Food & Drink

Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

November 27, 2011 10:13 AM

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Pork sui mye from Yank Sing. (credit:

Pork sui mye from Yank Sing. (credit:

Dim Sum means “touch the heart” in Cantonese and that is what each little dish does. Each little dumpling is like a present and you are excited about what you get inside. San Francisco, with its large Asian community, has dim sum places everywhere. Not all of them are created equal. Here are the ones that stand out from the rest.

goodluckdimsum Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

That's Good Luck Dim Sum behind the truck. (credit:


Good Luck Dim Sum

736 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 386-3388

People gather here for good and cheap dim sum. Cheap is a good thing here! Prices range from 3 for under $1.50 upwards to $2 a piece, depending on the type of dim sum. A party of 2 can easily get full for under $10, which is a great bargain, especially in this economy. Enjoy the char siu bao (steamed BBQ pork buns), pork siu mai, and fried sesame balls knowing you’re not spending too much money. Good luck, indeed!

koipalace Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

Koi Palace at Daly City. (credit:


Koi Palace

365 Gellert Boulevard
Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 992-9000

You have been given fair warning: arrive early. Why? The dim sum is top notch. The dining room is gorgeous. With the koi pond in the middle of the restaurant, you feel as if you’re in an emperor’s home. Their dim sum menu includes teas, dumplings, and even congee – a rice porridge. Among the favorites are the chicken feet, suckling pig, and pork spare ribs. Who said you have to be in SF to enjoy good dim sum?

shanghai dumpling king Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

Xiao long bao (soup dumplings) from Shanghai Dumpling King. (credit: Joanne Boston)


Shanghai Dumpling King

3319 Balboa Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 387-2088

“Xiao Long Bao,” or XLB, is a pork dumpling originating from Shanghai, China. Because most dim sum restaurants are Cantonese, it is advised that one goes to a Shanghainese eatery to experience the best XLB. What makes XLB (aka “soup dumplings”) so special is the broth housed inside the steamed wrapper. Pick up the dumpling, being careful not to tear it, dip it in the pungent black vinegar, bite a little hole in the wrapper and either suck out the soup or let it drain onto a spoon. There are different methods of eating it, but the ending is the same: a very satisfied eater.

tonkiang Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

Patrons enjoy dim sum at Ton Kiang. (credit:


Ton Kiang

5821 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 752-4440

Ton Kiang in the Richmond District serves dim sum from 10:30am to 10:00pm everyday, so you can have your fill anytime. You can order off the menu or take a chance and grab a plate from the trays the servers bring to each table. Watch the kitchen door! A new dish comes out every few minutes. Superlatives: “nai wong siu ben” – egg custard rice cakes and “gao choy got” – shrimp and chive dumplings.

yanksing Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

Pork sui mye from Yank Sing. (credit:


Yank Sing

Rincon Center
101 Spear Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 957-9300

If you want upscale dim sum experience complete with the servers pushing carts, this is the place for you. Take your pick from over 50 selections available each day. It’s going to be hard to choose as each handmade dumpling and tender slice of Peking duck is flavorful and succulent. When you finally do see something you like, just point at what you want and you will be served a tasty dish that will whet your appetite for more.

joanne Best Dim Sum In San Francisco

Joanne Boston (credit: Joanne Boston)

Joanne Boston is a food blogger from San Francisco who is always on the lookout for great food. She loves hosting twEAT-ups with fellow foodies and enjoys learning about the restaurant scene in any city she visits. Catch her on her blog and on Twitter @joanneisafoodie.

View Comments
  • Sam Mallory

    No Dim Sum for me. W/E happened to non ethnic centric cuisines…Asian trends in eating are a dime a dozen. One week its Ramen the next week its Dim Sum.

    • Nancy

      That’s because you’re caucusIon Mr. Mallory, for us Asian folk we be eating that dim sum and ramen everyday. I happen to love all food whether it’s “ethnic” or not. You white folk food is pretty good too, I go to the trendy spots too. Guess you’re going to bypass the whole mobile food trend too huh? Unfortunately for you, you’re missing out on some amazing food.

    • tn

      Centric? Yes, Asian trends have been happening for about 2000 years longer than we Americans have been around, and regarding a dime a dozen- maybe it’s because almost 20% of the world’s population is Asian? Try some of the above places as I grew up in Chinatown and will agree with most of Ms. Boston’s recommendations. Most of it is pretty healthy too (at least healthier than many other “established” cuisines).

  • xtanner

    If you dont like it, it’s probably because it wasnt done well! You just have to get out and try different restaurants. Some restaurants do a good job, others maybe no so much. Don’t give up! There is such a variety out there, you will find something you like.

    • SamW

      I completely agree with you, xtanner. And it should have nothing with being of an particular ethnic race. It depends merely on the particular restaurant.

  • Lee Anne Boles

    I love dim sum, and I’m caucasian! I love lots of different ethinic foods. That doesn’t mean I don’t go for plain ole “non-ethnic” food – there’s lots of it to be had in the Bay Area. Dim Sum is not a trend, it’s been around for a long time in the Bay Area.

  • Julien

    Growing up in the Bay Area(attended St. Anne’s School, St. Ignatius College Prep, and SJSU), I developed a taste for all types of foods, from French, to Italian, to Spanish to Chinese and Samoan. The foods themselves are like introductions into these fantastic cultures. I am so greatful for the exposure!

    • Cecilia

      I so agree with you in regards to embracing different cultures and their food, besides a great time eating is has brought me wonderful friendships. And by the say I also attended St. Annes School during the Monsignor Morriarty rule, then Presentation High.


    Good luck dimsim is literally the Asian Dimsum Nazi. Extremely horrible customer service, so you better know what you want and quick. Koi Palace overrated. Not great food, and we overheard them talking smack (Im a Cantonese speaker) about our table because the we had two white guys who were apparently too loud, LOL the irony. Shanghai dumpling king are very nice folk. Dimsum restaurants are a dime a dozen, you might as well choose one that doesnt treat you like theyre doing you a favor.

  • Karen

    I started studying Mandarin specifically so that I could get the dimsum that the cart ladies swept past me. Makes a difference.

  • Ramon Chaves

    Your right! why are the asian waiter rude? Their all that way.

  • yasushii

    Being Chinese, I disagree with all the picks. She just had to pick the some of THE most overpriced and most hyped up dim sum places that regular Chinese people don’t go to on a daily basis. I’m sorry, but just because she’s a “food blogger” doesn’t mean she’s qualified to give me the list of the best dim sum places. Ask someone who eats dim sum on a weekly basis. I mean, come on — Yank Sing? YANK SING? Really? Go ask any Chinese shopper in Chinatown if they go to Yank Sing. They’ll look at you peculiarly. If you want good, cheap dim sum, there are plenty of places in SF Chinatown that will fit your wallet and needs.

    This list reminds me of the time the Chronicle published an article on how to eat dim sum — and for the “expert”, they asked a northern Chinese person!

  • Jim

    I thought “Dim Sum” meant “Drink Tea” ? Since when it became “Touch the Heart”?

    • -_-

      that’s yum cha.

  • ms

    Lame choices. Yank Sing is overpriced pseudo dim sum. It’s like calling PF Changs real Chinese food. Koi is not even in SF and it’s also overrated. You want some real good dim sum, leave SF and go to the Millbrae area. You have places like Zen Peninsula, The Kitchen, and Hong Kong Flower Lounge who do dim sum a lot better than Yank Sing and Koi.

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