Dim Sum (“yum cha” translated from Cantonese Chinese as drink tea) originated in Southern China, specifically the Canton regions including Hong Kong. But now it’s quite popular throughout the world, known as Chinese tapas and these small plates of dumplings, rolls and bite sized delights are a weekend alternative to brunch for many. Here are the top 5 in San Francisco.
1 Koi Palace
Since Daly City has a large Asian population, it’s no surprise that one of the very best Dim Sum houses is located here. Koi Palace has an efficient electronic notification system to ease the hour long waits that occur over the weekend, but the best part is obviously the dishes themselves. The dim sum here is very fresh and they offer uniquely luxurious dishes like truffled shu mai and organic pork spare ribs. Their décor includes an interior koi pond and mini pagodas to really transport the diners to historical China.
365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA
2 Yank Sing
Known for their unique clear glass teapots that one can purchase, Yank Sing serves dim sum everyday but the best time to go is the weekend when it’s served traditionally via the steaming metal carts. They offer over 100 varieties, ranging from the traditional shrimp dumplings to the more exotic razor clams in black bean sauce. We love Yank Sing for its convenient locations, bilingual servers and spaciousness.
3 Hong Kong Lounge
With a line out the door and down the street, expect hour long waits on the weekend. While the décor is nothing to write home about and they use the menu selection method for ordering dim sum, the reason it’s in our top 5 is because their dim sum is truly authentic. The dumpling skin is hand made, thin and translucent, a mark of a fine craftsmanship. The Shanghai style soup dumplings are bursting with flavor. Be forewarned, as with many things authentic, many of the waiters here have only barely proficient English and aggressive older Chinese grandmothers may cut you in line if you’re too slow.
4 Great Eastern Restaurant
President Obama made a stop here during his last visit to San Francisco and enjoyed some of the most traditional dim sum SF has to offer. Located in Chinatown, it’s sparsely decorated with the typical Chinese restaurant icons of live seafood tank, lattice wooden doors and signature roast duck window. Make sure to have their roast duck here, the skin is perfectly crispy and the meat is just packed with flavor.
5 City View Restaurant
Conveniently located on the cusp of Chinatown and FiDi, it’s tucked away in a quaint little alley. Very 1990’s Chinatown style décor complete with carved wall art traditional metal push carts. Nonetheless, the owners were thoughtful enough to provide lots of space between the tables for the carts to go through and to prevent the typical overcrowding that happens in Chinese restaurants. Some of the must have items are the egg custard tarts with their jiggly centers and flakey crusts and spicy rolled rice noodles.