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The best dim sum in San Francisco for delicious dumplings and buns

Looking for the city’s best dim sum? San Francisco has plenty, from traditional rolling carts to cheap take-out.

Dim Sum Club
Photograph: Yelp/Tiffany W
By Virginia Miller and Shoshi Parks |
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If you’re dead set on finding the best dim sum in San Francisco, our first tip is to venture beyond Chinatown. San Francisco locals know that some of the best dumplings and steamed buns are found not on Grant Avenue, but farther west in the Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods. From traditional rolling carts to fresh and cheap eats in SF, our picks for San Francisco’s best dim sum are exactly what you’ve been craving.

RECOMMENDED: Best Chinese restaurants in San Francisco 

Dim sum in San Francisco

1
Hong Kong Lounge II, one of the best restaurants in San Francisco
Photograph: Courtesy Hong Kong Lounge II
Restaurants, Seafood

Hong Kong Lounge II

icon-location-pin Laurel Heights

Even though the restaurant is temporarily closed due to a pipeline explosion, we'd be remiss not to mention the reigning king of dim dum in SF on this list. Hong Kong Lounge II, located in the Inner Richmond, will cure any craving for quality Chinese food. Their extensive dumpling menu includes crowd pleasers like crispy fried seafood and more traditional options like steamed chicken feet, baked char siu bao (pork buns) and har gow (shrimp dumplings). If you want to try something a little different, taste the savory-sweet coffee pork ribs, egg yolk almond balls and plump shrimp noodle rolls.

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Good Luck Dim Sum, one of the best restaurants in San Francisco
Photograph: Betty Tsang/Flickr
Restaurants, Dim sum

Good Luck Dim Sum

icon-location-pin Inner Richmond

This small Richmond shop serves up authentic dim sum without dominating your day or decimating your wallet. With only six tables, most opt to take-out, checking off their desired dumplings on an order form while waiting in a line which, though it gets long on weekends, moves quickly. The brusque but efficient service doesn’t hurt either. Most sets of three items cost $2 so it’s easy to load up on pork siu mai or juicy shrimp chive dumplings with no regrets. Don’t miss the nuomici, a mochi-like coconut rice ball filled with peanut paste and dusted in ground peanuts and shaved coconut.

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3
Dumplings on a plate
Photo Credit: Photograph: Yelp/Gary S
Restaurants, Chinese

China Live

icon-location-pin Russian Hill

A multi-floored ode to modern Chinese food, the stylish downstairs restaurant at China Live is worlds apart from the classic no-frills dining rooms of most San Francisco dim sum spots. The food here is just as creative, with flavor-filled bites which include the succulent sheng jian bao 'SJB' (pan-fried pork dumplings), spicy-good Sichuan "Working Hands" dumplings in sesame butter and peppercorn-chili broth, and kumquat glazed Peking duck tucked into sesame bread pockets.

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Soup dumplings at Yank Sing
Photograph: Jun Seita
Restaurants, Chinese

Yank Sing

icon-location-pin SoMa

At Yank Sing, a 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmand winner, you order by pointing to what looks good on passing carts; you may not always know exactly what you’re getting but the unexpected culinary surprises are half the fun. Their Shanghai dumplings are iconic, as are their har gow (shrimp dumplings), but we also love the snow pea shoots and taro root dumplings. Pricier than your typical dim sum restaurant, consider Yank Sing a go-to special occasion destination.

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5
Mama Ji's
Photograph: Courtesy Mama Ji's
Restaurants, Chinese

MaMa Ji's

icon-location-pin The Castro

Mama Ji (owner Lily Ji) lovingly prepares family recipes, putting her own spin on traditional dishes. Think: pea sprout shrimp dumplings, chicken shrimp shumai, spicy cold noodles and fried pumpkin “cakes” filled with red bean paste for dessert. On weekends, cure your hangover with a smattering of dim sum plates coupled with a Belgian ale.

