HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure

Cart Dim Sum in SF Chinatown

bbarrick Aug 15, 2013 10:47 PM

We used to love to go to Y Ben House and were so sorry when it closed. The dim sum was cheap and good and we got to eat with the elderly ladies after their T'ai chi. That was always fun because the ladies were gracious and helpful.

Where do those ladies go now? Anyone know? It'll have to be the best dim sum in Chinatown.

:-) bb

  1. Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. BernalKC Aug 16, 2013 10:16 AM


    1. Ruth Lafler Aug 16, 2013 10:28 AM

      You know, this is a good question. In the quest for great dim sum, I think we've been ignoring the cheap-but-serviceable dim sum places, some of which probably still have carts. There are lots of places serving dim sum in Chinatown besides the three that get mentioned (Great Eastern, City View and Lai Hong Lounge).

      1. Tripeler Aug 17, 2013 12:31 AM

        I used to really love Y Ben also. Another place that is much smaller, but seemed to have a similar vibe, is Ocean Pearl on Broadway near Powell. I haven't been in a while, but a quick Internet search says they are still in business.
        (781 Broadway, 397-5799)

        7 Replies
        1. re: Tripeler
          Ruth Lafler Aug 17, 2013 10:55 AM

          Anyone know anything about Peninsula Seafood? They still have cart service.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            shanghaikid Aug 26, 2013 03:26 PM

            2 years ago i ate here. food is slightly above disgusting. (i.e. dry, tasteless, fatty, but still edible, disgestible)
            on the other hand, if this is ur cup of tea, dive in.

            yes, they have cart service. they also service buses of tourists from taiwan, etc.

            1. re: shanghaikid
              Ruth Lafler Aug 26, 2013 04:08 PM

              LOL. So much for the "It's full of Chinese so it must be good" theory (which I think we all knew was bunk anyway).

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                shanghaikid Aug 26, 2013 04:19 PM

                the theory has validity but should be refined.

                -are the chinese elderly? the cheap eats crowd.

                -are the customers primarily cantonese speaking/contractor types? also the cheap eats crowd.

                if young, in suits, or mid aged. then the theory holds.

                btw, elderly chinese like/love bland food, they just add salt.

                1. re: shanghaikid
                  bobabear Aug 26, 2013 05:08 PM

                  Hahaha @ the "cantonese speaking" being cheap eats crowd. I speak Cantonese and have the opposing opinion of "Are these people mainly Mandarin speaking? Then it's no good."

                  Judging by your user name, I think you speak Mandarin or Shanghainese. So I'm just laughing at our own cultural biases :)

                  1. re: bobabear
                    shanghaikid Aug 26, 2013 05:15 PM

                    i'm a cantonese speaker. "shanghai kid" was a nickname given to me by cantonese oldsters who thought i was too fair skinned to be a cantonese like them.

                    oh, i do speak mandarin also but not shanghaiese.

            2. re: Ruth Lafler
              Cynsa Aug 26, 2013 05:36 PM

              I haven't been to Peninsula Seafood, but with Ruth's note, I will add it to the list to try. How is it flying under the radar? I am curious now.
              I do still enjoy Dol Ho, especially now that I blend right in with the seniors at the table.

          2. christinegallary Aug 17, 2013 04:58 PM

            Our favorite cart dim sum in Chinatown is City View, as it is clean, bustling, and the dim sum is hot. Sometimes it takes the carts some time to make it to our table, but we're generally happy with the offerings.

            2 Replies
            1. re: christinegallary
              Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2013 05:34 PM

              City View's very good, but when I go there I feel like I'm in the Financial District, especially when the bill comes.

              1. re: christinegallary
                DebitNM Sep 19, 2013 07:50 PM

                City View is our go to place as well; every trip to San Francisco. We found the food to be hot, fresh, plentiful and reasonably priced. The carts move around and have a good variety. We try to get there about 11:45 on weekdays and get right in. We also don't mind sitting close to kitchen :o)


                Just read some other posts further down; sad to see that things don't seem to have held up well here. Sad, we thought they were quite good but alas, things change.

              2. Melanie Wong Aug 26, 2013 02:06 PM

                Really hoped we'd get more replies to this question.

                Another, Dol Ho has ONE cart. :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  sundeck sue Aug 26, 2013 09:01 PM

                  I like Dol Ho. And there are sometimes elderly ladies there.

                2. h
                  hyperbowler Aug 26, 2013 05:39 PM

                  I was at City View at about 12:30pm this past Saturday, and I wouldn't recommend it. The menu has only the basics, and I didn't find their quality to be higher than the dirt cheap takeout places strewn throughout Chinatown.

