America's Best Dim Sum
Dim sum calls for dumplings, and about 55,000 are sold annually at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. But not classics like shrimp-filled har gow. Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski prefer their dumplings with guinea hen. “Dim sum service offers a slew of freedoms with our cooking,” explains Brioza, whose menu includes steak tartare in lettuce cups.
In Atlanta, Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie and his team also take liberties with dim sum, creating kung pao Brussels sprouts and other new dishes each week at Gunshow, influenced by both dim sum and Brazilian churrascaria traditions.
These restaurants, along with The Church Key in L.A., are invigorating the dim sum scene—which has no shortage of authentic restaurants, particularly in immigrant enclaves like New York City’s Flushing neighborhood and California’s San Gabriel Valley. Sea Harbour, east of L.A., employs an all-Cantonese staff that turns out steamed radish cake garnished with dried shrimp and baked barbecue pork buns.
The pleasure of a dim sum meal also comes from the showmanship and ordering experience. At Seattle’s New Hong Kong, for example, carts glide past diners and attendants raise the lids off steamer baskets, bellowing out what’s inside, whether sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves or garlicky spareribs. It’s all washed down with generous cups of fragrant tea.
Read on for more of America’s best dim sum destinations, and share your favorites in the comments below.
Yank Sing, San Francisco
For nearly 60 years, this family-owned, lunch-only restaurant has been satisfying local cravings for dim sum. Handmade dumplings, barbecued pork buns, and pork dumplings with shrimp and shiitake mushrooms take center stage. On weekends, the restaurant literally doubles in size thanks to the connecting Rincon Atrium. Don’t miss its signature Shanghai dumplings, with minced Kurobuta pork (an elite Japanese protein), scallion, and ginger steamed in its own aromatic broth.
Red Egg, New York City
Dim sum is what’s for dinner at Red Egg, located at the intersection of Chinatown and SoHo. It’s a modern restaurant where small plates are made to order. Translucent dumplings brimming with sweet shrimp, steamed rice rolls, and coconut pudding are a few menu staples. Despite the top-notch ingredients and trendy setting, prices remain affordable, especially during weeknights between 4 and 7 p.m., when all dim sum plates are half off. redeggnyc.com
The Church Key, Los Angeles
L.A.’s new kid on the block updates age-old dim sum traditions. An arsenal of pushcarts dishes out globally inspired small plates. (In a kitschy twist, one cart is stocked with canned Negroni cocktails and piloted by waitresses in Pan Am uniforms.) All meals begin with a complimentary bowl of truffle popcorn. Then yours might diverge to tai snapper in a white-soy vinaigrette or pig-ear Cheetos with avocado mousse. One cart comes equipped with a meat slicer, shaving off slivers of Benton’s ham so that diners can DIY a ham sandwich with fig mostarda and sourdough bread. thechurchkeyla.com
This debut U.S. location of London’s Michelin-starred Hakkasan has become one of Miami Beach’s sexiest restaurants, winning over patrons with its haute-Cantonese food and sleek décor (it’s within the chic Fontainebleau Resort). Malaysia native Jian Heng Loo runs the kitchen, which turns out dim sum for weekend lunch. Try the steamed chive prawn dumplings, crispy duck salad, and decadent scallop shu mai. hakkasan.com
JS Chen's Dim Sum & BBQ, Plano, TX
Multigenerational Chinese families and in-the-know locals flock to this unassuming restaurant within an Asian shopping mall. They’re here for the dim sum, whether shrimp dumplings, steamed pork buns, or the explosive Shanghai-style pork dumplings. Trust us when we say the “beef fun roll” is aptly named—paper-thin noodles are expertly rolled around BBQ beef (it is Texas, after all) and mushrooms. BYO drink of choice, and finish off your meal with sweet and crispy sesame balls or mango pudding. jschensbbq.com
Ping Pang Pong, Las Vegas
Red lanterns and decorative gates welcome diners to Ping Pang Pong, a mile off the Strip within the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino. Its regional specialties include authentic Cantonese dim sum served on pushcarts at lunchtime—allowing diners to see and smell each dish before ordering. Keep an eye out for the cart with the night market fried rice, a satisfying mix of tender beef tossed with chiles, bean sprouts, and tomatoes.