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Dragon Beaux
Photograph: Albert Law
Restaurants, Chinese

Dragon Beaux

icon-location-pin Outer Richmond

Clean, bright and modern, Dragon Beaux is a sleek Outer Richmond dim sum experience from the owners of Daly City’s beloved Koi Palace. The restaurant serves a variety of elevated favorites, including vibrant xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) colored with beet, saffron, spinach or squid ink. Make sure to order the lau saa bao (rice flour bun filled with sweet, creamy egg and sugar custard), shrimp rice crepe rolls and durian puffs.

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7
Great Eastern Restaurant
Photograph: Yelp/Jenn G.
Restaurants

Great Eastern

icon-location-pin Chinatown

Great Eastern has long been a Chinatown institution drawing presidents (Obama ate here in 2012), tourists and locals for a taste of its old school dim sum. Favorites include seafood dishes like cilantro shrimp dumplings and deep-fried seaweed roll with fish, alongside only-for-the-experienced-palate options like bitter melon beef dumplings. Black sesame balls and deep fried pumpkin and egg yolk custard balls are a sweet ending for some of the city’s best Chinese fare.

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East Ocean Seafood Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in San Francisco
Photograph: Courtesy East Ocean Seafood Restaurant
Restaurants, Dim sum

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

icon-location-pin Alameda

Don’t confuse this Alameda dim sum mainstay with the Emeryville restaurant of a similar name; East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is the better of the two. What the cavernous space lacks in panache it makes up for in its extensive menu of beautifully executed Hong Kong-style dishes, with dim sum served daily from 10am-2:30pm. Gorge on an extensive list of classics like haa gao and char siu. For those in the know, the chicken feet here are a particular favorite. Expect something of a wait on weekends but, thanks to the size of the dining room, you’ll be gorging on dumplings before you know it.

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9
Good Mong Kok Bakery
Photograph: Yelp/Anny T.
Restaurants, Dim sum

Good Mong Kok Bakery

icon-location-pin Chinatown

At this Chinatown hole-in-the-wall, the take-out only dim sum is generous, cheap and delicious. Their menu includes classics like shui mai, steamed chive dumplings and BBQ pork buns along with more old-world options like shark fin dumplings, turnip cakes, and preserved egg and pork porridge. All dishes, including many that come with three pieces to an order, cost less than $3.30.

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Dim Sum Club
Photograph: Yelp/Tiffany W
Restaurants, Chinese

Dim Sum Club

icon-location-pin Russian Hill

Don’t let the odd location of this Russian Hill restaurant fool you, the under-the-radar Dim Sum Club is making some of the best dumplings, buns and cakes in the city. During afternoon hours, the small restaurant tucked into the lobby of the Da Vinci Villa Hotel offers a wide selection of traditional favorites, including a mean xiao long bao served with black vinegar and an impressive take on noodle rolls thick with barbeque pork, spare ribs, soy, fish, or Chinese donuts. It’s not the most economical dim sum around (items cost around $5 each) but the larger-than-average portions are bursting with flavor.

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11
Chubby Noodle
Photograph: Yelp/Lily L
Restaurants

Chubby Noodle

icon-location-pin North Beach

With hip hop blaring and carafes of saké flowing, both Chubby Noodle’s locations (Marina and North Beach) are popular for their bottomless dim sum brunches ($45 per person on weekends). Fill up on Kung Pao wings, salt and pepper shrimp, steamed pork buns and mountains of noodles at both festive locations. 

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Xiaolongbao
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Todd Lappin
Restaurants, Dim sum

Shanghai Dumpling King

icon-location-pin Outer Richmond

It’s hard to beat the likes of $7.95 for 10 xiao long bao at Shanghai Dumpling King. From the pan-fried BBQ pork buns to nutty spicy wontons, most items hover around $7 to $8 for eight to 10 dumplings or buns. Round out your meal with an order of sugar egg puffs—fluffy, hot-from-the-fryer doughnuts. 

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13
Hakkasan
Photograph: Courtesy Hakkasan
Restaurants, Chinese

Hakkasan

icon-location-pin Financial District

Dark, sexy and alluring, the San Francisco branch of Hakkasan is located smack dab in the middle of Downtown. A la carte items are available for lunch and dinner and special seasonal menus showcase creative options like jade lobster daikon rolls, cuttlefish mei si rolls or XO scallop puffs.

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