San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum Guide

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum Guide
Photo credit: Nate Robert

San Francisco’s deep Chinese immigrant history makes it a formidable contestant as one of the best places to get dimsum in the United States (maybe even the world after Hong Kong). As San Franciscans began moving out of the Chinatown area and into cities all over the Bay Area, the number of really great dimsum places grew exponentially.

I eat dimsum nearly every weekend, so I’d consider myself a bit of an expert.  I also seek it out when traveling and have enjoyed experiences in Hong Kong, London, Paris, Beijing, Vancouver, Seattle to name a few.  Whenever I go on a long trip there are two things I want when I get “home,” sushi and dimsum.  There is something about those little baskets of deliciousness that makes me one happy woman!

I thought I’d share a few of the San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum standouts.

SAN FRANCISCO

Yank Sing – Financial District

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - Yank Sing Scallop Dumpling
Scallop Dumpling

This is MY go-to place in the city.  I eat here at least once a month, sometimes more.  This is seated dining in the Financial District. Yank Sing is a bit on the expensive side, but the location, service, and quality of ingredients stack up to the price.  They have a diverse menu and this is the best dimsum spot for vegetarians as they have a large variety of vegetable dumplings and side dishes to choose from.  They are known for their BBQ pork buns (a Chris Cosentino favorite) and Shanghai dumplings, but my favorite item is the scallop dumplings and I can eat a couple of baskets all by myself!

101 Spear St (and second location at 49 Stevenson St)

Good Mong Kok Bakery – Chinatown

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - Good-Mong-Kok-Bakery-Bao
Char Siu bao (BBQ pork)

You’ll find this spot when you see the lines! Located in Chinatown, they serve all kinds of dimsum, and cheaply (super cheap!), but go for the buns (or bao).  There is a language barrier here, so just point at you want and have your cash ready.  I love the Choy Yok bao (veggie meat bun) with diced vegetable mixed with meat filling and the Gai bao (chicken bun) and of course the ever popular Char Siu bao (BBQ pork).

1039 Stockton St – between Jackson St & Washington St

You’s Dim Sum – Chinatown

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - Yous-Dim-Sum-Har-Gow
Har Gow (Shrimp Dumpling)

Another Chinatown spot that is fast-paced and cash only.  They have a good variety of dimsum, but are known for making pretty good shrimp dumpling (Har Gow).  The place can be intimidating but for 3 pieces of dimsum for $1.50 it is worth the trauma if you don’t speak the language!

675 Broadway (at Stockton St)

The Richmond District is well-known for its dimsum in San Francisco although I rarely head there.  It is pretty far from where I live and parking is horrendous so the only times I have been out there are when I am meeting others.

Shanghai Dumpling King  – Richmond District

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - Shanghai-Dumplings
Shanghai Dumplings

This is the one place in the Richmond I would go out of my way to visit.  As the name suggests they are known for their Shanghai dumplings (although they serve other items as well).  Known as “xiao long bao”, meaning soup dumpling, it is made with a circular base and pinched at the top prior to steaming. The restaurant is divey, not so clean and the service is on the rude side, but the dumplings…ah well, that makes it worth it….sometimes.  When I don’t feel like dealing with it I go to Yank Sing which probably serves the second best!

3319 Balboa St (between 35th Ave & 34th Ave)

There are two other Richmond District spots that often get mentioned in magazines and newspapers, but I haven’t been to them for the  earlier mentioned reasons, but I thought I’d list them here for your reference:  Hong Kong Lounge (5322 Geary Blvd between 18th Ave & 17th Ave) and Ton Kiang (5821 Geary Blvd between 23rd Ave & 22nd Ave) [was here more than 10 years ago, so can’t attest to how it is doing now].

SOUTH BAY

Hong Kong Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant – Sunnyvale

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - HK-Saigon-Seafood-Harbor-Restaurant
Chive dumplings

This crowded spot has interesting dimsum like Snowy Mountain Buns and one of my favorites chive dumplings.  They do a great purple taro bao.  These are hard to find, most places do a fried taro dumpling, so try out the bao if you go hear. Just go early!