Ming’s Bistro, Orlando, FL
Taro dumplings and shrimp pesto buns lure crowds to Ming’s, where the menu has its roots in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. The bistro is also known for its fried shrimp balls and chicken feet. While cart service is available only on the weekends, when you can always expect a lengthy wait, the dim sum menu is available daily. 1212 Woodward St. #6; (407) 898-9672.
State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, pioneers of American-style dim sum, have dreamed up an eclectic menu featuring guinea hen dumplings; pecan pancakes with duck ham and maitake; and garlic bread with burrata and peanut milk shots. The intimate yet high-energy restaurant sells nearly 13,000 of its eponymous quail annually, along with some 55,000 dumplings. statebirdsf.com
At this dim-sum-meets-Brazilian-churrascaria restaurant, a team led by Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie creates new dishes each week, wheeling them out from the open kitchen on pushcarts and trays to diners, as they personally explain their works of art. We recommend starting with two plates of the kung pao Brussels sprouts. Save room for Gunshow’s inspired take on the classic French dish of coq au vin, made here with truffle mousse and a butternut squash pancake. gunshowatl.com
Winsor Dim Sum Café, Boston
This second-floor café offers a checklist of made-to-order dishes such as pillowy-yet-crunchy pork and peanut dumplings, sweet deep-fried pork buns, and chewy noodles fried with sausage and laced with sharp radish. Be forewarned: although the café is open all day long, there’s almost always a wait. Its hot-broth xiao long bao dumplings are really that delicious. winsordimsumcafe.com
Sea Harbour Restaurant, Rosemead, CA
At this acclaimed dim sum destination east of L.A., the picture menu lessens any language barrier between diners and the all-Cantonese staff, who are quick to refill cups of fragrant tea. Look for steamed radish cake garnished with dried shrimp; baked barbecue pork buns; classic har gow (translucent shrimp dumplings); shu mai (a pork-and-mushroom dumpling with an extra-thin wrapper) topped with roe; and dishes like whole pigeon and chicken feet.
New Hong Kong, Seattle
Eating at this second-floor restaurant is like watching a show: stainless-steel carts glide past eager diners as dumpling escorts raise the lids off steamer baskets, bellowing out dishes (categorized by size) like shrimp balls, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, and garlicky spareribs. The custardy egg tart and soft tofu with shrimp will make you want to be a regular. The dim sum menu is, in fact, available daily, and there’s no shortage of free parking. thehkrestaurants.com
Jade Asian, New York City
Massive by New York standards, this Queens restaurant resembles a banquet hall, with its chairs and circular tables decked out in formal linens. But don’t wait for a special occasion to sample its rice noodle-wrapped crullers, shrimp chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll), and other quality dim sum. Semi-translucent wrappers reveal sweet shrimp and snow pea leaf within the dumplings. Finish with the steamed Malay sponge cake—at once sweet, eggy, and stimulating. jadeasianrestaurant.com
Arco Seafood Restaurant, Houston
Arco makes its dim sum daily, a huge bonus for har gow (shrimp dumpling) enthusiasts and chicken feet lovers too. Although you won’t find pushcarts, a laminated menu with photos helps diners place their orders. We recommend the pan-fried turnip cakes, addicting pork spareribs in black bean sauce, and extra-crispy shrimp balls. 9896 Bellaire Blvd.; (713) 774-2888.
Koi Palace, Daly City, CA
A koi pond and tanks swarming with crab and rock cod point to Koi Palace’s emphasis on seafood. The 450-seat restaurant offers a dim sum menu that will please adventurous diners (note the jellyfish and abalone) as well as purists looking to tuck into standards like Shanghai crab dumplings and sugared egg puffs. koipalace.com