Diner Most-Loved

The 18 Best Dim Sum Spots in San Francisco

Pro tip: Dim sum isn’t a brunch-only affair.

6 min read
1/31/2022
Dim Sum - harborview

Few cities can rival San Francisco for the breadth and variety of its dim sum. There are old favorites that never slip, newer spots getting plenty of attention, and neighborhood gems that hold their own against Chinatown’s finest. And pro tip: Not all dim sum is Cantonese, nor is it a brunch-only affair. When the dim sum mood hits but you’re not leaving the house, these popular spots on Caviar have you covered.

1. Yank Sing

Open for more than 60 years, this third-generation family restaurant is where so many San Franciscans learned to love dim sum. Today, the menu makes room for both traditional and contemporary dishes, and there is so much choice that you can feel free to order with abandon.

Caviar Blog- Yank Sing

2. China Live

This marketplace/food hall/gourmet destination serves some seriously modern takes on dim sum. Char sui pork buns come in baked Dutch Crunch bread for an astonishing mouthful of texture, and the griddled buns called sheng jian bao are browned, crispy, juicy and steamy. Look past the dumpling menu to crispy Brussels sprouts and firecracker Kung Pao chicken.

3. Dragon Beaux

Famed restaurateur Willy Ng (Koi Palace) keeps the quality high at this dim sum palace. The question isn’t where to stop but how to stop. The “classics” on the menu include puffy steamed pork bao and crystal shrimp dumplings. The pan-fried daikon cake is exemplary, and if you’re a fan of those slippery rice paper rolls, there’s a whole lineup.

Caviar Blog - Dragon B

4. Great Eastern

This is the kind of old-school dim sum that made San Francisco’s Chinatown into a food capitol. It's a great place to try braised chicken feet along with all the dumplings. The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, so if a preparation grabs your eye, give it a try. The sauteed pea leaves with whole cloves of garlic are also a top pick.

5. Harborview Restaurant

This spot is all about the classics, gently updated and well-priced. Baked buns sport a crunchy sugar crust, while soup dumplings feature a filling made with premium kurobuta pork. If you’re a fan of dim sum sweets, this is your destination. Order the flaky Portuguese egg tarts and lava buns with a creamy, eggy coffee center.

6. Mama Ji’s

This pleasant Castro District spot offers dim sum alongside a full menu of Sichuan favorites, such as Chongqing Chicken, hot and numbing fish fillets, and “Ants Climbing a Tree” — a dish so named for the way ground pork bits cling to bean thread noodles. Vegans take note: There’s a lot for you on this menu.

Caviar Blog - Mama Ji's

7. Palette Tea House

Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, this elegant spot has some serious culinary swagger. The house xiao long bao comes in five different flavors (and colors). Black Swan taro puffs are so named for their surprising appearance, and plump ha gow features a lobster and shrimp filling.

8. Fang

Just a stone’s throw from SFMOMA, this restaurant offers an uptown vision of modern Chinese dim sum and street food. The trick is to go with whatever sounds the most fun. We like the crispy short rib bites over garlicky bok choy and the pan-fried wontons filled with creamy chicken and corn.

Caviar Blog - Fangs

9. Yuanbao Jiaozi

This tiny cafe at the edge of Golden Gate Park in Sunset attracts lines for its snack-friendly menu. Fans know to look for the shiitake and fish dumplings, the shrimp and three delicacies dumplings, and the red oil-slicked tofu skin stick salad. Good thing you can order it in.

10. Dumpling Home

This Hayes Valley fave brings the heat. Xiao long bao — a.k.a. soup dumplings — come with regular or hot and numbing pork fillings, and there are exemplary wontons in chili oil. Don’t miss the cold salads made with cucumbers, shredded potatoes, and slivered, addictively crunchy-chewy pigs’ ears.

11. Osmanthus Dim Sum Lounge

Steamed Cantonese dumplings are the specialty at this sleek, modern restaurant. Look for pleated Chaozhou dumplings with their sheer, see-through wrappers and coarse fillings. But don’t neglect the crispy salt-and-pepper lollipop chicken wings either.

12. Dumpling Kitchen

This modest Parkside restaurant does its neighbors right with a menu of well-prepared classics. Pan-fried Shanghai pork buns and soup dumplings in both pork and seafood varieties are the headliners, but the Shanghainese menu is worth exploring beyond dim sum. Look for regional classics like tender Lion’sHhead meatballs and roast duck.

13. City View Restaurant

This spot offers the classic San Francisco dim sum experience with an incredible array of dumplings and other items. Order all your favorites, from glutinous rice lotus leaf bundles to feathery taro puffs to the translucent shrimp dumplings. If there’s one can’t-miss, it’s the scallop siu mai.

14. Chubby Noodle on Green

This North Beach restaurant takes a Pan-Asian approach to its broad menu, making room for Korean pork tacos, Hawaiian poke, and pho. But whatever temptations they throw your way, do not miss the spicy garlic noodles.

15. Dumpling Time

As befits the Design District locale, the food at Dumpling Time is stylish and bright with modern touches. Think shrimp toast made with lengths of Chinese cruller, shrimp balls fried in bird’s nest pastry, and crispy truffled peanuts along with a nice selection of bao and siu mai. You can’t miss the colorful steamed milk buns flavored with green tea, beet, and taro.

16. House of Xian Dumpling

The name of the game here is hand-pleated dumplings with all kinds of fillings, boiled up and served by the dozen. But don’t miss the dandan noodles and the Szechuan fish filets bobbing in a chile-red broth.

17. Kingdom of Dumpling

A truly epic selection of handmade dumplings awaits at this all-day restaurant. Most options are a combination of protein + vegetable — chicken and spinach, beef and carrot, pork and cabbage — but there are a good number of vegetarian options too. Oh, and don’t sleep on the chive pancakes.

18. Shanghai Dumpling King

The name says Shanghai but this spot really offers a tour of Chinese regional cuisine. Look for Beijing-style boiled chive dumplings, Cantonese steamed pork bao, and spicy Sichuan noodles. That said, Shanghai steamed dumplings are front and center here.

19. United Dumplings

Northern Chinese dumplings and hand-pulled noodles headline the menu at this Bernal Heights destination. Many of the dishes come from family recipes, so when you see “Grandma” cited on the menu, you know it’s legit.

Author

Caviar Staff

Caviar Staff

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