Inspired by the recent Top Chef All Stars episode, I thought I’d offer up my favorite spots for dim sum in the city…and just so you know, this will not be any “Caucasian dim sum.” Here is a little tidbit about authentic Chinese eats. Chinese people generally do not like frills when it comes to eating. The better the restaurant grade, potentially the worse the food. Service does not matter in a Chinese place. Expect to wait. Expect to not get any water. And expect to get stared at. The best Chinese places in the Bay area are probably hole-in-the-wall spots, where no one speaks English and they have a separate menu with secret Chinese dishes on it.
Here are a couple spots I will head to for legitimate dim sum in the city. They are places where local Chinese can sit down, eat at unparalleled speed, talk loudly about as they slurp up a har gow dumpling, and maybe even spit once or twice on the table. (I am Chinese btw, so hopefully you do not take offense by my blunt, but also sarcastic view of a Sunday dim sum feast with extended relatives).
Koi Palace – you might have to trek all the way out to Daly City, but this renowned spot is worth the trek. The large space seats up to 450 people, yet you still may have to throw out an elbow or two to get a table. The impressive selection of dim sum drives the majority of crowds on weekends, but do not forget to try some of the fresh seafood, often pulled from one of the surrounding fish tanks. For dim sum, I recommend the XO Spicy Rice Noodle Roll, house special suckling pig, and the zhiu zhou dumpling.
Address: 365 Gellert Blvd (Daly City)
New Hing Lung restaurant – Probably my go-to spot for dim sum in San Francisco. Located on Noriega between 22nd and 23rd, I stumbled upon this place after an emergency siu mai craving. The spot did not disappoint, nor did the seven dim sum plates I devoured on a solo sojourn one foggy SF day. New Hing Lung is a bi-level restaurant filled with 99% Chinese people from the Sunset. Besides dim sum they are also known for having a decent noodle selection. If you are feeling adventurous the bowl of tripe with ginger and scallion is quite tasty if you can get over the texture. I also recommend the juicy pork spareribs with black bean sauce, leek pan-fried dumplings and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. The fried stuffed jalapeno with spicy salt is also a must, but be prepared to get kicked in the face with a bit of spice. Ambiance and service are not the strengths here, but it is cheap and filling with a wide range of options. The last time I went with four other people and the bill came out to no more than $15 each and we were in food coma.
Address: 1556 Noriega St (between 22nd and 23rd)
You’s – If you are in a rush and do not have time to drive to Daly City or the Sunset, head on over to Broadway near Stockton in SF’s Chinatown district. You’s has dim sum to go and you can pack a bag full of char siu baos for the ride home.
Address: 675 Broadway (at Stockton)