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Dim sum at Yank Sing
Photograph: Courtesy Yank Sing

The best dim sum San Francisco has to offer

Looking for the best dim sum San Francisco has to offer? From high-end joints to casual takeout, this city has it all

Written by
Clara Hogan
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If you’re set on finding the best dim sum San Francisco has to offer, our first tip may surprise you: venture beyond Chinatown. Sure, Chinatown has plenty of incredible dumpling shops. But locals know that some of San Francisco’s dim sum stand-outs are found not on Grant Avenue, but farther west in the Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods.

Eating dim sum in San Francisco is a staple experience, and the options range from high-end thrills (take the white-tablecloth vibes at Yank Sing, for example) to a no-frills ambience at mom-and-pop joints. Lately, some of the newest, drool-worthy dim sum restaurants are even going modern, upending a normally classic atmosphere with trendy interiors and flavors.

From joints with traditional dim sum carts to extra-casual cheap eats, here’s the best dim sum San Francisco is serving right now.

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Best dim sum in San Francisco, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Fisherman's Wharf

SF's newest dim sum spot is also one of the splashiest. Located at Ghirardelli Square, Palette Tea House focuses on fresh seafood and Instagram-worthy dumplings such as rainbow-colored soup dumplings, matcha lava bao (filled with salted egg custard), black swan taro puffs, and squid ink dumplings (filled with pork, jicama, and peanuts). Although it’s new, the restaurant was founded by the same family that runs Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux—in other words, this place has serious credentials.

  • Restaurants
  • Inner Richmond
  • price 1 of 4

This small Richmond shop serves up an authentic dim sum experience that won’t dominate your day or decimate your wallet. With only six tables, most guests opt for takeout, and although lines are long on weekends they move quickly. The brusque but efficient service doesn’t hurt either. Don’t miss the nuomici, a mochi-like coconut rice ball that’s filled with peanut paste before it’s dusted in ground peanuts and shaved coconut.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Russian Hill
  • price 2 of 4

A multi-floored ode to modern Chinese food, this stylish downstairs restaurant at China Live is worlds away 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 that include a succulent sheng jian bao 'SJB' (pan-fried pork dumplings), spicy Sichuan "Working Hands" dumplings in sesame butter and peppercorn-chili broth, and kumquat glazed Peking duck tucked into sesame bread pockets.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • SoMa
  • price 3 of 4

At Yank Sing, a 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmand winner, it’s OK to point: instead of placing an order, dim sum carts whizz around the room and all you need to do is point at any of the options being carted around (you may not always know exactly what you’re getting, but the unexpected culinary surprise is 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, think of Yank Sing as the go-to special occasion destination.

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5. Dumpling Alley

Clement Street in the Outer Richmond is lined with dim sum shop after dim sum shop—it can be hard to choose just one. You won't be disappointed, though, if you select Dumpling Alley for your feast. This modern joint lets visitors watch as chefs craft dumplings by hand, making it a feast for the eyes as well. There’s a huge selection of dumplings up for grabs, whether steamed or pan-fried, not to mention a handful of noodle dishes. Don't miss the squid ink pork, napa cabbage, and thai basil dumplings—or, if you’re hoping your dumplings look extra good on the Gram, opt for the two-tone spinach juice wrappers for some serious eye candy.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • The Castro
  • price 2 of 4

Mama Ji (named after the owner, Lily Ji) lovingly puts her own spin on family recipes and traditional dishes. Highlights include the 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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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Outer Richmond
  • price 2 of 4

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.

This isn't your average—or even traditional—dumpling shop. Far from some of the old school joints in Richmond or Chinatown, Dumpling Time is a modern, Cal-Asian take on dim sum. Located in the design district of Soma, the restaurant is by the same team behind the Michelin-starred Omakase. The contemporary space, featuring projected K-pop music videos and neon signs, is often packed. People flock here for the edgy takes on dumplings, noodles, and cocktails, all for an affordable price. Don't miss the soup dumplings, BBQ pork buns, and the juicy selection of gyoza.
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  • Restaurants
  • Chinatown
  • price 2 of 4
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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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  • Restaurants
  • North Beach
  • price 2 of 4

With hip hop blaring and carafes of saké flowing, both of 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 hotspots.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Laurel Heights
  • price 2 of 4

Even though it's temporarily closed due to a pipeline explosion, we'd be remiss not to mention the reigning king of dim sum in SF. 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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