I’ve updated the original post to reflect changes since May 2021: lots of closures and nearly 100 new restaurants.
As a lame and inaccurate placeholder, I dumped a bunch of regionally diverse and/or chef-driven dumpling/bao/noodle focussed restaurants into the “Other Northern and Jiaozi /dumplings or bing” category. These include places anchored by XLB and SJB but which have no other Shanghainese signatures; and chains like Dumpling Time, the 4 Sisters group, etc.
Geez, this project will soon enter its tenth year… and its age shows, both conceptually and technologically. Chowhound, where the project originated, is kaput and there hundreds of dead Chowhound links in the original post. I’ll either point them to backed up pages on the Internet Archive, or delete them… I’d like to preserve/credit community members who helped inform this list, but I’m not sure how useful 8+ year old restaurant advice is.
Duobao BBQ & Dumplings (Newark) opens in the former King of Dumplings space, retaining the latter’s jiaozi and cold dishes, and adding Cantonese BBQ and assorted other things. Are the owners or chefs the same?
A few closures to report:
Lulu’s Kitchen has closed the Concord location of their Sichuan restaurant, the Dublin location remains the same
Din Ding’s Dumpling House’s Fremont location is closed until April
Jyun Kang Vegetarian Restaurant, the vegetarian restaurant in Ukiah’s City of 10,000 Buddhas is still dormant because of the pandemic.
Tsing Tao (Campbell) has closed, and the Korean Chinese restaurant is slated to re-open in Los Gatos in March
Momo Chang just posted an updated Guide to Chinsee Regional Restaurants in the Bay Aea at SF Eater. Momo and our own Hyperbowler with others worked on the award-winning series five yeears ago at the SF Chronicle, Many Chinas, Many Tables.
I stopped by a place in the Sunset, on Noriga, called SoHoMei. They used to be called Pho Sure, but instead of selling pho, they mostly sold Chaozhou (Teochew) cuisine, and I think they recently rebranded their name to match what they were actually selling.
Their Chaoshan beef balls were some of the bounciest beef balls I’ve ever had, and their Chaozhou pan fried oyster cake and Shantou rice rolls were also dishes that were very unique to that region of China that I’ve never seen anywhere else in the Bay Area. Overall they were excellent.
Impression of Lanzhou opened in the former location of Lulu’s Kitchen, in Concord. Focus on Lanzhou lamian. Photos look good, and menu has many Gansu/Xian/Shaanxi specialties. Looking forward to try this weekend.
Lots of action in past two months. More openings than closures. Closures included Five Happiness and three places that had been included in the pre-pandemic SF Chronicle Many Chinas Many Tables project (about 1/3 of that list went out of business since pandemic began).
Five Happiness (SF Inner Richmond), Taiwanese. Not reported by media AFAIK, but confirmed by lots of Yelpers. Sad to see the closure of this decades old institution known for weekend Taiwanese breakfast, knife-shaved noodles, and various Shanghainese & Taiwanese foods.
Pot and Noodle (SF Chinatown) on Monday appeared to be rebranded with a dumpling focus. Chef Yiwen “Truman” Du’s photo was still in the window, so I may have misunderstood something.
I’ve seen from a few different sources that they closed, but no indication of the motivation or it being temporary.
Re: Five Grains, I’ve since learned from Instagram that it’s an international chain originating in Changsha, Hunan province. Looks like they supposedly have 4,500 locations, including mainland China, Philippines, and Malaysia.
Dumpling Story a Pac Heights / Fillmore edition of Dumpling Home opened. Their uncommon, non-pork, variants of sheng jian bao (chicken, vegetable, beef) have been at the Hayes Valley Dumpling Home for a while.
Rong’s in Outer Richmond. The chef/restaurant were formerly Jiangnan Cuisine. Any idea where they are now or if there’s comparable Wuxi style braised dishes elsewhere?
WeHouse (Milpitas), Taiwanese bentos
The Davis location of Chengdu Style closed. If anything, I found their cooking elevated during the pandemic, and I’m sad to lose one of my favorite stops en route to Sac. They still have a Berkeley location.
