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Dim Sum Go-To Guide 2013

2013 Guide to Bay Area Dim Sum Highlights
(please update this list with your highlights)

Egg Tarts @ Asian Pearl/Millbrae
59. Wasabi Pork Stomach @ Asian Pearl/Millbrae
15. Durian Puffs @Asian Pearl/Millbrae
33. Deep Fried Pumpkin and Egg-yolk Ball @ Great Eastern/SF
14. Pork & Shrimp Bean Curd Skin Roll @ Great Eastern/SF
75. Soya Sauce Duck Chin @ Great Eastern/SF
44. Deep Fried Taro Turnover w/ Minced Meat @ Great Eastern/SF
Pai Gut Fan/Spareribs on Rice @ Dol Ho/SF

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    1. all these amazing dim sum posts and pictures. i will happily eat my way down this list. :)

      1. Dim sum at Koi Palace. Some of my favorites:
        2-pan fried shrimp and chive dumplings
        3-shrimp dumplings with XO sauce
        4-radish cake with XO sauce

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ridge

          You and I would be quite compatible eating dim sum at Koi Palace. :) I was there less than two weeks ago. The xiao long bao have improved since my last visit a couple years ago. Below is the basket of crab roe and pork xlb, five to an order.

          Also the shrimp dumpling with XO sauce. I was pretty amazed that the wrappers on these could be so thin for an open-topped dumpling.

          I didn't take a photo of the panfried daikon cake. What so impressed me about it was the geometric precision in cutting the rectangles. Also, our order was so evenly browned on top, I wondered if a blow torch had been used. But your photo doesn't look the same. And as others have mentioned, the chile sauce that comes with this is crack.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Went to Koi palace yesterday and got the fish cheek Congee. Pricy but it comes with a big plate of fish chow fun. It was off the charts good. Reminded us of something we might eat in Hong Kong. Both the Congee and the chow fun were among the best things I have eaten all year.

            1. re: Ridge

              Sounds delicious!

              It's pretty common for the higher end dim sum places to offer a lunch special that takes a (usually live) fish such as a black bass ("mahn cho") and does a two-course prep of it, one with the majority of the meat as fillets, and the other for the remainder.

              The meat portion is done in a way that fish fillets are typically done - tossed with chow fun, stir-fried with veggies or sometimes wrapped in rice noodle rolls. The rest goes either into a fish head soup or congee. It's a delicious way to enjoy a live fish if steamed whole isn't your thing.

              Off the top of my head, Asian Pearl and Joy Luck Palace do this also around $30/order, and there may be more places not in my rotation that also do the same.

        2. It's not a dim sum place, but Out the Door on Sutter makes better daikon cake than I've ever had at a dim sum place.

          1. Koi Palace

            -Pan fried radish cake with XO sauce
            -Steamed radish cake (with table side house chili sauce added this is supreme)
            -Steamed black bean sauce spareribs (with Chinese olives) over Chan Chuen Fun (Shunde style slippery smooth steamed ho fun noodles)
            - steamed pork spareribs (regular kind)
            - fried taro dumpling
            - roasties entrée (cha siu, roast duck)

            Asian Pearl
            - mixed mushroom cheung fun
            - fried Yuba roll (with vegetarian stuffing) aka fu pei guen
            - steamed radish cake is slightly rough around the edges but very good for the area

            4 Replies
            1. re: K K

              The Koi Palace chili sauce is my favorite. It's so good that we bought a tub of it home ($10 gets you a pint). Do you know what makes it taste so good? I can't pin it down, but it has some of the umami-ish qualities of XO sauce, without the XO sauce ingredients (like dried scallop, shrimp eggs).

              Other things I like from KP are:

              - Roast Pork - Sublimely prepared the past couple times (better than Cooking Papa's and I dare say about comparable to Hong Kong quality). It can't be checked off but randomly appears. Every time I've had it, it's been at the Dublin location. Never have seen it in Daly City.

              - The Fried Donuts wrapped in rice noodle roll (Ja Leung) are consistently excellent. They're really crispy, skins are bouncy, and comes with a sesame dip rather than just soy sauce.

              - Pan Fried Sticky Rice

              - Sa Yung, if it's straight of the fryer is good

              - Portugese Egg Tarts, if they're straight out of the oven

              At Asian Pearl, I rather like their rendition Lotus Leaf Rice, and the har gows are one of the better ones for the area.

              1. re: Jon914

                The Portuguese egg tarts were a new one for me at Koi Palace and they're great. A bit different from the ones I've had in Portugal in that the crust is sort of cookie like and while pretty firm, quite short in texture. Very rich custard, reminded me of crema catalana.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Went to Asian Pearl yesterday to retry their Portuguese Egg Tarts amongst other things (most things were pretty good!). On prior visits, they were lesser executed versions of the Koi Palace tart where the filling was too sweet, and the exterior wasn't buttery/flaky enough, something I've been finding at a bunch of places that do a "portuguese egg tart."

                  This time, it was rather different and refreshingly so. The exterior was flakier and more buttery, but the star was the center, which in contrast to the thick, rich custard of Koi, took on a texture of "dun nai" (steamed egg whites) that is hard to find around here but is readily found in Hong Kong at places like Australia Dairy Company. It's a much softer texture, subtly sweet and quite delectable in its own way.

                  The closest match to this was the time when I posted about Joy Luck doing "white" versions of their egg tarts. It was a one time deal for them, but the custard had a similar taste/texture to that.

