With Chinese New Year fast approaching (Feb. 8), we're reminded how much we love dim sum for brunch. In San Francisco, we are lucky to have several good options for this Cantonese cuisine that features bite-sized portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. A typical dim sum brunch might include steamed buns filled with barbecued pork; dumplings and rice noodle rolls filled with beef, chicken, pork, prawns, and vegetables; roasted spare ribs; tofu skin rolls; chinese sticky rice; and sesame balls. Rather than ordering from a menu, diners simply point to the dishes they want, as waiters present them tableside on wheeled carts.
Whether you're a dim sum virgin or an experienced regular, we recommend these local restaurants for consistently good food.
Wing Lee Bakery @ 503 Clement
Located in the Richmond district, across from Green Apple Books, this small take-out shop is similar to what you'll find in Chinatown, without the chaos. We're particularly fond of their har gow, a shrimp dumpling wrapped in a thin wheat starch skin. Bring cash, because they don't accept credit cards.
Yank Sing @ 101 Spear Street and 49 Stevenson Street.
This is the go-to dim-sum spot for folks in the Financial District and SOMA. Expect high quality, but don't expect Chinatown prices. You can make reservations online, where you'll also find a brief slideshow illustrating the Art of Eating Shanghai Dumplings.
Ton Kiang @ 5821 Geary Blvd.
Because they serve dim sum all day long, Ton Kiang is a great place to take kids for an early dinner. It's also a great place to meet other grown-ups for a hangover brunch, as their family-style tables will seat a sizable crowd.
Shanghai Dumpling King @ 696 Monterey Blvd.
While all the dishes at Shanghai Dumpling King are delicious, I must make a special mention of their Sugar Egg Puff, a sugar-sprinkled puffball filled with egg custard. If someone comes by with a platter of these, even at the beginning of the meal, take it. Trust me on this.