                  Ha gow -- ugly looking with a poorly constructed and thick wrapper. Seemed to be squished together open side down rather than properly pleated. Slight ammonia taste to the shrimp. On the plus side, shrimp chunks weren't chopped too small.

                  Chiu chow dumpling -- pretty good

                  Stuffed mushroom -- I figured this would be shrimp paste in a Chinese mushroom, but they use a button mushroom that was somewhat dried out. Viscous sauce was dominated by stale black pepper.

                  Shrimp and chive dumpling -- decent, but shrimp had a slight ammonia taste

                  Turnip cake -- decent, browned but I prefer a crispier bottom

                  Stir fried dishes on others' tables and on cart were glistening in oil and pallid. There were also lots of deflated Xiao Long Bao in aluminum tins.

                  The servers spoke English without a problem, so that's a plus.

                  Heh, regarding the above comments about tourist buses... it struck me as odd that the menu is in English and Japanese, but not Chinese. The server told me she inquired about that a while ago, but no one knew why there wasn't a Chinese translation.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: hyperbowler
                    W42 Aug 26, 2013 08:04 PM

                    This has been my (bad) experience at City View the last couple of times. For years, it used to be my go-to dim sum place in Chinatown if I couldn't spring for Yank Sing, but it has definitely gone downhill.

                    1. re: W42
                      Robert Lauriston Aug 27, 2013 12:05 PM

                      When did you last have a good meal at City View? I went on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year, out of ten items five were very good, three were good, and two were meh.


                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        W42 Aug 27, 2013 01:26 PM

                        I can't say exactly, but it's been at least 2-3 years since I was sufficiently impressed. Since then, from the Chinese folks I know, I've heard several stories about chefs leaving City View—not inherently a problem as a lot of these places have high turnover—but also pans of the dim sum.

                        To answer Ruth at least a few years ago: I used to go both on weekends and weekdays and it was pretty comparable. The crowds were pretty crazy either way and my sense is that it wasn't really a Chinatown crowd on any day (instead, Chinese families from the Richmond/Sunset/suburbs).

                        1. re: W42
                          Ruth Lafler Aug 27, 2013 02:06 PM

                          Good to know. To clarify, I meant "people who were coming in association with Chinatown" -- which would include those Chinese families you described -- as opposed to the FiDi office lunch crowd.

                    2. re: hyperbowler
                      Ruth Lafler Aug 26, 2013 10:58 PM

                      I wasn't impressed by City View the one time I tried it several years ago. I wonder if it's better on the weekend when there's more of a Chinatown crowd and not a FiDi crowd.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        sundeck sue Aug 27, 2013 10:22 AM

                        My guess--weekends, more of a tourist crowd--but hard to imagine, either way, the food would be different/better?

                    3. JonasApproved Sep 9, 2013 12:35 AM

                      Dim sum cart-style restaurants are a dying breed it seems, and it makes sense since I often times see the same carts circling and have to take a chance on whether or not the food will still be hot. (The steamed items are always the safe bet.)

                      I can't believe Y Ben House closed! It was so cheap and though not everything was good ... it was so cheap!

                      Now I only go to Lai Hong Lounge. Before that I would go to Great Eastern. I've tried just about all the other big dim sum restaurants and I didn't like them at all, especially the Rachel Ray one (Ocean Pearl).

                      City View is a Financial District dim sum trap. I only go when colleagues want to go AND when it's expensed because they don't know any better and/or are too lazy to walk further into Chinatown.

                      But for take-out I like Wong Lee, the newest dim sum take-out shop in Chinatown, on Jackson.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JonasApproved
                        Melanie Wong Sep 9, 2013 12:43 AM

                        Threw me for a sec there, then I remembered that Wong Lee took over Yong Kee's space. Haven't been in yet, what are your favorite items there?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          JonasApproved Sep 9, 2013 03:00 PM

                          I actually like their fried stuff haha! Their fried stuffed tofu, their fried dumpling (咸水角), their fried taro puff (炸芋角) ... because it seems to be the only place that consistently serves it hot, even when it's been sitting in the display. (I assume the display is has a heater.) Their siumai is good. Not a fan of their hagao - skin too thick. Their rice rolls (腸粉) is good, though more fillings would be nice. I'm pretty sure this place is related to Good Mongkok because I saw them wearing their tshirts once, plus also the similarity in the names: 旺角 vs 旺利. Coincidence? I think not!

                      2. e
                        eatwell1221 Sep 9, 2013 04:07 AM

                        Good quaity dim sum at Yank Sing in the Rincon Center

                        from their menu:
                        (best thing is not listed - a red cabbage "salad")
                        Sample Menu

                        Shanghai Dumpling - A Yank Sing signature dish of minced Kurobuta Pork, scallion and ginger wrapped and steamed in its own aromatic broth.

