lacking in stuff that is not dim-sum. A beef chow mein is a fairly substantial dish compared to most of the dim-sum stuff.

        2. re: charcolatte

          I frequent Hong Kong Lounge II and a vegetarian friend has joined on occasion. Plenty for her to eat, even better than she can choose it on the menu so she can see her options (they don't do carts).

          Some of the favorite dishes have been pan fried mushroom buns and their vegetarian steamed dumpling (translucent green wrapper helps note it as the veggie dumpling vs. the same shape meat dumpling).

          1. re: charcolatte

            If you're interested in take-out type dim sum, my favorite version of suen jook guen is at Wing Lee on Clement St. and also available at its sister location, Happy Bakery on Irving St. Wing Lee also makes a vegetable bao that's a bit bland but decent. There are a few tables in the back if you care to eat your purchase from the counter there. More info here,

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Anyplace that does a large bao with mostly green vegetables/spinach inside? Like New Green Bo in NYC used to make

        3. I've not eaten there, but this place in Oakland has lots of vegetarian dim sum: http://www.naturevegetarianrestaurant...

          I dunno. I'd rather pay the premium prices for Yank Sing than (1) worry whether my dish has animal products in it despite it being listed as not, and (2) eating a dumbed down mock-meat dish--- with all the seasonal produce around, I'd prefer something designed from the ground up to make vegetables taste good (e.g., not for dim sum, but see Mission Chinese Food).

          You could also ditch the dim sum idea, and focus on vegetarian items at a non-Cantonese places. No carts, but good food on small plates.

          At Bund Shanghai, for example, small plate items I believe to be vegetarian include: Kau fu (gluten), vegetarian goose (maybe actually vegetarian), chinese doughnut wrapped in rice, Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings, Scallion Pancake, and various desserts. Little Shanghai in San Mateo has a wider selection I can comment on if you're interested.

          House of Pancakes has excellent pancakes that don't contain meat (egg one is fantastic) as well as vegetarian appetizers and dumplings.

          1. I don't know if YS serves this, but a common vegetarian option is a called "so gao" which literally translates to vegetarian dumpling but is understood to be filled with a blend of julienned mushrooms, bamboo shoots and a little more.

            It's almost identical to the filling used in Cooking Papa's Rice Noodle Roll with Assorted Mushrooms (RR15).