There's nothing quite like the comforting first bite of a steaming hot dumpling. Dim sum is communal, caters to almost any palate, and is often dirt cheap. We've picked a variety of spots in the bay area for you to try — and chime in and tell us your favorites as well.
This unassuming Chinese spot at the upper edge of the Castro is, hands down, the best food development to hit the neighborhood since Frances. While their home-style Sichuan dishes like Fish Fragrant Chicken (made with ingredients usually used for fish, but containing no fish) and diced pickled long beans with ground pork & chilis are delicious, the crowds keep coming for their excellent dim sum. Highlights include the shrimp and chive dumplings, and the excellent, flavorful Shanghai soup dumplings. And note that they have more dumpling options, including more deep-fried dumplings, on the daytime menu than on the dinner menu, available 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. all week long. — Jay Barmann
4416 18th Street (bet. Douglass & Eureka)
HONG KONG LOUNGE II
No longer a secret since Michael Bauer blessed it with three stars, this Inner Richmond spot isn't the cheapest in a hood filled with dim sum, but it's one of the best. Must orders include: the baked pork buns, the pan fried turnip cake, Ha Gow (shrimp dumplings), and Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork dumpling). Most of the Cantonese-style dishes, especially the seafood, are also delicate and mouth-watering. — Whitney Phaneuf
3300 Geary Boulevard
Shanghai Dumplings/Yank Sing website
Yank Sing is classic lunchtime fare, but it's also open on the weekends and worth splurging then — when you don't have to return to work with a belly full of dumplings. The Shanghai Dumpling is a must-order with its combination of minced Kurobuta Pork, scallion, ginger, and a savory broth that's a flavor explosion.
49 Stevenson Street; 101 Spear Street
Shanghai Dumpling King/foodspotting
SHANGHAI DUMPLING KING
This Outer Richmond spot boasts some of the best Shanghai soup dumplings in the Bay Area. While not the, er, freshestlooking place in the city, it sure is one of the tastiest.
3319 Balboa Street
Pan fried turnip cake at S&T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant (photo: Yelp)
S&T HONG KONG SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
We thank Tablehopper (aka Marcia Gagliardi) for many things, but one in particular is her telling us all about S&T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant in the Outer Sunset. The shrimp noodle roll, which she describes it as "a delicate rice-based noodle that was almost like a crepe, snipped at the table, and enclosing the sweetest shrimp inside," is worth the trip alone, but don't miss the pan fried turnip cake (pictured above) as well.
2578 Noriega Street
This Geary Boulevard gem is where many break their dim sum hymen. And with good reasons — it's one of the best in the city. When it comes to dim sum, there's a sliding scale of authenticity versus palatability to an American audience. Ton Kiang is the kind of spot you can bring your mom for dim sum hits like pork buns, shrimp dumplings, and sesame balls, while skipping the chicken feet and other more adventurous items (if you so desire). Here, servers skip the traditional carts and pass dim sum items by hand. It's a smallish space (compared to those giant dim sum emporiums) that still sees lines out the door on a weekend, so if you're making the trip, aim for an early weekday lunch.
5821 Geary Boulevard
Pan-seared chive dumpling at Koi Palace (photo credit: Christine C./Yelp)
This Daly City spot in the Serramonte strip mall is legit. Old ladies push carts of steaming Hong-Kong style dim sum baskets around the extravagantly decorated, 400-seat banquet hall and stack your selection on top of one another at your table. It’s loud, overwhelming, and totally worth it. Dim sum is lunch only, but served every day.
365 Gellert Boulevard, Daly City
Brock Keeling, Andrew Dalton, Rose Garrett, and Summer Sewell also contributed to this article.Siu Mai at Hong Kong Lounge II/foodspotting