                        Snow Pea Shoot Dumplings (Dau Miu Gow) - Translucent bonnets stuffed with a filling of chopped snow pea tendrils, straw mushrooms and a hint of ginger, garlic and sesame oil.

                        Mandarin Dumplings w/Chives - A fresh herb filling of hand-chopped, chives, cilantro, and shrimp stuffed in translucent 'three-cornered-hat' dumplings.

                        Chicken Fun Gwor - Steamed translucent crescent dumplings filled with a tasty wok-cooked hand-chopped chicken, shiitake mushroom, winter bamboo shoots, and cilantro-flavored stuffing.

                        Stuffed Lotus Leaf - Steamed lotus leaf parcel filled with glutinous (sticky) rice, lumps of lop cheung (Chinese sausage ), shiitake mushrooms, chicken cubes, and sun-dried shrimp.

                        Savory Vegetable Dumpling - Frizzled-topped pouch stuffed with a savory mild-curried vegetarian filling of rare Sichuan bamboo mushroom, cabbage, bamboo shoots, carrots, sun-dried bean curd sticks and gingko nuts.

                        Shrimp Dumpling (Ha Gau) - Hand-chopped shrimp embedded with crunchy bits of sweet winter bamboo shoot tips and fashioned into a bonnet.

                        Pork Siu Mye - Hand-chopped shrimp with pork, shiitake mushrooms filling hand-wrapped in fresh pasta skin and hand-formed into a fluted 'basket.'

                        Goldfish Dumpling - Crunchy shrimp, winter bamboo shoot tips, and cilantro stuffed in a hand- wrapped translucent goldfish-shaped dumpling.

                        Spring Roll Crisp - Cantonese spring rolls filled with a wok-cooked mixture of hand-cut julienned chicken, minced black mushrooms, cabbage, winter bamboo shoot tips and scallions.

                        Phoenix Shrimp - classic whole plump shrimp, with a shrimp mousse croquette encasing, lightly battered and deep-fried until golden brown; served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

                        Scallion Prawn - a crispy plump prawn skewered on a scallion stalk with sweet potato and tied with a strip of lean bacon.

                        Peking Duck - A Yank Sing Signature dish, house-roasted Peking Duck served as a deem sum appetizer, Crispy paper thin honey-coated skin and tender slices of succulent meat stuffed in a steamed seashell bun, accompanied with finely slivered scallions and smears of tangy hoisin sauce.

                        Steamed Pork Buns - Warm fluffy bread buns stuffed with nuggets of honey-glazed BBQ pork.

                        Potsticker (Wor Tee) - Northern style dumplings filled with a succulent finely minced pork, cabbage, scallions, ginger, and toasted sesame oil stuffing, steamed in a wok, then shallow- pan-fried, and served with vinegar, soy sauce and Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce.

                        Stuffed Crab Claws - Light and fluffy crab and shrimp mousse croquette encasing a whole snow crab claw, deep-fried until golden brown.

                        Yank Sing Fried Won Ton - Yank Sing signature crispy won ton stuffed with a mild curry shrimp and cream cheese filling accompanied with sweet and tangy dipping sauce.

                        Egg Custard Tart - Warm oven-baked velvety smooth and sweet egg custard in flaky pastry tart shell.

                        Mango Pudding - Fragrant and light creamy gelatin of golden ripe mango, served chilled.

                        Sesame Ball - Light sticky rice-flour balls stuffed with sweet yellow bean puree, rolled in sesame seeds deep-fried until golden brown and crusty.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: eatwell1221
                          toitoi Sep 9, 2013 06:23 AM

                          Yang Sing good food.

                          Yang Sing not good replacement for Y Ben ladies.

                          Yang Sing for rich people.

                          1. re: eatwell1221
                            stefansky90 Sep 9, 2013 09:58 AM


                            A great review for Yang Sing.

                            I live in Los Angeles and once or twice a year my wife and I drive up to San Francisco just to eat at Yang Sing. Well worth the drive as well as the cost.

                            1. re: eatwell1221
                              Robert Lauriston Sep 9, 2013 10:11 AM

                              That's just cut and paste from their web site. You're not recommending all those, are you? Personally I think the fried won ton, stuffed crab claws, and phoenix shrimp are disgusting. I think the taro dumplings are the only good fried item.

                              They have carts but it's not in Chinatown.

