Enter The Dragon - Striving for the Pinnacle of Dim Sum Goodness! Dragon Beaux [Thoughts + Pics]


#1

For the final leg of this quad x bang this morning and the last day of our trip, we arrived at probably the second most anticipated restaurant on this trip: Dragon Beaux, from the owners of famed Dim Sum specialist, Koi Palace.

We’ve been salivating at the pictures by @PorkyBelly and with such high marks and great reports, we knew this was serious business. :wink:

Walking into the restaurant, it’s a shocking, weird, wacky clash of modern “hip” Chinese decor? With something else… But it was fun. :slight_smile: I loved the glowing fireballs at every table. :smile:

dragon_003

Looking at the menu, and we knew this was something hardcore and legit: They feature 21 (TWENTY ONE) different types of Loose Leaf Teas to choose for Dim Sum! :open_mouth: I’ve never seen that many before. Some highlights that I’ve never heard of:

  • Pink Rose Tea
  • Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong
  • Original Melody Puer
  • Wuyi Da Hong Pao
  • Golden Eyebrow
  • Eastern Beauty
  • Taiwanese High Mountain Collection
  • Ali Shan
  • Da Yu Ling

And many more!

I can see why @PorkyBelly @ipsedixit @chandavkl @beefnoguy and others recommended this place. (@JeetKuneBao @paranoidgarliclover this is pretty amazing!) :slight_smile:

We ordered the…

Phoenix Oolong Tea:

dragon_030

Based on name alone. :sweat_smile: And it was fantastic! There was an aroma and rounded Tea flavor that I’ve never had before… and definitely not at a Dim Sum restaurant.

I liked the porcelain candle holder, that keeps your tea pot warm throughout the meal (and it was cute). :slight_smile:

Baked BBQ Pork Bao:

I’ve never been to Hong Kong’s famous Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan, whom many people seem to have fallen in love with their ultra-famous BBQ Pork Buns. I’ve seen some pictures and heard people drool over them, but I’ve never tried them.

So when I heard @chandavkl mention that Dragon Beaux had an approximation of the Tim Ho Wan BBQ Pork Buns, I had to try an order. :slight_smile:

Regardless of how “authentic” it is to Tim Ho Wan, these are pretty impressive: They look rather pale, but taking a bite, they are crisped and slightly crunchy on top, giving way to a nicely seasoned mixture of BBQ Pork (Charsiu), not overly sweet, not too salty.

These are some of the best “Baked” type of BBQ Pork Bun (Charsiu Bao) that I’ve ever had! They arrived piping hot as well. :blush: Outstanding!

Classic Shrimp Dumpling (Har Gow):

We were absolutely blown away by the creative / unique / new selections they had on the menu, but for our 1st time, we had to try the classics first, so we started with the Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow).

They looked so tasty…

But sadly they were completely oversteamed! :cry: When we gently tried to pick one up, they were all stuck together. Trying to be more gentle, it was no good, they tore apart and the filling just fell out! :frowning:

Chewing on the Dumpling skin a bit, it was mushy and just overcooked for sure (all 4 were like that). :sob: These were some of the worst Shrimp Dumplings I’ve had in terms of execution. Sea Harbour is better, for sure.

But we hope it’s just a fluke and will be back to try again. :wink:

Roasted Pork Belly:

I’ve been eyeing this ever since seeing @PorkyBelly’s amazing photos of this dish! :grin: Just look at the Roasted Pork Belly!

Taking a bite: Amazing crunchy Pork Skin (better than my favorite Chicharrones!), the perfect amount of fat, with a lot of tender Lean Roasted Pork meat, it all combined together for some of the best Cantonese-style Roasted Pork Belly I’ve had in a long time! Outstanding! :heart:

And the whole thing was super fresh (not leftovers from the previous day). So good! :slight_smile: (And something that seems to be missing from Sea Harbour and Elite these days (for Dim Sum).) I remember many Dim Sum restaurants used to serve Cantonese BBQ Pork slices, Roast Duck, Roast Pork Belly, etc., but I guess it wasn’t popular anymore?

Rainbow Taro Paste Bao:

This just looked stunning, but also we love Taro so much! The Rainbow Taro Paste Bao arrived piping hot, soft, pillowy exterior (a great Bao texture), giving way to fragrant, unmistakable luscious, sweet Taro puree. :blush: So good!

(@bulavinaka @MaladyNelson @TheCookie and other Taro fans, take note.)

I would say, though, that Sea Harbour’s French-Style Baked Taro Bun dessert (thank you @ipsedixit) is even better than this, but it’s also slightly different (not in Steamed Bao form). :slight_smile:

Jumbo Scallop Shiu Mai:

These pics were taken “as is,” with no movement of the dish when it was set down. Presentation issues aside (clearly the kitchen seemed to be in a rush, as the Scallop was knocked off one of the pieces and it looked kind of rushed)…

Just visually, like some of the other dishes, just look at how juicy and luscious it looked!

