Despite my gutsy comment in the San Francisco Chronicle that San Francisco Chinese food is five years behind that in Los Angeles, I really enjoy going to the Bay Area to eat at their Chinese restaurants. Indeed the unattributed statement made in the same article that Bay Area dim sum was better than Los Angeles was a thought I had passed on to the article's author, Clarissa Wei. In tandem, the Bay Area's top dim sum restaurants of Dragon Beaux, Koi Palace, Hong Kong Lounge, Hong Kong Lounge 2 and Lai Hong Lounge top L.A.'s best of Longo Seafood, Sea Harbour, Lunasia, King Hua, Elite, Happy Harbour and China Red, though you can't go wrong at any of these dim sum emporiums. However, in this week's Bay Area trip I wanted to return to Dragon Beaux to see if this was possibly the best of the bunch.
The thought that Dragon Beaux might be the best dim sum restaurant in the country entered my mind when I had their version of the Tim Ho Wan style baked bbq pork bun. While not as good as the original Tim Ho Wan version, it's better than what the New York branch of Tim Ho Wan serves, and better than the few versions of the dish available in the Los Angeles area.
The first new dish we had was a baked purple yam bun. Perhaps I was extra intrigued by this item since it looked like chocolate, but I haven't been able to eat chocolate in 50 years due to allergies. While this probably looks better than it tastes, I thought it was very good, quite interesting and not too sweet.
The pork belly with crispy skin was another winner. The skin was a little bit short of what we had in Alameda at Pacific Lighthouse, but the skin there was part of an appetizer plate and did not have pork belly meat attached.
Another interesting and delicious bun was the baked curry chicken charcoal bun. Both visually and culinarily interesting with a kick beyond the curry.
The only loser was this salmon salad pastry. Pastry was dry, as was the salmon filling. I'm really shocked that there was something this bad on the menu.
Something that seems to have disappeared off of dim sum menus in the past decade or two is beef siu mai--perhaps chicken siu mai has become the alternative siu mai of choice these days. This spinach skin beef siu mai was excellent.
Another highly visual offering is the squid ink dumpling, filled with peanuts and spicy pork. Once again it looks better than it tastes, but again not to say it wasn't good.
One last must try at Dragon Beaux is the red rice fish cheung fun. They may have been the first restaurant to serve this item, but it has certainly spread elsewheres in the past couple of years.
Dragon Beaux is leading the pack for innovative dim sum in the US these days and most of their offerings are winner. They also have premium items such as abalone with flat noodles which sound very intriguing. Dragon Beaux is clearly among the best, if not the very best dim sum in America at the moment.