When I spotted the imminent opening of Dim Sum Bar on O'Farrell last week I filed it in my curiosity file and pulled it out today. It turned out to be a squeaky-clean version of a dim sum takeaway with cutesy but confusing terminology and the addition of salads(?!) to make a balanced "light" meal.
I ordered the "soupy pork dumplings" ($2.07 for five), a "bbq pork bao" ($0.92) and a diet Coke (free, an opening month promotion. The "soupy pork dumplings" turned out to be xiaolong bao wannabes, or to be charitable, xiaolong baos. (I've had far less authentic versions that CALLED themselves XLB.) They looked like XLB all right, but the skin was a bit too thick, the "soup" lacking in flavor depth and the filling somewhat too chewy and salty. I'd probably put them in the lower part of the middle tier of all the versions of XLB I've tried (probably 75 or so since my 1992 epiphany).
The "bbq pork bao" turned out to be a cha shao bao, of course. The filling was pretty standard, not too chunky or too pasty, or too sweet, but it you value a fluffy wrapper, Dim Sum Bar's version might be one of the best you've ever had.
The menu breaks out as follows (where did they get the numbers?): baos .92, dumplings 2.07 salads 3.96, soups 2.99, and "snacks" (curry fishballs, curry veggie sticks) 2.07. Beverages are .92 (including a variety of teas from Stash) and there are a variety of "combo" options that bring a discount. At lunch time familiar rice plates (Mongolian beef, etc.) for 5.30 are offered.
The owner, a young man (I almost said "boy") was friendly and solicitous. He, and later his sister, who is helping run the place, both came out to ask me my reactions to the food and the place.
While not a particularly "authentic" dim sum takeout (Robert, they probably even have clean bathrooms!), It's a pleasant and (pleasantly priced) venue which probably will suffer mostly from its location. Considering how people will line up to pay $3.00 for a bao at Out the Door, it's easy to see it making a killing in or near the FiDi. As it is, its location (620 O'Farrell, next to Lahore Karahi) is neither convenient to downtown nor in an area where you'd be likely to drop in on impulse, and a "destination" restaurant it's not.
I asked about the catering they offered on their awning, and the owner told me they'd do it anyway you want: deliver only, deliver and set up, or even prepare on location.
Dim Sum Bar
620 O'Farrell St. near Leavenworth
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