Vegan dim sum at Imperial Garden Seafood (SF Portola)

Eater reports that Menny Ly/@sassymint on Instagram is serving dine-in/take-out vegan dim sum items at Imperial Garden Seafood on San Bruno Ave. Current items include:

  • steamed bbq pork buns
  • har gow shrim’ dumpling
  • pan fried XO sauce noodle
  • truffle mushroom rice roll
  • chiu chow dumpling
  • siu mai dumpling
  • baked mochi bun (limited qty)

Sounds exciting. Anyone have previous experience with Ly’s cooking?

I’ll add a nod to the non-vegan items at Imperial Garden based on a visit a few weeks back. Soy sauce duck wings (generously portioned), black bean pork ribs, and salt & pepper sardines were all excellent. You tiao was perfect and stayed crunchy in the congee.


I went a few weeks ago and had a very enjoyable experience. Dim sum is a hard sell to my mostly-vegan spouse, so this was a treat and a long-awaited opportunity.

The stand out for me was the chiu chow dumpling, which held together beautifully and had an edge on any meat-based one of recent memory.

The pan fried XO sauce noodle, the baked mochi bun, and the mushroom coriander rice noodle rolls were great too. The latter was especially a hit with our vegetarian friend who’d never had a cheung fun before.

Steamed bbq pork buns were an admirable analogue of meat ones; the omnivores and vegetarians at the table weren’t excited by the har gow shrim’ and siu mai dumplings.

I’ll take some more pics next time we go— I understand they’ve since tested some new items.

Oh, and an unexpected find— the (non-vegan) red rice crispy shrimp rolls were on par with the one that has since been dropped from Dragon Beaux’s menu. As if doughnut filled cheung fun weren’t stellar enough, what’s not to love about the crispier, more compact, and more flavorful cousin?

Service was attentive and never mixed up the vegan and actually meat dishes. They had a decent amount of stuff on carts, more so than I’d seen on my previous visit.

Parking can be tough around there, but on a Saturday, we arrived at 10:20am, early enough to park in the small adjacent parking.


Went earlier today with p2 & friend. Waited ~5 mins to be seated. Huge tables. Good food, much as enjoyable as a lot of non-vegan dim sum I’ve had.


  • stir fried rice noodle rolls with vegan xo sauce: not as deeply flavored and much more onion-y than xo sauce, but delicious and some wok hei.
  • chiu chow dumplings: big fat monsters of dumplings with a nice and texturally interesting filling, with roasted peanuts, jicama, celery, and other things.
  • vegetarian bean curd roll (standard menu): thin lightly but noticeably smoked tofu skin wrapped around a sweet and savory shiitake filling. The smoke was great, just the right amount.
  • rice noodle rolls (youtiao/donut stick, cilantro-in-batter, filled with diced oyster mushroom): all good, nice chewy-bouncy texture, decent sauce. Youtiao was okay, a little oily but still had some crunch, cilantro was great, oyster mushroom needed more seasoning but had a good texture.
  • pea shoots stir fried with garlic: well executed, very good.


  • friend and I were at odds about the char siu bao/steamed bbq vegan pork buns. We agreed that the flavor of the sauce was good, but I felt the meat substitute took away from the experience.
  • sticky rice steamed in lotus leaf: they got the richness really well but I found the filling/other ingredients a little boring.


They’re opening a vegan restaurant next door according to the owner. It should open in September or October.


@hyperbowler @jiaozi I used to visit SF 1-2x/year to crash with friends back in the day, these would have been dream meals for me. Thanks for the vicarious experiences.

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