              2. mayflower, union city: sometimes a miss, usually good.
                -shrimp cheung fun (don't order in summer, quality not good)
                -beef cheung fun
                -pork buns
                -beef balls
                -har gow

                1. #10. Snow Pea Sprouts w/ Dry Scallops & Shrimp Dumplings at Great Eastern
                  Xiao Long Bao at Yank Sing
                  Not a dim sum place, but a great dim sum item—
                  ..Cheung Fun with Shredded Duck and Mushrooms at Cooking Papa in Foster City
                  Kabocha Fries with Salted Egg batter at Zen Peninsula (on a good day only- they're inconsistent)
                  Does anyone know a place that does a great job with kabocha fries plus shrimp in salted egg batter? I've only had it at the Garden Restaurant in Chinatown where the execution wasn't top-notch but the combination was still great.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: charliemyboy

                    Asian Pearl does that dish at dinner for $17, and their rendition's pretty good.

                    They use good-sized prawns and pretty generous usage of salted eggs in the batter. It's always fried really crispy each time we've ordered at the Fremont location. Haven't been to the Millbrae one in a long time.

                  2. Chui Zhou dumpling @ Lai Hong Lounge

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      Here's the Teochew dumpling at LHL. It's currently the best one I've had around here.

                    2. having decided i was neither prepared to leave the city nor brave the hour-long wait at hong kong lounge, i tried brothers on irving today with my mom. i was pleasantly surprised by the stuffed bell pepper (one of my personal favorite dim sum dishes), as good a version as i can recall having. the other stuff was decent, not outstanding.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: possumspice

                        Not only did I not know that Brothers Seafood offered dim sum, I'd totally forgotten that it existed! Even though I ate there 2+ years ago.

                        On the stuffed bell pepper, is it steamed or the pan-fried version? What makes it superior to you?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          the nice thing about all the dim sum we had was that it wasn't particularly greasy/oily and all came out piping hot (partly because it wasn't super crowded in there). i believe the bell pepper was pan fried. it had a very nice texture, the bell pepper retaining the merest hint of bite and the fish filling recognizably once a real fish (not mushy mystery fish paste). topped with a reasonably restrained amount of non-gluey black bean sauce.

                          1. re: possumspice

                            That sounds really good --- I'm especially keying in on the texture of the bell pepper and non-glue saucing.

                        2. re: possumspice

                          I went back to Brothers for dim sum last weekend and am willing to upgrade them to very good. The cheung fun was deft and light, and another standout dish was the steamed pea sprouts with yuba, which had a lovely clean taste which let the sweetness of the pea sprouts shine and was a welcome break from all the fried foods. A very nice version of salted fish fried rice too...well balanced with nicely separated grains of rice...not too oily. Everything came out piping hot. My new go-to spot for dim sum I'm thinking...

                          1. re: possumspice

                            Thanks for this tip. I really enjoyed the pea shoots with tofu skin (yuba). Given that you're a chile-head, you have to try the stuffed jalapeno peppers.

                            Prices are quite low here. Is it crowded for dim sum on weekends?

                            Chowdown at Brother Seafood

                        3. Thanks for starting this guide, Cynsa. It's making me sift through my photos and finally upload, then archive them.

                          At Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino:

                          Siu mai - totally not the style that I prefer, these are bursting with shrimp, coarsely chopped fatty pork and topped with roe. But I still like these alot and bet others love them even more.

                          Pea shoot and shrimp dumpling - more greenery and less shrimp, works for me

                          Har gao - Reliably decent, good snap to the shrimp

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            That's a pretty accurate assessment of those dishes Joy Luck. We go there weekly, and my only gripe is that while what they've got is rather solid, they don't experiment very much.

                            To add to your list, I rather like their rendition of Pork Spareribs. Some places go overboard on the black beans, make the sauce too goopy, or over-tenderize the ribs, but Joy Luck gets it right each time.

                            Their steamed tripe's also good. Some places start with a ginger-based sauce, but Joy Luck takes it further with dried citrus peel that adds extra depth.

                            I don't eat Chicken Feet, but the other members in my family do, and they say Joy Luck's is their favorite. Visually, it does have a certain appealing look to it - plump, nicely glazed, and again, a balanced sauce.

                          2. Mama Ji's in the Castro has some must haves to me like the shrimp dumplings with pea shoots and the seared pumpkin cake with red bean paste was very tasty

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: PlacesIveEaten

                              +1 on the seared pumpkin cakes. They are molten and crunchy goodness, but a bit oily. Do other places make these?

                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                Sha Bistro has Pumpkin & Red Bean Cake(南瓜餅) Same thing? Never had it at Sha, though. (http://www.showmemenu.com/dish.jsp?id...)

                            2. Chef's Wok in Alameda and Legendary Palace in Oakland are both good staples.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: SUPERROKO

                                How does Chef's Wok compare to East Ocean in Alameda?

                                1. re: vincentlo

                                  East Ocean is better in my opinion. The staff is more friendly and the quality of the food is better. I usually judge a dim sum place by their chicken feet. I feel this is a unique enough dish where the masses will not order it, so a bit more care/preparation should go into it. Ordering the chicken feet is a staple every time I go to East Ocean.

                                  1. re: SUPERROKO

                                    That sums up East Ocean pretty well, I think. The staff there is great, and everything is made with care.