The Shanghai dumpling sampler at Koi Palace. Jeff Cianci
The Shanghai dumpling sampler at Koi Palace. (Jeff Cianci)

Bay Area Bites Guide to 5 Favorite Dim Sum Restaurants South of San Francisco

Bay Area Bites Guide to 5 Favorite Dim Sum Restaurants South of San Francisco

A special Cantonese cuisine characterized by small plates of steamed, fried, or baked specialties served alongside hot tea, dim sum is a unique dining experience and a delicious way to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The hustle and bustle of servers pushing carts full of steamer baskets past your table can be overwhelming, but the hunt for your favorite dishes makes it a delicious adventure. While Chinatown in San Francisco may seem like the obvious place to visit, there are several excellent dim sum restaurants in the South Bay Area and along the peninsula. Here is our list of 5 favorite dim sum restaurants South of San Francisco. If we missed your favorite, please be sure to let us know in the comments.

Steamed shrimp dumplings at Koi Palace.
Steamed shrimp dumplings at Koi Palace. (Jeff Cianci)

A visit to Koi Palace is a must for any proclaimed Bay Area dim sum fan. Arrive for brunch on the weekend and be prepared to wait for up to an hour to be seated at this bustling, elegant dim sum restaurant. The popular Shanghai steamed dumpling sampler features a colorful collection of steamed pork dumplings in flavors ranging from fresh beets to a luxurious black truffle. Seafood fans will enjoy the plump steamed shrimp dumplings topped with a salty and spicy XO sauce. Prized abalone is also served in several different preparations.

Koi Palace
365 Gellert Blvd. [map]
Daly City, CA 94015
Ph: (650) 992-9000
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-2:30pm, 5-9:30pm; Fri 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm; Sat 10am-3pm, 5-10pm; Sun 9am-3pm, 5-9:30pm
Facebook: Koi Palace
Twitter: @Koi_Palace
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

Pork and dried shrimp dumplings at Tai Pan.
Pork and dried shrimp dumplings at Tai Pan. (Jeff Cianci)

With white linen tablecloths and fine Chinese art setting the atmosphere, Tai Pan is a relaxing and elegant alternative to the typically boisterous dim sum restaurants. There are no dim sum carts at Tai Pan. Instead, you tally your selections on a menu card and enjoy freshly prepared dishes delivered from the kitchen to your table. The glorious rice puff with sweet and savory minced pork in gravy is a must-have dish; as are the flavorful pork and dried shrimp dumplings with minced pork, salty dried shrimp, green onions, and peanuts.

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Tai Pan
560 Waverley St. [map]
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Ph: (650) 329-9168
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-3pm, 5:30-9:30pm
Facebook: Tai Pan Palo Alto
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

Steamed pork dumplings in a spicy peanut sauce.
Steamed pork dumplings in a spicy peanut sauce. (Jeff Cianci)

The dumplings and buns at this small Chinese restaurant in Millbrae has earned Shanghai Dumpling Shop recommendations from both the Michelin Guide and Zagat, as well as numerous accolades from local newspapers and magazines. The most popular item on the menu are the pork Shanghai steamed dumplings, which arrive in a steamer basket with soup spoons necessary to catch the five spice flavored broth as you sink your teeth into the tasty morsels. Also popular are the large soy braised “lion head” beef meatball, steamed dumplings in a spicy peanut sauce, and pan-fried pork buns.

Shanghai Dumpling Shop
455 Broadway [map]
Millbrae, CA 94030
Ph: (650) 697-0682
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-3pm, 5-9pm
Facebook: Shanghai Dumpling Shop
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

Fried shrimp balls at Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant.
Fried shrimp balls at Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant. (Jeff Cianci)

Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant is located in an unassuming shopping mall in Sunnyvale. However, on weekends the crowds for dim sum overflows into the parking lot as guests endure a long wait to be seated. Tables are packed close together inside the bustling restaurant but the dim sum selections are delicious. Popular items include sweet shrimp dumpling wrapped in sticky rice; shrimp dumplings in a deep-fried crispy shell, sticky rice with diced chicken steamed in a lotus leaf; and the sweet and fluffy “snow mountain” taro buns for dessert.

Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant
1135 Lawrence Expy. [map]
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Ph: (408) 734-2828
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm, 5-9:30pm; Sat-Sun 10am-3pm, 5-10pm
Facebook: Hong Kong Saigon Restaurant
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

Pan-fried chive and shrimp dumplings at Ocean Delight.
Pan-fried chive and shrimp dumplings at Ocean Delight. (Jeff Cianci)

Ocean Delight in South San Jose serves traditional dim sum favorites as well as a full menu of Chinese seafood specialties. Steamed, fried, and braised dishes are served from a number of carts that circle the dining room. Compared to other Bay Area dim sum restaurants, Ocean Delight remains busy but not overwhelming during weekend brunch hours. Personal favorites on the menu include the pan-fried chive and shrimp dumplings, steamed shrimp and crab dumplings, shrimp stuffed mushrooms, and fried shrimp stuffed eggplant in a sweet and savory black bean sauce.

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Ocean Delight
5400 Monterey St. [map]
San Jose, CA 95111
Ph: (408) 281-3838
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:30am-9:30pm; Sat 9am-10pm; Sun 9am-9:30pm
Facebook: Ocean Delight Dim Sum Restaurant
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

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