San Francisco (i.e. S.F., The City by the Bay, The City, Fog City – but not San Fran as local friends have educated me on), has some of the most delicious and diverse food in the United States.
Fun Fact: According to the last census bureau available, San Francisco has the most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S.
Our favorite thing about being a food in San Francisco is the diversity, quirkiness and commitment to standing out from the crowd. Your options aren’t limited to cookie cutter chain restaurants you can find on any block. If you want to have a simple home-style cooked meal at a hole-in-the-wall or if you want to dine like royalty, you certainly have limitless options to chose from.
Tip: Anytime you’re planning to go on a trip, make a list/bookmark which restaurants you want to visit. If you’re planning to go to a few on the same day, try to group the ones that are close together or in the same vicinity so you don’t waste time traveling back and forth to different locations. Also be mindful of days open, hours, attire, if reservations are available, etc. so you come well prepared to have the best experience as possible.
To satisfy our asian cuisine cravings, we went to Dumpling Time in the Design District. Ironically, it was right across of a Thai massage place I had taken Lisa to a couple of years ago. This isn’t your typical dumpling restaurant like Din Tai Fung in L.A., but a more of a modern interpretation. Dumpling Time can get very crowded, so make sure to go when they first open or during an odd hour if you don’t want to wait.
We got to the restaurant when they opened and we were seated right away. We ordered the Tom Yum Goong Xiao Long Bao (6pcs/$9.50), Pork Bao (3pcs/$6) and Seafood Gyoza (5pcs/$10). This was the perfect amount of food for the both of us.
The Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao is one of their most popular dishes. It’s a soup dumpling with pork belly, shrimp and coconut milk, wrapped in “beet skin.” I know what you’re thinking…beet skin?!? I was shocked as well, but I think the beet skin would be Dwight Schrute approved. The beets give the dumplings a vibrant red color. The dumplings were delicious with the mix of pork and shrimp and the beet skin was not overwhelming at all. They’re not quite as juicy as the dumplings you will find at Din Tai Fung, but we would certainly order them again. Make sure you try it with the vinegar sauce included!
There are two varieties of Pork Baos you can order, steamed or seared. We went with the seared option because we wanted to try something different than your typical steamed bao. The bao was light and fluffy on top with a crispy bottom. The pork was savory and delicious. Not the best bao we’ve ever had, but we’d give it a solid 4/5 stars.
We saved the best for last. Our Seafood Gyoza was the last dish to come out and I would have waited another hour if need be. The Seafood Gyoza has crab, scallop, shrimp with spiced chili butter, wrapped in a spinach skin. Again, something we would normally be slightly hesitant to order. After eating some of the best gyoza in our lives in Japan, this was an immensely pleasant surprise. The seafood was juicy and cooked to perfection, but the skin was the star of the show. The spinach skin provided the gyoza with an exotic green appearance and was lightly fried without giving you the grease fingers. If we could only order one item, we’d order this again in a heartbeat.
Dumpling Time will certainly be on our list of recommendations to friends and family visiting San Francisco. We’ll be returning on our next trip back to the bay to try the rest of the menu. Stick around for pt. 2 and let us know your S.F. food recommendations!