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San Francisco Bay Area Chinese Dim Sum

Tian Sing Chinese restaurant (dim sum, Union Square)

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Tian Sing Chinese restaurant (dim sum, Union Square)

nooodles | Dec 22, 2005 12:04 PM

Three of us stopped in for lunch yesterday.

Overall: good food, pricey for dim sum. My general feeling was that Chef Jimmy Pang is reaching for a pan-Asian feel. The best I can describe is that he's striving for nouveau Asian, but of the Asian variety, not the Asian American variety. I'll have to go back to make the next statement with certainty, but perhaps Tian Sing is doing for dim sum what Spices I and Spices II do for Szechuan: modernize the flavors, bring in takes on the cuisine from various parts of Asia, add brightness and color to the dishes. I didn't see any bizarre new dim sum items, but the old favorites were wearing new outfits.

Service was lovely. This newly re-modeled space is clean, well lit, airy, casual, and inviting. The staff is jarringly attentive and polite for a dim sum restaurant.

Shrimp dumplings (har gow): tender, thin, slightly chewy skin. Big crunchy flavorful pieces of shrimp.

Crab dumplings: same beautiful skin as in the har gow. Nice, but not noteworthy.

Shanghai soup dumplings (xiao long bao): I broke my rule of not ordering Shanghai dumplings at a dim sum restaurant. The skin was deporable, as usual. The filling and soup inside, however, were delightful. Perfectly flavored, and the soup was crystalline instead of murky as it sometimes is if the dumpling has sat around too long.

Cha siu bao (bbq pork buns): tender steamed bread, moist filling. I would like to see more filling in these, but the quality of the bun made up for the relatively stingy filling.

Peking duck: the sliced green onions could have been fresher. The buns were soft and warm. The duck had great flavor. The duck here is served on the skin with a thick layer of fat and meat attached. I don't know if it can properly be called Peking duck, but that's what you'll get if you order it.

Fried tofu: I don't know what this dish is called. It's mashed up tofu mixed with vegetables, formed into sticks, and deep fried. They look almost like tempura. Tasty.

Egg rolls: the only requirement for egg rolls is that they be served hot and crunchy with some hot and sour sauce. This met the requirements.

Sesame balls filled with lotus paste: I was really disappointed by this dish. Not because it wasn't good, but because they were so good when cold that I knew they must have been stellar when hot. Usually when you bite into a cold sesame ball, oil squirts into your mouth. Even cold, these didn't do that. If I could get them to bring me out a hot order, these would be a great to go snack.

This is complete conjecture because we were too rushed at the end to really figure things out, but I believe dishes are in the $3-6 range, and they do charge for tea. Not bad if you think of it as a nouveau Asian tapas joint, a lot if you're comparing it to old fashioned Chinatown dim sum.

There was also an a la carte menu for fried rice and soup noodles. The bowls of noodles they were bringing out seemed quite generous. I will be back to try them.

138 Cyril Magnin Street
415-398-1338

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