1135 Lawrence Expressway

Champagne Restaurant – Millbrae

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - lobster-congee
Lobster congee

This place has a pretty unique menu with things I have not seen (or rarely seen) at other restaurants in the Bay Area like pumpkin seafood, deep fried pumpkin with salted yolk and roast goose.  They also have all your regular dimsum items such as dumplings, but Champagne is THE place to try congee, they have 32 of them!  I had the lobster and it was fantastic.

103 – 121 El Camino Real

Koi Palace – Daly City

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - Koi Palace Crab Congee
Crab Congee

Often argued as the best dimsum in the Bay Area, it certainly is huge.  It is a large tea-house fashioned after those that can be found in Southern China and opens at 9, but you need to start lining up at 8:30 to get a spot.  The waits are long!  They have a lot of the standard dimsum offerings, but my favorite item there is unique to this spot, Dungeness crab congee. During crab season it is the thing to get. Just make sure you save room, the bowl can serve a family of four easily!

365 Gellert Blvd

EAST BAY

Legendary Palace – Oakland

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - egg-tart
egg tart

None of these places are known for their service (except Yank Sing) but they are pretty bad here, especially if you aren’t Chinese.  I have eaten here with Chinese friends and alone, and there is a difference.  But having said that, I just go to most dimsum places not expecting any service, I’ve eat dimsum in Hong Kong and if you can survive that you can survive anything.  You go for the food.  Legendary Palace has pretty good dumplings and other dimsum specialties such as one of my favorites, pan fried chives and shrimp, but what most people rave about, and I agree, they have a great egg tart.

708 Franklin Street (at 7th Street)

Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant – Emeryville

San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum - Pan-Fried-Turnip-Cake
Pan Fried Turnip Cake

This is where I mainly go to.  Some months you can find me here every weekend!  They have a great location on the Emeryville Marina that offers a great view of San Francisco.  Best service (if you don’t count Yank Sing) of any other dimsum restaurant and the food is really great.  My only complaint is that I wish that had more seafood dumplings besides dumplings.  They have every combo of shrimp you can think of: shrimp and chive, shrimp and cilantro, etc. but I’d love a crab or scallop (which is my overall favorite dumpling). Barring that, the food is super fresh and fast.  I think they have the best fried turnip cake and when I want to get fancy I have the claypot XO version.

3199 Powell Street

How about you? Do you have a San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum spot to add? How’s the dimsum in your town?

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63 Comments

  1. Melanie
    September 5, 2013

    THANK YOU for the Dim Sum post. I am heading to San Francisco next week and Chinatown is on the top of the list. I had picked out one that you mentioned so I am excited to check them out.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 5, 2013

      @Melanie, I am do glad to hear that! Love to hear back how it went when you return from your trip!

      Reply
  2. The Wanderfull Traveler
    September 5, 2013

    Ugh I could have really used this list when I was in San Francisco last week lol. I ended up going to the same spot I went during my 1st trip for dim sum which was New Asia. I personally love their food (but not their lobster noodle dish) but then again I have only tried it at New Asia, one half descent place here in Kelowna and one delicious spot in Toronto. I bow to the master of dim sum, Andi Fisher!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 6, 2013

      @Murissa, you are too funny! Not a master, but definitely working on practicing!

      Reply
  3. Lobster congee? OMG YUM!!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 6, 2013

      @Andi, do you eat lobster? I can’t remember if you eat seafood.

      Reply
  4. Lauren
    September 6, 2013

    I STILL haven’t been to Yank Sing! Or any of these for that matter. Andi, will you be my tour guide when I’m back in the city? Pretty please? 😀

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 6, 2013

      @Lauren, definitely! There is Yank Sing on Stevenson right around the corner from my office and AFAR, it is a must do when you are in town!

      Reply
  5. Michelle
    September 6, 2013

    Cool post Andi! My go-to place in the city is Hong Kong Lounge (I not II — food is better at I, although the line is longer). If I don’t feel like braving the lines and want easy parking, I’ll do City View near Chinatown. Yank Sing and Koi are fine every once in a while, but I don’t think the quality and taste difference justify the price. I will say I’ve had some standout dishes the one time I went to Fu Lam in Mountain View. Mayflower is typically decent, and Millbrae also has a few good places. Definitely not like HK, Vancouver or my favorite dumplings at Din Tai Fung. But it all satisfies the craving. And for egg tarts in particular, the fuss around Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown I think is totally warranted, if you can catch them while they’re open!