Taking a bite…

Seriously. Shut the front door! :laughing:

Perfectly cooked, juicy, balanced, tender Marinated Ground Pork (some restaurants nowadays are cheapening out and shoving in large chunks of chewy Pork Fat! :frowning: Not so here), just enough plump Shrimp, and the Scallops! Perfectly cooked, tender and silky.

The whole bite came together to make the BEST Siu Mai I have ever eaten! :heart: This was SO GOOD! :blush:

This was way ahead of Sea Harbour, and Sea Harbour is so far ahead of everyone else in So Cal.

At this point we stared at the menu, wanting so badly to try any of the Fried Rice (that @ipsedixit recommended so strongly for), and at some of the many, many other amazing looking dishes on the menu, but we couldn’t do it! We were so stuffed! :sob:

We foolishly attempted a quad x bang and failed, having been to: Tartine Bakery, then we dashed over to Arsicault Bakery, then we went over to Plow (those amazing Biscuits!), and then here to Dragon Beaux.

We have failed @J_L @PorkyBelly. I don’t know how you handle those awesome bang x bangs; I need to train more. :cry: :smile:

In the end, Dragon Beaux is one of the most exciting, impressive Dim Sum houses we’ve been to in a long time. Its creativity (they have a Rose Rice Crepe, 5 Types of Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings), and a bunch of super creative dishes, in addition to hardcore Teas (21 Types!)), and their amazing execution on the best Baked BBQ Pork Bun I’ve ever had, amazing Roast Pork Belly, and the most luscious, delicious Siu Mai (with Scallops!) I have ever had, it’s pretty much already the best Hong Kong Dim Sum I’ve ever eaten in the U.S., and I can’t wait to return soon! :blush:

Dragon Beaux
5700 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94121
Tel: (415) 333-8899

http://dragonbeaux.com/

Update 1:

After experiencing the best Dim Sum we’ve ever had last time, there was no way we were going to miss out on revisiting Dragon Beaux on this trip. :wink:

Once again, it is nothing short of stunning to see Dragon Beaux offer 21(!) different types of Tea you can choose from for Dim Sum. We decided to try:

Wuyi Da Hong Pao Tea:

dragon_015

dragon_027

This was earthy and fragrant, tasting like a new varietal we had never tried before. Wonderful with the meal. :slight_smile:

Crispy Shrimp Paste Donut Rice Crepe Roll:

We wanted to try some more of the Dim Sum classics on this trip, so we decided on their Crispy Shrimp Paste Donut Rice Crepe Roll. Normally it’s just the Fried Crueller / “Donut” wrapped by Rice Roll exterior and steamed, but Dragon Beaux shows off their finesse once again, with adding in a bit of Shrimp Paste to give it that briny umami flavor.

This was outstanding! :blush: The Rice Roll exterior was slippery, tender, and steamed just right (not over steamed, nor mushy, with a nice texture to it). These are the best Rice Rolls for Dim Sum I’ve ever had! :slight_smile:

Classic Shrimp Dumpling (Har Gow):

On our first visit, this was the one misstep of the meal, when they overcooked the Dumpling Skin. We wanted to give it another try and see if it was better: Perfectly cooked Shrimp Dumpling Skin this time and perfect Shrimp inside. :slight_smile:

Fantastic Har Gow!

Five Guys Xiao Long Bao:

Yes, initially this seems more like a gimmick than anything, but it looked too irresistible not to try! :slight_smile: This proves some of Dragon Beaux’s prowess: Unlike the food-coloring / gimmicky based stuff at a few of LA’s Dim Sum houses, each one of these Xiao Long Bao (XLB)'s actually tasted like the flavor the menu listed them as:

Spinach Skin / Kale Xiao Long Bao actually tasted vegetal in the skin itself, Turmeric XLB tasted like Turmeric (and was an interesting diversion), The Beets XLB actually tasted like a subtle Beet infusion in the Xiao Long Bao skin, and the Squid Ink XLB and Natural Skin XLB were tasty as well. :slight_smile:

They won’t dethrone the best XLB specialists, but for alternate flavor dishes, these were successful.

Crispy Garlic Chicken Knee Cartilage:

These were awesome! A very nice version of Fried Chicken Cartilage, for all of you Nankotsu fans out there (bulavinaka). :slight_smile: The Garlic was fragrant and really elevated this version above the usual Fried Cartilage dishes out there. :slight_smile:

Crab Roe Shiu Mai:

We loved the Scallop version of their classic Shu Mai, so we wanted to see how the Crab Roe version fared. This was OK, the only misstep of the entire meal. They weren’t as tender, fluffy and nice as the Scallop version, it might’ve been an off day?