                              1. re: eatwell1221
                                mugsysf Sep 9, 2013 11:17 AM

                                Yank Sing is the best but when I can't afford the $50 per person tab, I usually go to their To Go window and get a box of basics for about $11. It has a shrimp dumpling, pork dumpling, steamed pork bun, an egg custard, an egg roll... Yes, it's boring, but when you need a dim sum fix, it's cheap, fast, fresh, and hot. I eat it outside on a bench.

                                1. re: mugsysf
                                  Robert Lauriston Sep 9, 2013 11:48 AM

                                  Yank Sing To Go is like a different restaurant. The food is terrible.

                                  I don't spend anywhere near $50 a person at Yank Sing. More like half that.


                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    mugsysf Sep 9, 2013 01:16 PM

                                    When was the last time you ate at the To Go location? I just got something to go about two months ago and it was delicious. Yes, the menu is different/extremely limited, but it's the same kitchen. I just called and they confirmed that.

                                    I've been going to Yank Sing for every birthday, mother's day, anniversary since they opened, and it usually comes out to $50 pp including the tip. We eat a lot and we're good tippers.

                                    The old Yank Sing on Battery was the best! I grew up eating there.

                                    1. re: mugsysf
                                      Robert Lauriston Sep 9, 2013 01:26 PM

                                      I probably haven't gone to Yank Sing To Go since I worked around the corner ten years ago. They don't serve many of the things I order.

                                      The first place I had dim sum was the original Yank Sing on Broadway.

                                      1. re: mugsysf
                                        nocharge Sep 9, 2013 02:15 PM

                                        My problem with Yank Sing To Go is the limited offerings, few of which appeal to me. But you can order a beef or seafood chow mein that is nice, but that I've never seen on any menu. (You can order it inside the restaurant as well, steamed style or Hong Kong style.)

                                        1. re: nocharge
                                          Ruth Lafler Sep 9, 2013 03:31 PM

                                          I only work a couple of blocks from there, but I agree it's terrible. I checked it out a couple of times when my office first moved nearby, and then again about a year ago. Expensive for what it is, and not worth eating at any price.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                            bobabear Sep 11, 2013 04:25 PM

                                            Yank Sing 2 Go isn't terrible for a lunch under $10. I went the other day (Stevenson location) for a box that had:
                                            - half full of noodles
                                            - 1 steamed pork bun
                                            - 1 egg roll
                                            - 1 potsticker

                                            Granted everything was greasy and salty, but for $7.76 given the neighborhood, I would probably do it again if I was in a huge rush...

                                            1. re: bobabear
                                              toitoi Sep 11, 2013 04:56 PM

                                              Sorry, but that lunch really sounds awful. Cheap is cheap.

                                              1. re: toitoi
                                                c oliver Sep 11, 2013 05:06 PM

                                                Since I don't really care for any of those three items, I'm not one to judge. But Bob and I usually have so much dim sum we think we're going to keel over for about $12. Not at Yank Sing.

                                                1. re: toitoi
                                                  Robert Lauriston Sep 11, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                  I used to work with people who liked Yank Sing's starchy and greasy dishes, but except maybe for the noodles those aren't to my taste.

                                                  If you're going to get those items you'd probably do no worse for half the price at the really cheap takeout places in Chinatown.

                                  2. c
                                    cyssf Sep 9, 2013 06:32 AM

                                    Well, if you are willing to go outside of Chinatown I like House of Banquet on Clement. Massive, filled with mostly Chinese clientele. Many unusual dishes such as tripe soups and black vinegar pig's feet in addition to the standard siu mai, har gow etc. Large portions, cheap prices, tables filled with elderly men reading their Chinese papers in the morning. Go early, it gets packed around 11 or 11:30 on weekends.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cyssf
                                      c oliver Sep 9, 2013 04:23 PM

                                      That's been our go-to place for the last couple of years. The food is always hot, the service is friendly, they have different things. When we got the shrimp-paste stuffed eggplant, they took it back to the kitchen and reheated so it was nice and hot. That's not been my experience with other places with that dish.

                                      We used to eat at Dol Ho but it just can't compare to HoB. We also ate at Happy Chinese on Powell between Broadway and Pacific by the fire station. Liked it far better than Dol Ho, both the food and the staff.

                                    2. jupiter Sep 10, 2013 12:03 PM

                                      So, i know it is not in chinatown, but my work friends and i (many of them who are from various parts of china) always go to Canton for lunch. They don't think it is the greatest, but they think it is better than many other dim sum places in the city.
                                      It is cart service. it is fairly cheap (we can all usually get out of there stuffed for about 10-15 dollars each with the tip and tax included.)
                                      I prefer it to city view, even though the food might be a little greasier with the fried items, but the dining room is big and the food is fresh and while they don't have a TON of variety they do the standards well, and around holidays they pull out the stops and go fancy with a number of items not on the regular menu.