    Reply
  6. Katie @ Domestiphobia.net
    September 11, 2013

    You are KILLING me with this! KILLING. ME.

    (sent from middle-of-nowhere, NC. thank you.)

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 14, 2013

      @Katie, you are moving to VA right, they’ve got some spots in the state 😉

      Reply
  7. Daisy de Plume
    September 24, 2013

    honestly what a HORRIBLE post to read, when I’m so far from SF and can’t eat my way through your list. We spent every other meal down in China town when visiting NY this past Aug, One of the few things I miss dearly about NY — or HK and Shanghai, where I used to go often – for that matter. Great snaps as always. The soup dumplings are what hurt the most

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      September 25, 2013

      @Daisy, Ann Mah says the dimsum at the Mandarin Oriental is passable, although likely a bit on the expensive side! There is a great spot in London which is not too far out of reach. It is called Ping Pong and they have a couple locations and it is quite decent!

      Reply
  8. Heather
    November 23, 2013

    The Chive dumplings look amazing!

    Reply
  9. Luchessa
    December 7, 2013

    Oh my these Har Gow look really delicious. Your pic def made me hungry 😀
    Thanks for such a yammy food guide. Will check out your other food posts. Xo, Luchessa.org

    Reply
  10. Tommy Gunn
    December 14, 2013

    Always wanted to try some Dimsum, looks and sounds deeeleeesh.

    I live around Seattle, any places you’d recommend here, if you’ve ever visited?

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 14, 2013

      @Tommy, I went to Jade Garden in the International District at it was really good, that is the only one I have been to, so can’t recommend more, sorry!

      Reply
  11. Maribel
    March 4, 2014

    Great post. Dumplings are my favorite too!

    Reply
  12. Gabby
    March 17, 2014

    You know, I’m in Chicago (where there’s a TON of Asian food spots)… and I’ve never tried dimsum! But it’s something I have always wanted to try. Those BBQ pork ones looks exceptionally delicious.

    Reply
  13. Brooklyn Jolley
    December 11, 2014

    I’m so sheltered, I haven’t ever heard of dimsum! LOL! All of those look so yummy though!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Brooklyn, where do you live? (I could not tell from your About page) there might be some great spots near you.

      Reply
  14. Kayli Schattner
    December 11, 2014

    Ah, everything on this list looked SO. Dang. Good! I’m hoping to make it out to San Fran in 2015, so I’ll have to keep these in mind. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Kayli, I hope you do, but if you don’t get to the dimsum, San Francisco has plenty of great food in every corner!

      Reply
  15. Catheryn Cervantes
    December 11, 2014

    Wow hats off to you on compiling this list, looked like such hard work! wink wink You had me a lobster. It all looks so yummy.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Catheryn, it is something I practice every week!

      Reply
  16. Jen Hacker
    December 11, 2014

    awesome! can’t wait to hit up one of these spots the next time I’m up in SF!
    xo Jen | The Single Diaries
    http://www.thesinglediaries.com

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Jen, have you tried any dimsum in the city?

      Reply
      1. Jen Hacker
        December 14, 2014

        no I haven’t : ( but I’m planning to make a few trips up soon so I definitely want to try one

        Reply
        1. Andi Fisher
          December 14, 2014

          @Jen, can’t wait to read what you think on your own blog!

          Reply
  17. Angelic Sinova
    December 11, 2014

    This just makes me want to visit SF MORE! My mom has been and talked about her love for Shanghai Dumpling King <3

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Angelic, they are so yummy!

      Reply
  18. Nancy
    December 11, 2014

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had dimsum before, nor proper Chinese food (as opposed to American Chinese food)! I’ll have to try it out sometime.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Nancy, you should try and there are great options in the South Bay.

      Reply
  19. jessa
    December 11, 2014

    Oh had the best dim sum somewhere out on Geary in the Richmond. It was deep, like past the Bodin bakery. It was really, really good though. Oh I miss the food in SF. You could eat at a different place for three meals a day for a year and not go to the same place twice.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Jessa, all the dimsum out in the Richmond rocks, you can’t go wrong!

