During our trip in the Bay Area to check our wedding venue in Napa, we ended up with a couple of dim sum places in San Francisco as my wife Jun had this sudden craving for dim sum. On the first day in SF, we checked out Yank Sing nearby the hotel we were staying at but weren’t hungry enough to order as many dim sum dishes as we could get for a proper KenScale review (overall, pretty solid though). On the third day of our trip, Jun said she wanted to check out another place and we got a recommendation from a friend to check out Lai Hong Lounge. When we got there at around noon, the line was already huge and we were quoted over an hour-long wait. We initially debated whether we should check another place but decided to just wait despite the chilly San Francisco weather. Our friend who recommended the place eventually joined us too so we were able to sample more variety of dishes and the dim sum brunch turned out to be a pretty satisfying meal.
Unlike the system where servers bring around dim sum carts, you can just mark on the menu which and how many plates you would like to get. Jun and I were giddy with the generous portion of shrimp dumpling, with the warm crunchy shrimp inside that was very satisfying to our palate. I wouldn’t say steamed pork soup dumpling was the best I’ve ever had, but it was definitely above-average too. Our friend ordered a gigantic sliced fish porridge that I was a bit wary of trying at first, but the warm porridge turned out to be a perfect antidote to the chilly weather we had to withstand. Pork siu mai was also quite delicious.
The best dish for me personally was the sticky rice in lotus leaf. I don’t usually get this dish since the level of stickiness can get to an unmanageable level, but in this case the texture of the sticky rice was outstanding and worked so beautifully with the pork filling inside the lotus leaf. Combine all of these delicious dishes with a side of garlic pea sprout that displayed very nice balance of flavor, and you would easily conclude that the hour-long wait was actually worthwhile.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and unfortunately doesn’t text you once your table is ready. In other words, if they call out your name and you’re not there, your table will be gone! The best path forward seems to be try to get there as early as possible or, if you’re quoted hour-long waits, just put your name down and hang out nearby the area for a bit before heading back to the queue. Lai Hong looks like a typical Chinese dim sum restaurant (definitely more authentic than Yank Sing) where you may face some language barriers but overall the service was relatively efficient. It is definitely a place Jun and I wouldn’t mind visiting again on our next visit to SF.
- Creativity: 7.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 1416 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
Telephone: (415) 397-2290