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Dim Sum in San Francisco


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I'll be in San Francisco this upcoming weekend. Can anyone recommend any good dim sum places in downtown San Francisco? Last time I was in town a few years back I tried Lichee Garden & Golden Dragon restaurant. I liked lichee garden but Golden Dragon was so-so. Any more suggestions?

Pat

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When visiting last year I did Yank Sing and really liked it, although it is a tad expensive. Others have complained that it is not authentic enough, but I've yet to see anyone say it is not high quality.

Bill Russell

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Yank Sing and Harbor Village are widely thought to be the best dim sum places downtown. My experience is not terribly extensive, but I think both are very good. Harbor Village probably has a slightly more unusual (and probably more authentic) selection, or at least it did several years ago, which is the last time I ate there.

I've never had a bad lunch at Yank Sing. Even their take-out food is good.

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Try City View. It's where my relatives go when we're forced to have dim sum in downtown SF. Cheaper than Harbour Village, and much cheaper and much more authentic than Yank Sing.

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Unfortunately, both have taken a downward slide in the past few years, IMO.

Harbor Village is still ok, but I did not have a good experience the last time I went. I noticed the dim sum was not being served at a nice, hot temperature (and we went relatively early). Also, some of my usual staples were not up to their previous par at HV.

Yank Sing has raised its prices since it made its main location the Rincon Center one. My three friends (not knowing anything about dim sum) somehow managed to spend $150 on a dim sum meal there! :blink: still not sure exactly what they ordered. However, from a quality standpoint, the food there is still outstanding and I like the fact that they attempt to provide a larger selection by being "less" authentic.

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My favorite in the three months I lived in the S.F. area in 2001 was Great Oriental, which we returned to weekend after weekend to the detriment of my waistline, and which my husband last month returned to during a business trip and reported was as good as ever. The restaurant is smaller in size than the huge banquet-room dim-sum places, but the dim sum is superb and authentic, carried on trays by waitresses who walk by the tables. Served this way, the hot dishes hardly have time to get cold. Especially good are the deep-fried taro dumplings (my personal litmus test for dim sum). Lots of local Chinese eat here.

We also liked New Asia, one of those large banquet-room dim-sum places. Wider selection of dim sum dishes than Great Oriental, all excellent.

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I have always liked Hang-Ah in chinatown. No ambeince, in a basement, but really fresh good food.

D

My Bay area freinds swear by a place in Oakland but I do not remeber the name. Maybe someone else will know the place. It is huge and crowded. Golden something maybe?

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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My three friends (not knowing anything about dim sum) somehow managed to spend $150 on a dim sum meal there! :blink: still not sure exactly what they ordered.

My wife and I managed about $95. We ate a lot, but it's not like we were ready to explode or anything either.

Bill Russell

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What do you mean by "downtown San Francisco"? If you mean SF proper as opposed to the greater Bay Area, I would certainly suggest Ton Kiang on outer Geary. It is a 10 minute cab or 15 minute bus ride from Union Square, and is arguably one of the best dim sum venues in the US. I personally like the funky Chinatown dim sum cavern Y Ben House on Pacific off Stockton; scuzzy tile floor, harried cart-servers, packed with local ethnics, authentic and cheap.

(Edited to correct the name: Y Ben House. Thanks, Gary, for getting it right.)

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)

eGullet member #80.

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It's been a few years, but when we were in S.F., we chose Ton Kiang and were most impressed with the quality. At the time, it seemed far better than what we could get in NY. Dim sum has gotten better here, but it's been too long for me to try and compare Ton Kiang with our best these days. I can't remember how we did our research. It was well before eGullet. Strange neighborhood though. I seem to remember seeing a lot of Russian bakeries. There were a lot of Asians at the restaurant though.

Robert Buxbaum

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What do you mean by "downtown San Francisco"? If you mean SF proper as opposed to the greater Bay Area, I would certainly suggest Ton Kiang on outer Geary. It is a 10 minute cab or 15 minute bus ride from Union Square, and is arguably one of the best dim sum venues in the US. I personally like the funky Chinatown dim sum cavern T Ben House on Pacific off Stockton; scuzzy tile floor, harried cart-servers, packed with local ethnics, authentic and cheap.

I'm a big Y. Ben House fan, too. I used to automatically recommend it, but got tired of being dumped on by people who can't seem to distinguish between food and decor. (My mother taught me not to eat the paint!)

Have you tried the seafood chow fun? Maybe the best single "anchor" dish I have ever had at a dim sum palace.

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My Bay area freinds swear by a place in Oakland but I do not remeber the name. Maybe someone else will know the place. It is huge and crowded.

Jade Villa is huge and crowded, and is in Oakland. I had dim sum there some years ago, and it was quite tasty. I hear lots of good things about Ton Kiang in the Richmond. All those Russian bakeries, among other things, make for an interesting neighborhood. Parking out there is atrocious, though. Beware.

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My Bay area freinds swear by a place in Oakland but I do not remeber the name. Maybe someone else will know the place. It is huge and crowded. Golden something maybe?

There's a Silver Dragon, which is often confused with Golden Dragon. I think they do serve dim sum, although I don't know anyone who has eaten there.

If it's in Oakland, odds are it was Jade Villa. Just about everyone goes there as their first dim sum in Oakland... possibly because it's on Broadway and very visible. I did not think it was that good.

For mid-range Oakland I would vote Legendary Palace, or perhaps Tin's Tea House, although that has gotten a few bad mentions recently. For high-end, Peony has it cornered. On the low-end side there are a couple of places involved in "dim sum price wars", with prices around $1.50 per plate. They aren't the best, but the price means you can order a lot of dishes without feeling guilty. Joy Luck is one, I forget the name of the other.

All of these are within a four block radius, maybe a ten minute walk from the 12th St BART station.