      Reply
  20. Amby Felix
    December 11, 2014

    I love North Beach because I can enjoy delicious dim sum then stop and pick up some Italian confections before heading home. I know it’s random, but it’s a favorite thing to do when I’m in that area of SF.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Amby, you have just named the perfect morning!

      Reply
  21. Claire
    December 11, 2014

    This is awesome! Would love to visit San Fran again sometime!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Claire, what was your favorite spot you at when you did visit?

      Reply
  22. karissa
    December 11, 2014

    Oh my I shouldn’t be looking at food right now, I’m starving.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Karissa, the dangers of reading a food blog.

      Reply
  23. Michelle Webber
    December 11, 2014

    Ooh! I always think Vancouver, BC as one of the best with a very large Chinese population. I have never been to San Fran, but I’m going to have to indulge when I do go and visit!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Michelle, Vancouver has great dimsum! You must try it out if you come here, but we have so much great food here, you can eat anything and love it!

      Reply
  24. Angie Scheie
    December 11, 2014

    Wow! The Mother of all Dim Sum Guides!! I know where I’m going to turn if I decide to try some;).

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Angie, there is great dimsum in Seattle, happy to give suggestions!

      Reply
  25. Rachel @ Bakerita
    December 12, 2014

    Somehow…I’ve never had dim sum! I’ve always wanted to try it, and after reading this post, I REALLY want to try it. All these places sound delicious!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Rachel, I am not sure about Tacoma (I lived in Lakewood for 3 years and went to Steilacoom high school!) but I KNOW that there are great places in Seattle, I am happy to give recommendations!

      Reply
  26. Brenda
    December 12, 2014

    What an awesome guide! I absolutely love dim sum!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Brenda, what’s your favorite? And where?

      Reply
  27. Alyssa
    December 12, 2014

    I have NEVER heard or seen any of these foods, i feel like I live under a rock. haha! Great review on each, I kind of have kid taste buds so I’m not sure I’d like this, but they look cool!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Alyssa, I am sure we could find something you would like!

      Reply
  28. Shipra
    December 13, 2014

    Yummy! I love dumplings, and these look like a must have! <3

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 13, 2014

      @Shipra, they are! Where do you go for dumplings where you live?

      Reply
  29. Rebekah
    December 15, 2014

    mmmm this all looks delicious! If I ever make it down to san fran I will be referencing your map!

    Reply
  30. Lauren
    December 15, 2014

    My husband went to Yank Sing with a friend and was raving about it. We have a couple places in Mountain View you should try. I really like Fu Lam Mum!

    Reply
  31. Ash L.
    December 21, 2014

    I’ve been to Yank Sing and oh my delicious!!!

    Reply
  32. Breanna
    December 23, 2014

    All of that looks so good! I love dumplings. I would love to go to the West Coast!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      December 29, 2014

      @Breanna, do they have dumplings where you live?

      Reply
  33. Matthew
    February 22, 2015

    Dude, your missing out if you don’t go to S&T on Noriega in the Sunset District, get the crispy fried fish and pretty much anything else, that’s where most of the asians in SF live anyway.

    Reply
  34. […] terms of eating, I was really good.  I ate a lot of salads.  I did have some of my beloved dimsum on Tuesday which I am considering as my cheat day.  I had 8 dumplings, considering I could put […]

    Reply
  35. […] proper and about 30 minutes away. Both are popular, lots of people dining, the food is decent but it ain’t no San Francisco! Still, it makes me feel at home to be regularly eating dimsum again. I missed that the year we […]

    Reply
  36. Wanda Tracey
    October 20, 2017

    I love XXX dimsum ! My aunt lives in San Francisco so I must tell her about these places and maybe visit some of them myself.Thanks for the awesome post.

    Reply
  37. […] that I could bring you my guides on the best food in the city. A San Francisco Weekend for Foodies San Francisco Bay Area Dimsum Guide Burgers in San Francisco San Francisco’s Best Cheeseburgers A Sampling of Some of SF’s Best […]

    Reply

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