Yank Sing: It’s Raining Dim Sum in San Francisco

Chinese Restaurant San Francisco

As Yank Sing has grown in popularity, the restaurant has added patio seating.

Venerable Yank Sing dates to 1958, when Alice Chan opened a tiny dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. The flagship location has moved twice since its inception, and now occupies a large atrium space in the Rincon Center. Alice’s son Henry runs the restaurant with help from wife Judy and daughter Vera. Yank Sing means “City of the Ram” in Cantonese and refers to Guangzhou, capital of China’s Guangdong Province, a city known for its exceptional dim sum. To stay at dim sum’s forefront, Henry Chan and chef Yu Chuan Liu travel to China to get fresh ideas.

The atrium outside Yank Sing features a dramatic “waterfall,” kind of a like a huge square showerhead, which rains amidst patio diners far below.

Salad San Francisco

We started with a salad torn from Slanted Door’s a playbook: finely cut purple cabbage with jicama and honey roasted walnuts in herb dressing. It had ginger slivers instead of grapefruit sections, walnuts instead of candied pecans, and it was certainly delicious, but the inspiration was thinly veiled.

Dim Sum San Francisco

Har gow and siu mai, AKA steamed shrimp dumplings, are basic tests of a dim sum establishment, and Yank Sing prepares juicy and light versions of both dishes.

Dim Sum San Francisco

Steamed mushroom dumplings featured translucent skins and tender diced fungi within.

Peking Duck San Francisco

Golden-skinned Peking-style duck was carted around the dining room as a tantalizing tease. The waitresses had to run to the kitchen to retrieve pricey duck by the slice.

Peking Duck San Francisco

Each duck meat slice accompanied a steamed clam-shaped bun. Scallions and hoisin sauce also joined the crisp-skinned quacker. All of the ingredients converge in the bun’s velvety grip. The duck was a little too fatty, but the flavor was there.

Dumplings San Francisco

Shanghai-style steamed pork dumplings were terrific, filled with ground Kurobuta pork and eaten in a single bite from a soup spoon, so luscious juices don’t spill. The accompanying dish contains red vinegar and slivered ginger, to spoon over dumplings.

Chinese Food San Francisco

The only dud of the meal: inexplicably cold sugar snap peas that lacked snap.

Chinese Food San Francisco

Tasty string beans appeared moments after selecting disappointing snap peas. With dim sum carts swarming the dining room, it’s hard to know when a better thing will come along. Tender beans came slathered in a pungent sauce containing tiny dried shrimp.

Dim Sum San Francisco

Did the idea for steamed lobster dumplings spring from a research trip to China? Fish-shaped dumplings contain lobster roe “eyes” and huge, luscious lobster chunks.

Dim Sum San Francisco

Potstickers featured achingly-thin wrappers, juicy pork within, and nice outer crispness.

Dim Sum San Francisco

Mushroom caps were filled with juicy ground chicken and browned to a nice effect.

Dim Sum San Francisco

With all this golden batter, it’s hard to tell there’s a soft shell crab within. Crab was tender and spurted juice with every bite, and while there may have been too much batter, at least it was crispy, oily, and flavorful. Pickled ginger shavings and green onions provided nice touches.

We really racked up the stamps, one for each dish. Ws, Xx, and Zs are big ticket items, but since Yank Sing uses top ingredients, it was generally worth the added expense.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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