January 12, 2017

Best DUMPLINGS! nuff said

January 12, 2017

Best DUMPLINGS! nuff said

Is there any food more perfect than the dumpling? It satisfies on many levels: the tender chew of the wrapper, the soft, juicy meat on the inside, and the bracing salt from most dipping sauces. Almost every culture has its version (China’s xiao long bao, Japan’s gyoza, Korea’s mandoo, etc.), and they’re all represented right here in San Francisco.

There is no shortage of delicious dumplings in this city, with many excellent versions of soup dumplings, har gow (shrimp), momo, and much more. There are dumplings to be found in every corner of SF, so it’s helpful to know which rise to the top.

These 16 restaurants have mastered the dumpling, and are sure to not let you down when the craving strikes. Some even sell frozen bags to go so you can make your own at home. No matter how you choose to eat them, here are San Francisco’s best dumplings.

1 Bund Shanghai Restaurant

Come here for the excellent xiao long bao (soup dumplings), which sport thin wrappers and juicy fillings. Prepare for future cravings by leaving with a bag of frozen dumplings to go.


2 Chili House

Made fresh daily, Chili House’s dumplings are a welcome reprieve from the numbing spices of the Sichuan fare. Choose from xiao long bao, shumai, pot stickers, and more.


3 City View Restaurant

Yank Sing may get all the SF dim sum glory, but City View should be sharing the spotlight. It’s your standard cart-style dim sum, so within seconds of sitting down, you’ll be bombarded with carts flaunting tasty dumplings and delicious small plates. There’s a pretty varied selection, and all of the stand-bys (har gow, xiao long bao, etc.) are done well.


4 Dim Sum Club

This very hidden gem on Van Ness (it’s inside da Vinci Villa hotel) has all the standard Cantonese classics (chicken and broccoli, fried rice), but the dim sum, and especially the dumplings, is the way to go. Choose from pork buns, steamed shrimp dumplings, pork and shrimp shumai, vegetarian dumplings, and soup dumplings. Or, just get them all, because they are all of very high quality, with full pieces of shrimp, tender, chewy wrappers, and expert folding.


5 Dragon Beaux 俏龍軒

Dragon Beaux has the city’s most Instagram-friendly dumplings, with the very recognizable shot (below) of five different flavors of soup dumplings (spinach skin with kale, squid ink skin with black truffle, natural skin with juicy pork, beet skin with beets, turmeric skin with crab roe). That’s in addition to its other options, like sea bass dumplings, scallop shumai, standard XLB, and more.

6 Good Mong Kok Bakery

Be prepared to wait in line at this bakery-style dim sum joint, where you order at the counter as you walk by the options and take them in a box to go. Don’t be afraid to ask what items are, or just start with some har gow (shrimp dumplings), shumai (steamed meatball dumplings), and char siu bao (steamed pork bun). Orders usually come with three pieces, and will cost around $1.50 per order, though prices have been going up. Cash only.


7 Kingdom of Dumpling

Don’t confuse this Noriega dumpling shop with its regally named rival across the park, Shanghai Dumpling King, famous for its xiao long bao. Kingdom of Dumpling serves fine XLB, but it’s really known for its Northern-style shuijiao dumplings, which are more oblong, have thicker wrappers, and fillings like lamb or pork and cabbage. There’s also a long menu of Chinese restaurant standards, including worth-ordering flaky green onion pancakes. Pro tip: Score bags of frozen dumplings to take home and steam up at your leisure. — Anna Roth


8 Koi Palace

You’ll have to venture south to experience Koi Palace, but this cavernous dim sum enclave has all the dumplings you could want, and a whole lot more. It has the same owners as Dragon Beaux, so many of the same (colorful) dumplings are available, but in a more fun, authentic dim sum atmosphere. Additional offerings include diced pork and peanut dumplings, and pork, mushroom, and shrimp shumai.


9 MaMa Ji’s

Dumplings take up a very large portion of the dim sum menu at this Castro Sichuan spot, and includes more unusual varieties such as cilantro shrimp dumplings, chive shrimp dumplings (pictured), and pork cabbage dumplings, as well as all the standards (XLB, har gow).


10 Namu Gaji

Every part of Namu Gaji’s dumplings is designed to enhance umami, from the shiitake filling to the nori garnish. Plus, during truffle season the restaurant shaves some of the prized mushroom on top. We dare you not to pick up the bowl and sip the remaining rich dashi at the bottom. Bonus: Korean mandoo have been known to make special appearances on the menu from time to time.


11 Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant 老北京

Traditional dumpling filler pork is out at this halal Chinese spot, but you won’t miss it when faced with Old Mandarin Islamic’s take on lamb and beef versions. You’ll see workers making the dumplings if you take a bathroom break through the kitchen, so you know what you’re getting is very fresh. Though not soup dumplings, the inside is juicy enough to squirt out, so proceed with (delicious) caution.


12 Red Chilli

For expert momo (Nepali dumplings), head to or order in from Red Chilli. The minced chicken filling is incredibly juicy, and the wrapping is perfectly cooked throughout, which can be hard to manage in this extra-pleated style of dumpling. Dip with abandon in the spicy momo sauce, which is tomato chutney with sesame and red chili.


13 Rintaro

Rintaro’s gyoza aren’t always on the menu, but when they are, make sure you order the Berkshire pork-filled, lattice-surrounded dumplings.


14 Shanghai Dumpling King

Dumplings are always worth the trip out to the far Avenues, and Shanghai Dumpling King’s specialty is xiao long bao. These are indisputably some of the best in town, with thin wrappers bursting with salty broth. Get an order of the regular XLB and maybe also the variation stuffed with crab, but don’t overlook the rest of the menu. The shrimp wontons in chili sauce, bready pan-fried pork buns, and chewy Shanghai noodles are all at the top of their game. — Anna Roth


15 The Morris

At $3 each, The Morris’ chicken and foie gras dumplings are among the more expensive on this list. But the decadent flavor and umami bomb that lies within the tender wrapping is worth the money, so saddle up the bar, order a few and pair them with the restaurant’s extensive wine list.


16 Yank Sing

It’s expensive for dim sum, but you get what you pay for at Yank Sing. Here, the xiao long bao are exemplary, and carts arrive in abundance carrying many other dumpling delights. Make reservations for larger parties, or wing it — just don’t be surprised if there’s a wait.