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Dim Sum in San Francisco

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Chinese Food in the USA

Fall Volume: 2009 Issue: 16(3) page(s): 29 and 30

In the San Francisco Bay area, some twenty percent of the population is Chinese. Many live and work downtown, or in Richmond, Oakland, Emeryville, or beyond. Like Chinese everywhere, they love to eat foods of their heritage, do so often, and they enjoy morning meals known by three different names: Yum cha, dim sum, or 'tea lunch.'

We queried many non-Chinese on the streets of this Bay city in their bus and train stations and in a couple of parking lots. We wondered if they know of this original southern Chinese eating protocol. Our less than proper survey brought interesting responses to the query: Have you heard of dim sum or yum cha; Do you know what a Chinese tea lunch is; and, do you know a restaurant called Yank Sing? The latter is our favorite dim sum place in this city.

We followed up with: Where is your favorite restaurant, and offered several response choices in Chinatown and elsewhere. To the first query the reply most often given was: What name(s) was that? To the second, they all said: Chinatown. And not a one had heard of Yank Sing.

When the same questions were put to Chinese folk, which we did later the same day, they all knew about dim sum. When asked if they had heard of Yank Sing, amazingly, half had not. And, as to that middle question, when they learned what it was, all but one wanted to eat theirs in Chinatown.

Did they not understand our Chinese words? Was it our New York Accent? When we showed them a copy of the Flavor and Fortune touting this eatery, everyone had a huge smile. Maybe it was because they wanted a copy of the magazine. Instead, we handed out cards that gave its website and snail mail address. To date, only three persons of the more than twenty-five we spoke to in each group have contacted us.

Some of the Chinese responders asked if we knew about Harbor Village, the Hong Kong Flower Lounge near the airport, or Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Emeryville (which is reviewed and listed in this issue)? We were amazed at the out-of-downtown places they spoke about. One lad of about twenty who did not look Chinese, told us he was an ABC (American-born-Chinese), his Mom was Chinese and his father Greek. He told us he liked Harbour Village. When I told him it was no more, he was shocked. We were shocked that he recalled a place from his younger years.

One person we query is Chinese, and born in Korea. Read about my adventure with that chap in the restaurant review section. He took us to the Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant for a great dim sum experience.

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