San Francisco’s Taraval Street is a row of hidden dumplings


If you walk down Taraval Street in San Francisco’s Parkside neighborhood, it isn’t obvious that this is dumpling heaven at first glance. Starting on 19th Avenue, you’ll pass restaurants like M. Szechuan, House of Pancakes, and Sushi Zen, reflecting the neighborhood’s many Asian American residents. The street is also home to San Francisco’s only Guilin noodle restaurant.

But as you go west towards Ocean Beach, you’ll start to notice a few dumpling restaurants on Taraval. There is Dumpling Specialist between 21st and 22nd avenues, and Dumpling Kitchen closer to 30th. There’s also the epicenter of dumpling houses in the neighborhood: Kingdom of Dumpling near the 27th, which has a storefront offering frozen dumplings, between 30th and 31st Avenues, where you can watch the dumpling makers carefully fold the wrappers. and the trims through the windows.

But these are not the only restaurants in Taraval to offer ravioli. The aforementioned pancake house has an extensive menu of dumplings. Shandong Deluxe, now under new ownership with a red sign that says Happy Family Gourmet in English, also offers dumplings. And Mr. Szechuan specializes in Sichuan cuisine, as the name suggests, but offers a range of dumplings.

All of these restaurants specifically offer jiaozi, Nordic-style Chinese dumplings, although many offer xiaolongbao (Shanghai soup dumplings). That means there are at least six restaurants – and a storefront – that offer jiaozi on a stretch less than a mile long, all on Taraval. There are also two restaurants that serve dim sum, including 8 Immortals and Dim Sum Club. I started to describe it as our own “row of dumplings”.

Part of a mural on Footprint shoe store at 27th and Taraval celebrates the neighborhood’s many dumpling restaurants with an illustrated soup dumpling.

Fiona Lee / SFGATE


Taraval Street in the Parkside neighborhood of San Francisco, as seen on 22nd Avenue.

Taraval Street in the Parkside neighborhood of San Francisco, as seen on 22nd Avenue.

Fiona Lee / SFGATE

This is not necessarily unusual in San Francisco, although the types of dumplings grouped together are different. Chinatown, for example, offers an even greater concentration of dim sum restaurants, reflecting the immigrants to the Hong Kong district and Guangdong province, and its status as a tourist destination, although it has now unfortunately been much quieter since then. the pandemic. The area is so famous for its dim sum that even President Barack Obama has passed by to pick it up. The Richmond District has many delicious options for dim sum, as well as European dumplings, like pelmeni, in Little Russia.

Taraval is not a tourist destination, although it is a commercial corridor in an otherwise residential area. It is also my own neighborhood. Because I eat dumplings all the time and even cook them every once in a while using my mom’s recipe, does that make me my own dumpling pop-up? – I was curious as to why my neighborhood had so many restaurants focused on jiaozi.

Many of Taraval's dumpling restaurants are connected to each other in one way or another.

Many of Taraval’s dumpling restaurants are connected to each other in one way or another.

Lance Yamamoto / SFGATE Special

To try and answer that question, I reached out to Rebecca Yu. She and her father, Paul, are the owners and chefs of Dumpling Specialist, which opened in 2019 in what was previously a nail salon. It’s a tiny and cozy operation, with Paul making the dumplings and Rebecca preparing everything else on the highly focused menu, which includes fantuan (sticky rice rolls stuffed with fried dough and pickled vegetables) and noodle soup. with beef.

“When people started [dumpling restaurants], I don’t think it was because they wanted to group places based on their location. Taraval has the right rent and the right price, ”she explained.


Besides more affordable rents compared to the rest of San Francisco, Taraval has so many jiaozi places because they have grown from other places. They are all interconnected.

Before the Yu family opened Dumpling Specialist, they were the owners – along with another business partner – behind the much larger and hugely popular Dumpling Kitchen near 30th Avenue. Paul had also previously worked at the Dim Sum Palace and Gold Mountain Banquet Hall in Chinatown, which closed in 2011. Because his roots were in northern China, he wanted to open a different kind of restaurant. of dumplings.

