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S&T Hong Kong Seafood

Gimme Sum

As you make your way toward the outer avenues of the Sunset, trees become scarce and houses become squat and drab, as if pushed down by the low grey sky. But there are bright spots: the beach, Fort Funston, and S&T Hong Kong Seafood’s dim sum.

The dining room at S&T Hong Kong Seafood, which appears to be two conjoined storefronts, is plain -- no imperial flourishes -- but the space is orderly and clean, with large windows and fish tanks squirming with fish and lobsters. The air crackles with Cantonese.

Although there are several menus, including a glossy banquet menu, let’s focus on dim sum. The dining room is too tight for dim sum carts, so diners order by checking items off a carbon-paper menu. Occasionally a waiter will pass by carrying a tray and shouting the name of its contents in Cantonese. Some menu items lack English translation; on a good day, your waiter will patiently translate them. There’s rumored to be a fully translated English menu, but we’ve never seen it.

Noodle rolls -- crepe-like sheets of rice noodle rolled around your choice of filling -- are only $3.90 per order, and they rival any in the city. Even the doughnut noodle roll, which we ordered just because everyone else seemed to be, was an oddly awesome combination of sweet, salty, chewy and crispy.

At S&T, the mainstays of San Francisco dim sum -- shrimp har gow and siu mai -- are traditionally crafted and delicious, with thin, nicely cooked wrappers. The pork in the pork bun ($2.30 for three) was overly candied, but at those prices, we took another round anyway.

On one visit, the shrimp, which pop up everywhere here, were plump and perfect. On another, they bounced back to the bite and were drained of flavor. For dessert, the “Portugal Style” egg custard ($3.90 for three) is a glossy, bite-sized pleasure.

Those with foresight can avoid long waits by making reservations. Otherwise be ready to stand around waiting, or take advantage of the take-out window.

Overall, the food here meets, and sometimes surpasses, that of upscale rivals Ton Kiang and Yank Sing. And at about $15 per person, the prices are miraculous.

Sunset
Chinese
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Reservations Essential? No.