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What I like about Harbour Village is that you can get validation for 4 hours of parking on weekends. So you can hit the Ferry Market and have some dim sum all at once. It's not my favorite and on the expensive side, but hey, for 4 hours free parking on a Sat morning, I'll take it occasionally.

I like Yank Sing (Rincon location) if I'm taking relatively wealthy non-Asians, because they seem to really like it. But at about $4-5 an order, it's no wonder that people spending about $50 a person, including tea, tax and tip.

On Oakland: I really miss Oakland's Lantern!

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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I wished I would of seen some more of these reviews after I posted it cause I would have liked to have tried Ton Kiang & Y Ben. I went instead to a Grand Palace , I think that was the name. It was on Grant Ave. I thought it was OK , nothing special. The service there seems to more friendlier than some of the other chinatown restaurants. Although, I have to say the service in San Francisco Chinatown seems to more tourist friendly than New York's. I was also surprised that I didn't run into more chinese style bakeries in chinatown. Here in New york, everywhere you look there is pastry shops popping up. I guess I'll have more dim sum shops to try out next time.

Any good wonton noodle shops to recommend in San Francisco for my next trip? I tried a noodle shop on Kearny bet. commerical & clay. I forgot the name but the wontons and beef tendons were pretty good.

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  Any good wonton noodle shops to recommend in San Francisco for my next trip?  I tried a noodle shop on Kearny bet. commerical & clay.  I forgot the name but the wontons and beef tendons were pretty good.

That would have been Hon's Wonton House. A lot of the smaller old-style Cantonese restaurants have decent won ton and won ton noodle soups, but Hon's is about the only place that specializes in it.

There are a fair number (probably a couple of dozen) bakeries in Chinatown, mostly on Stockton St. and widely scattered among the side streets and alleys.

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yes Yank Sing is the one everyone knows and pretty good, however I prefer ones a little more authentic, and actually IN CHINATOWN...yank sing is in the heart of the financial area...however their custard buns for dessert, dumplings and bao are worth the trip alone ..there is also a little take out place right next door which i would recommend....you can try their signature favorites as a little snack and then try Asian Gardens..I think on Jackson St...for a more authentic meal...happy eating--however note that it gets very crowded, especially on sundays when many chinese families are out having dim sum...I will try and look up the exact address for you....

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yank sing is in the heart of the financial area...

Yank Sing actually relocated their Battery Street restaurant to Rincon Center three years ago. (The Stevenson Street location remains unchanged.) But enough people must still associate the name with the old address, because every day at lunchtime they position a sign and a hostess at a little podium under an umbrella on the sidewalk on the intersection of Battery and Merchant (the old location) to redirect people to the new restaurant! After three years!

Cheers,

Squeat

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Yank Sing actually relocated their Battery Street restaurant to Rincon Center three years ago. (The Stevenson Street location remains unchanged.) But enough people must still associate the name with the old address, because every day at lunchtime they position a sign and a hostess at a little podium under an umbrella on the sidewalk on the intersection of Battery and Merchant (the old location) to redirect people to the new restaurant! After three years!

Yes, I noticed that the last time I walked around in that area. I walked up to the people, thinking they were planning to reopen Yank Sing at the old location, now that they had finished the new construction, but they were just handing out maps and directions to the other locations.

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.you can try their signature favorites as a little snack and then try Asian Gardens..I think on Jackson St...for a more authentic meal..

If you are thinking of New Asia, which used to be called Asia Garden, it's on Pacific between Grant and Stockton. I consider it the Grande Dame of Chinatown dim sum parlors, and it was where I cut my dim sum teeth, as it were, on chicken feet almost 40 years ago. Yank Sing, at its original Broadway/Stockton location was for a time its chief competitor.

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yank sing is in the heart of the financial area...

Yank Sing actually relocated their Battery Street restaurant to Rincon Center three years ago. (The Stevenson Street location remains unchanged.)

I think this is a quibble, because most people nowadays would consider the Rincon Center area as part of the financial district. It's a lot further from Chinatown than the original location (and, apart from an occasional ABC, there's usually nary a Chinese face in sight among its customers).

Incidentally, before YS ventured south of Market, there was a wonderful little dim sum takeout on Mission near 2nd. St. called "Yin Place." (They later added a branch in the Embarcadero Center. ) They offered a variety of white syrofoam dim sum "bento" boxes similar to the ones YS Express came up with, but were cheaper and, IMHO, tastier. It was Yin Place's takeout that got me hooked on Singapore noodles. There were a number of unsupported conspiracy theories about the disappearance of Yin Place, and I did notice that some of Yin Place's counter people ended working for YS.

:cool:

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  • 3 weeks later...

i was just up in san fran this past weekend, and my friends and i wanted to go for dim sum in chinatown. thankfully i remembered this thread and researched places to go, and we ended up at y ben house. it was intimidating for my friends because i was the only chinese person among them, and pretty much everyone else at y ben house was chinese, complete with the pushy aggression you find in predominantly chinese neighborhoods and restaurants. the food was great. really good, and just as authentic as if i had gone with my grandparents to dim sum in monterey park/alhambra. and the price? i was able to feed 6 people for $46.00. you can't really beat that. :biggrin: so i just wanted to thank those who mentioned and recommended y ben house.

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Can't wait to go back to San Francisco to try out some more Dim Sum eateries especially Y Ben.

I just went to the farmers market here in New York City (union square). Damn, do I miss the market there at the Ferry Building.

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Just a note, I enjoy Y. Ben House but the place does have a distinctly funky odor that my one-time-only eating companions found offensive. If you are in any way squeamish or bothered by say, weird smells, sight of neighboring table's trash, then don't come in here.

When I bring home stuff, however, it always seems to get eaten. :hmmm:

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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