Paul Yu and his daughter Rebecca once owned Dumpling Kitchen in 1935 Taraval.  After a brief shutdown, it is now owned by their former business partner and continues to offer soup dumplings and Shanghai cuisine.

Paul Yu and his daughter Rebecca once owned Dumpling Kitchen in 1935 Taraval. After a brief shutdown, it is now owned by their former business partner and continues to offer soup dumplings and Shanghai cuisine.

Fiona Lee / SFGATE


The Yu family now run Dumpling Specialist at 1123 Taraval.

The Yu family now run Dumpling Specialist at 1123 Taraval.

Fiona Lee / SFGATE

“When we opened [Dumpling Kitchen]“, says Rebecca,“ there weren’t all those dumpling restaurants. There was just Kingdom of Dumpling, of course, and I think Shandong Deluxe was there too. And it wasn’t about the location; we did not know. We didn’t choose the location because there were dumplings.

In fact, initially they were concerned about the closeness of Kingdom of Dumpling, but in the end the lease for the space that would become Dumpling Kitchen worked. And while Dumpling Kitchen has been a successful business, with regular lineups, Rebecca says the restaurant has taken its toll on her father, who worked long hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“It was just too much on her body,” she said. Initially, she said, he was going to retire from the restaurant business, with their former business partner now in charge of Dumpling Kitchen, but that took about two months. The two decided to open a smaller restaurant, the one that would become Dumpling Specialist. Rebecca says they also considered a space elsewhere in the Sunset on Noriega Street, but that didn’t look right to them.

This interconnection was also very apparent when I called Kingdom of Dumpling owner Qinghe Li. If Taraval is San Francisco’s hidden dumpling row, then Li might just be its mayor.

The unofficial epicenter of San Francisco's Dumpling Row is Kingdom of Dumpling, which opened in 2007.

The unofficial epicenter of San Francisco’s Dumpling Row is Kingdom of Dumpling, which opened in 2007.

Fiona Lee / SFGATE

When I first ask him about the dumpling restaurants in Taraval, he laughs and says I’m in the right place. Li’s Kingdom of Dumpling was the first on the scene, opened in 2007. Today, the restaurant is arguably Taraval’s most famous dumpling place, regularly featured in dumpling rounds and Chinese restaurants.

He says he first started focusing on jiaozi because he is from Hebei Province in northern China. “It’s like the style of our hometown,” he explains, although Kingdom of Dumpling offers more unusual takes, like those with kale.

And it turns out, Li is a seasoned restaurateur who is involved with many restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area. He is also one of the founders of House of Pancakes, explaining why this restaurant, despite its name, also serves jiaozi. Li is also behind the storefront of Kingdom of Dumpling on Taraval between the 30th and the 31st, which sells frozen dumplings directly to the public; officially, it’s known as the Asian American Food Company, but sports a Kingdom of Dumpling sign on the outside.

These master dumpling makers fold and fill right in the frozen dumpling display cabinet from Kingdom of Dumpling.

These master dumpling makers fold and fill right in the frozen dumpling display cabinet from Kingdom of Dumpling.

Lance Yamamoto / SFGATE Special

Other link: a former employee of another of his restaurants, King of Noodles, opened Shandong Deluxe between 20th and 21st avenues. “They were hoping to attract our customers to them,” laughed Li. But he didn’t sound so concerned, saying that in any market, there was always competition.

And maybe the best thing about all this competition and interconnection in San Francisco’s hidden dumpling row is that with so many restaurants, customers have so many options. You can buy them frozen and cook them yourself, not only from Kingdom of Dumpling or its storefront, but also from Shandong Deluxe. You can order Chinese beef pancakes and dumplings at the House of Pancakes. You can have soup dumplings and Shanghai cuisine at Dumpling Kitchen, or soup dumplings with beef soup noodles and sticky rice rolls at Dumpling Specialist.

For Dumpling Specialist’s Rebecca Yu, maybe it’s the street itself that has gravitational pull, though the relatively affordable rents certainly help. She has lived in the neighborhood for decades now and has found community with other restaurateurs on the street. “I’m really, really grateful to be on Taraval,” she said.


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