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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About Andi Fisher

I'm a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. I love to travel via my stomach eating and seeking out local artisans to feature here. I'm a big supporter of the blogging community and love highlighting travel and food bloggers for you to meet.

Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. Lobster congee? OMG YUM!!!

  4. 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? 😀

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @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!

  5. 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!

  6. You are KILLING me with this! KILLING. ME.

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

  7. 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

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @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!

  8. The Chive dumplings look amazing!

  9. 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

  10. Tommy Gunn says:

    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?

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @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!

  11. Maribel says:

    Great post. Dumplings are my favorite too!

  12. 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.

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

    • Andi Fisher says:

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

  14. 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. 🙂

    • Andi Fisher says:

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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

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

  23. 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!!

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @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!

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

  25. 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!

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @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!

  26. What an awesome guide! I absolutely love dim sum!

  27. 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!!

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

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

  30. 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!

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

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

  33. 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.

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