Dim sum restaurants, with their wheeled carts, expertly snipped noodles and rituals around tea—don’t pour your own!—are among the most magical exponents of Cantonese cuisine. That degree of romance is not quite present at Good Mong Kok Bakery, a takeout-only dim sum spot on a block of Stockton Street that was reduced practically to rubble by the construction of the Central Subway.
No matter. This place is an essential.
Koi Palace it ain’t, although the floppy turnip cakes and sesame balls filled with red bean paste are must-tries. The real reason to wait in this occasionally very long line is to get dumplings: specifically, the thick (shrimp har gow) and the thin (pork siu mai). The gooey mouthfeel that rice flour imparts is wonderful on its own, but once slathered in soy sauce and sriracha, these plump and springy dumplings are absolute perfection. Now that Chinatown-Rose Pak Station is open—well, weekends-only for now—there’s no reason not to make this bakery a fixture of the urban exploring that every San Francisco resident is duty-bound to undertake at least occasionally.
The best way to proceed is to peer through the front windows at whatever you see in the steamers and keep questions to a minimum. Service is brisk and brusque. (Don’t expect too much help online, either, as Good Mong Kok’s website, while technically functioning, is a mess of code.) And inflation may be rampant, but virtually every order works out to only a dollar per item.
Once you’re back on the sidewalk, I recommend taking your dumpling-stuffed clamshell package to the redwood grove behind the Transamerica Pyramid, and going to town.
Astrid Kane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org