                                      Canton Dim Sum & Seafood Restaurant
                                      655 Folsom St San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      i feel reluctant to mention it as probably a number of folks on this board can't stand it, but i have never had a bad meal there and it remeinds me of the cart service of my youth, so i like it. I can't compare it to Y Ben House, as i never went, but it reminds me a little of the old Gold Mountain dim sum place on Broadway

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: jupiter
                                        cyssf Sep 10, 2013 01:05 PM

                                        I' m Chinese American. Raised on the east coast but mother's family third generation SF Chinatown. We use to eat at Canton frequently for banquets and I thought the food was good. Have't had dim sum there in a long time.

                                        1. re: jupiter
                                          vincentlo Sep 10, 2013 11:05 PM

                                          I think the quality of dim sum at Canton is at least a whole level higher than that at Gold Mountain in Chinatown.

                                          1. re: vincentlo
                                            jupiter Sep 11, 2013 11:25 AM

                                            honestly, i can't remember the quality of the food at Gold Mountain, so it must have been fairly "meh". i do, however, remember the atmosphere a lot! They feel sort of similiar to me. Again, i really like the food at Canton, since me and my colleagues eat there at least twice a month for lunch dimsum feasts.

                                            1. re: jupiter
                                              toitoi Sep 11, 2013 12:28 PM

                                              I've visited San Francisco between Christmas and New Year's for 8 years. We stay at the Royal Pacific across the street from Gold Mountain, and have eaten our Christmas breakfast there for 4 of those years. We get there when the doors open, and everything is hot and fresh.

                                              I've never been to Canton, but will give a try.

                                              Y Ben had always been our breakfast stop at least twice during our visits. Sorry to see it go.

                                              Yang Sing was a one-time lunch, maybe 10 years ago. When the check came and for the little we had eaten I almost fell off my chair.

                                              Although limited in menu items and slow service, but everything cooked to order, we've eaten many late lunches at Hang Ah. It's also quite reasonable, not too may Chinese whenever I've been there. My visit to Hang Ah was in 1960

                                              1. re: toitoi
                                                Robert Lauriston Sep 11, 2013 12:30 PM

                                                Hang Ah didn't have a kitchen when I went there years ago. I don't know if that has changed.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  toitoi Sep 11, 2013 12:49 PM

                                                  Can't vouch for 1960, but all the other times, including the 70s, I've seen a small kitchen in an half-open space behind a counter, and I've seen the chef doing his thing.

                                                  1. re: toitoi
                                                    Robert Lauriston Sep 11, 2013 12:54 PM

                                                    Making dim sum from scratch or just heating up premade?

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                      toitoi Sep 11, 2013 01:09 PM

                                                      To me, what we had tasted just made for us. I believe that's one of the reason for the slow service. Try their Hot & Sour Soup - not bad, of course, that's premade. There's a shrimp item wrapped in slivered wonton skins that's deep fried, definitely not heated up.

                                                      I live in Los Angeles, and you're up in Oakland or San Francisco, why not stop in, have a look see, and taste.

                                                      Have you opened a new restaurant?

                                                      1. re: toitoi
                                                        c oliver Sep 11, 2013 01:32 PM

                                                        You LA folks have such amazing dim sum that when one of you recommends a place I listen up :) Thanks.

                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                          toitoi Sep 11, 2013 01:40 PM

                                                          The San Gabriel Valley has oodles of great places.

                                                          1. re: toitoi
                                                            c oliver Sep 11, 2013 01:59 PM

                                                            I've only --- so far! ---- eaten at Elite and it hands down beat all the other dim sum I've ever had. Anywhere. Gotta get back down there.

                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                              toitoi Sep 11, 2013 02:21 PM

                                                              Sea Harbour in Rosemead-terrific. Very good is 261 Mission in San Gabriel, Lunasia in Alhambra.

                                                              Cart service at Ocean Star (hit and miss) North Atlantic, Monterey Park. New Capital Seafood, West Valley Blvd - 2nd floor. 888 Seafood on Valley Blvd in Rosemead (think they went cart-less).

                                                              Here's a list of many from Yelp


                                                              If you like/adore/love Sichuan, Chengdu Taste on Valley Blvd. is SUPERB !!! Not dim sum but oh, my, what wonton's !!

                                                              1. re: toitoi
                                                                c oliver Sep 11, 2013 02:34 PM

                                                                Thanks a ton. We should now probably return this thread to its regular programming :)

                                        Show Hidden Posts