Hanson’s Pastry now has a Newark location, where you can get frozen dumplings, takeout Jian bing, buns, etc.
Jinweide Hand Pulled Beef Noodles (Millbrae), an international chain serving Lanzhou style noodle, founded in 1919 apparently. They have an 8am breakfast menu, which makes them one of the rare non-Cantonese or Hong Kong Chinese places open so early
Here are a bunch of restaurants that are new to this list, some from 2022 that got past my radar until just now, others like Mrs. Khan’s and Dumpling Club that I mistakenly thought were here already. Lots of exciting places.
Why did some get missed? I identify most new openings on Yelp by searching for “Chinese” and “hot and new.” Not a very good strategy for 2023, when 50% of non-Cantonese Chinese openings are BBQ/skewer/dumpling/noodle/hotpot or malatang and may not be listed under the generic “Chinese” category.
Warming Rice Noodle (Milpitas) Harbin-based international chain, Wumingyuan Mi Fen (无名缘米粉) opens what may be their first US location
Dumpling Club (SF Mission) opened a few years back, selling frozen and hot dumplings, and has started doing weekend breakfast. Inventive and has some vegan options, note their limited hours.
Gaos Kabob and Crab (Milpitas) shaokao & cajun-style seafood chain with locations in Houston, Queens, and Chicago
MLBB (Milpitas) mainland based hotpot chain opened in 2022. Has a location in Queens.
Special Noodle (Fremont), part of the The Four Sisters Group (四姐) known for their Hunan dishes, sheng jian bao, etc. took over the Always Cool BBQ space. Always Cool BBQ opened in 2022, and reportedly next door. I believe both restaurants shares space with the karaoke lounge.
Tasty Place (Millbrae) since April they’ve steered away from the owners Northeastern roots, and more towards Sichuan cuisine, which they already did surprisingly well. Inside, there’s a photo of a new chef with a medal around his neck, which put him in company with two other chefs along Millbrae’s El Camino Real (Chef Liu at Royal Feast, and Chef Hu Wen Jun at Yummy Szechuan). Any recent experience there? (they sadly pared down the dumpling menu. They still have one variety of fish dumpling, which seemed slightly larger and folded differently than in the past… my guests ate them all before I got to try one…)
The original post should be up to date. But now for some fun facts about chains:
As of 2023, about 10% of restaurants on this list are international chains. Hotpot chains, regionally focused or not, continue to be a major theme. More recent additions specialize in foods of Beijing, Chongqing, Dongbei, Guilin, Hunan, Sichuan, Wuhan, or Yunnan. There are also Taiwanese and Korean chains.
We’re also now getting some US-based chains that started from outside California, like Dumpling Zone (Seattle), DH Noodles (NY) and Friendship BBQ (NY).
Noodle, dumpling/bao (jiaozi, XLB, SJB), and hotpot are the focus of many local-chains. The 4 Sisters group, OX 9 Lanzhou Hand Pulled noodles, and Dumpling Kitchen are among those with stronger regional themes.
A bunch of new openings, and some that missed my radar in 2022.
Beijing Chef (Newark) sprouts from the Pleasanton sister restaurant. The original location had some Tan Family Cuisine dishes at some point, not sure about currently.
CD BBQ 成都烧烤 (Milpitas) shaokao, some braised cold dishes, Yibin kindling noodles. The name, Chengdu-style shao-kao, suggests that the skewers may be deep fried rather than grilled (that was the case with defunct Rolling Snack, which Luke Tsai wrote about. However, the owner on yelp said they’re grilled. In any case, the restaurant’s symbol refers to Bel Cool Tasty Pot 倍儿爽麻辣香锅 (Cupertino) which serves among other things Sichuan hot pot & Roasted fish
DH Noodles (Milpitas) opens in the old Nutrition House space. Servering Northwestern food, notably Lanzhou style beef noodle soup, it the Bay Area’s first location of the NY-started chain, which also has LA locations in SGV and now Westwood.
Dou Noodle (Oakland) Sichuan pop-up, not sure if still operational