3rd Visit:

We loved Dragon Beaux so much, we decided to come back again on the same trip to try more items! :blush:

Eastern Beauty Tea:

dragon_028

Another interesting Tea we had never tried before. This was really enjoyable as well, less earthy and lighter than the Wuyi Da Hong Pao Tea on the last visit.

XO Spinach Dumplings:

And then you get innovation like this: Dragon Beaux decided to do a Spinach-infused Dumpling Skin (which tasted really nice), with Shrimp and their Housemade XO Sauce! :open_mouth: The result was just this intense, wonderfully briny (in a good way) burst of Dried Scallops, Dried Shrimp in a lightly spicy sauce (their XO), and the Fresh Shrimp was perfectly cooked and tender. Fantastic! :slight_smile:

Pan Seared Daikon Cake:

A Dim Sum classic, Dragon Beaux’s version hits it out of the park. Nice caramelization from the sear, nice tender interior, with not a lot of filler (like many Dim Sum houses these days).

Fish Chip Rose Red Rice Crepe Roll:

First off, yes, this looks shockingly Red-Pink, and seems like a “fusion” dish of some sort. But once again, Dragon Beaux proves the initial fears wrong: They use a Red Rice Grain for the Rice Roll wrapper, and it’s perfectly steamed once again, silky, tender, and it gives way to Fried Fish on the inside! :open_mouth:

So it’s like the Crispy Crueller Rice Roll (traditional) but elevated and different once again. This was one of our friend’s favorite dish of the meal. :blush:

Gold and Silver Egg Fried Rice:

After @ipsedixit waxed poetic about their Fried Rice, we knew this was a must order.

Taking a bite…

COME ON! Seriously?! Perfect Wok Hei, gorgeous wok skills to yield THE best Fried Rice I’ve ever had (not joking)! :heart:

It’s got that great Wok Hei that you want in a Fried Rice (that my SGV friends taught me about years ago :wink: ), it’s not oily tasting, and just delivers this light, savory, mouthful of awesome! JeetKuneBao Ns1 @chandavkl secretasianman and all Fried Rice lovers out there, do not miss this! :blush:

There’s also a BOSS Abalone Fried Rice on the menu, but I think that’s only reserved for ballers like J_L @ipsedixit @PorkyBelly Porthos. :wink: Please let me know how it is!

Roasted Pork Belly:

Crunchy, crispy skin - like the best Roasted Pork - with tender, fresh-tasting, lean Pork meat beneath it. SO GOOD! :heart: Thank you again @PorkyBelly. :slight_smile:

This is better than most Cantonese / Hong Kong Roaster restaurants.

Roasted Duck:

Sadly their Roasted Duck was nowhere near as good as the Roasted Pork Belly. It was fine, but lacked the crisped Duck Skin on the outside, being a bit soggy. But it tasted very fresh.

Wild Mushroom & Chicken Bao:

Now we know where the imposter Xiang Yuan Dim Sum restaurant in the SGV got the idea from: Dragon Beaux delivers the OG version, with a Steamed Bun (Bao) made to look like a Mushroom. :open_mouth: :slight_smile: Unlike Xiang Yuan’s version this one is fluffy and yields a real, homemade taste, with actual Marinated Chicken and Sauteed Mushrooms inside. Tasty. :slight_smile:

Jumbo Scallop Shiu Mai:

And to finish things off, the Jumbo Scallop Shiu Mai from our first visit: If you ever want to look for what a paradigm shifting taste of Siu Mai might be like, give Dragon Beaux’s Scallop Shiu Mai a try. Perfect marinated Ground Pork & Shrimp balance, just cooked through, the outer skin is tender and still holds it together. The Jumbo Scallop? Wonderful, fresh, silky, awesome! :heart:

After 3 visits, I still think about going back to Dragon Beaux, and can only say that it is the best Dim Sum I’ve ever had in the U.S. On some levels, it might seem like a standard Hong Kong / Cantonese Dim Sum House, but from the moment you open the menu, to ordering from 21 different types of legit Chinese Teas, to the flawless perfection of their Jumbo Scallop Shiu Mai, to the Rice Crepe Rolls, to the crispy, mouth-watering Roast Pork Belly, to the creative, new creations (Spinach & XO Dumpling! Red Rose (Rice) Crepe Roll with Fried Fish, and of course to the stunning Fried Rice that ipsedixit loves so much, there is nothing like Dragon Beaux and it remains one of great bastions for culinary excellence for Dim Sum. I am forever indebted to @PorkyBelly & @beefnoguy for the recommendation! Thank you! :blush:

Dragon Beaux
5700 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94121
Tel: (415) 333-8899

http://dragonbeaux.com/


Reporting Back: Our Trip to San Francisco - Great Breakfasts, Lunch and Dinners :)
Dim sum (late 2017): Best overall
September 2017 Weekend Rundown
Dim Sum recs in SF?
Dim Sum & Hong Kong Seafood Specialist - Sea Harbour
Solid, New Dim Sum Specialist Arrives - Xiang Yuan Gourmet [Thoughts + Pics]
#2

Do they do takeout? I’m going to be in SF next month but with 11 dogs…


#3

God, that stuff sounds like it puts LA dim sum to shame! BTW, I really like taro, too. :wink:


#4

Hi @Ns1,

Wow! 11 dogs?! Will you be taking them everywhere with you? :smile: :open_mouth:


#5

The best roast pork dishes I’ve had have been at Koi. Your experience here confirms that these folks know their pig. Like you, I was impressed with all aspects. And what really leaps out is how fresh and clean the pork tastes.


#6

You had me at glowing fireballs…

This was a wonderful review. This place has been recommend to me several times, but now I’m convinced. Next trip north, Dragon Beaux.


#7

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Yah, I love L.A., but being honest, Dragon Beaux (sans the Shrimp Dumpling) is just another tier up from L.A.'s best. It makes me depressed when I think about eating Dim Sum in L.A. now. :cry: :sweat_smile:


#8

Hi @bulavinaka,

Nice! :slight_smile: Definitely give Dragon Beaux a try the next time you’re in the area.


#9

But it reads like LA has a depth and breadth that SF will likely never have.


#10

Hi @catholiver,

Depth and breadth in terms of cuisines, perhaps. But for Dim Sum? I think Dragon Beaux has Quality, Depth and Breadth all in one place(!). :open_mouth:

Their menu is extensive, they have all the classics and they innovate on new items. I still need to try more dishes, but based on our visit and @PorkyBelly’s great reports, I think they are clearly tops.

But beyond that, I don’t really need more Dim Sum houses that are average or worse (for “Breadth” in that way). If one place can do it all, and do it very well (or even be the clear cut best), that’s all we can ask for. :slight_smile: Well, and that it’s right in our neighborhood. :wink:

After La Ciccia, consider stopping by Dragon Beaux and trying that as well on your next visit. :slight_smile:


#11

In general LA is ahead of SF in depth and breadth. However for dim sum, I’m leaning to the similar, but unrelated Hong Kong Lounge I and Hong Kong Lounge II, as also beating any LA dim sum.


#12

Yeah, I’m talking about pure #s not quality.

That pork belly looks amazing. Is that an ‘inauthentic’ addition to dim sum? I wouldn’t complain but have never seen it. I’ve also avoided XLB in dim restaurants as it’s Taiwanese but it seems like more and more dim sum places have added it. Maybe cause it’s gotten so trendy.


#13

I bought a big ol’ Ford extended van for this exact purpose - rolling around with 11 dogs, buying takeout.

So…did you see any takeout? lol. Although I’m not sure that scallop shu mai would be great as takeout; regardless, I must have that in my life.


#14

Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux’s execution of the standard har gow can be inconsistent, I don’t think I’ve had a visit where the skins did not puncture while being picked up, but other times at least the insides were not oversteamed and still had some liquid inside.

The mushroom buns are fun, where the steamed bun exterior mirrors the pattern of a shitake. The XLBs are gimmicky (though fun to try once) as is the abalone puff which is otherwise instagrammable food.

At night time, DB does Cantonese style hot pot (da bin lo) and is probably the most upscale and modern take. Expats may complain that it is expensive, but it is really good quality (Cantonese winter melon broth base is quite excellent). It’s like eating yakiniku, you pretty much pay per plate and it adds up. But it’s quite an exquisite experience, especially for the Real Housewives of Chinese expats. Plus you can’t really find da bin lo elsewhere, but you do have a gazillion mini regional Chinese/Taiwanese hot pot restaurants doing Sichuan/Korean style/Miso/Thai/Dongbei styles under one roof.

DB/Koi Palace does have a killer XO sauce though.


#15

Sorry to hear about the unfortunate har gow. Both times I’ve been their har gow has beaten any example I’ve had in LA by a mile - though of course that pork belly dish is tops.


#16

Hi @Ns1,

I just called Dragon Beaux for you: Yes! They do Takeout for Dim Sum. :slight_smile: Yay. I hope you enjoy your visit and make sure you eat it as soon as possible (don’t let it steam too long in the To-Go containers). :slight_smile:


#17

You are a gentleman and a scholar.


#18

I’m picturing you pulled over on a steep SF street, attempting to devour the dim sum whilst fending off 11 inquisitive, ravenous pups.

If this happens, I’d really appreciate video!


#19

No need to fend.

although it would probably look something like this:


#20

Thanks @Bookwich. :slight_smile: I’m looking forward to your review and hope you enjoy your visit. :slight_smile: