Whether your favorite is the light and fluffy dumpling, pan-fried pot stickers or delicately steamed buns, dim sum is yum, yum. With Chinese New Year upon us (beginning Feb. 5) and to honor the Year of the Pig, head to one of these local hot spots to dine on Asian cuisine. From restaurants with steaming carts of dumplings to eateries with adorable pig and panda bao buns, we’ve found a variety of places to get your fill of dim sum. Read on for where to take your appetite.

Din Tai Fung

Perfectly casual dim sum dining at UTC. Little eaters can watch the rolling of dumplings right inside this eatery. Even more, they'll chow down on chicken fried noodles and wonton soup. For grown-ups, you'll love the pork and crab xiaolong bao, pork bun or veggie dumplings. Yum!

Good to know: expect a wait as Din Tai Fung encourages walk-ins.

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5-9 p.m.

Westfield UTC
4301 La Jolla Village Dr.
San Diego, CA 92122
Online: dintaifungusa.com


Umami Japanese

With a nod to both meat and vegetarian options, go to Umami for sushi and dim sum. For dim sum, the bao buns with soy-braised pork-belly or caramelized onion and mushroom hit the spot. Likewise, the veggie caterpillar roll or spider roll (with soft shell crab) is a winner. Even more, there's a kids' menu with choices like teriyaki chicken or gyoza with rice and soup ($7). The whole fam is sure to enjoy this dining spot.

Hours: Sun.-Weds., 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

251 North City Dr., Ste. 122
San Marcos, CA 92096
Online: umamijp.com

photo: Bao Bar

Bao Bar Boba & Bun

Due to open in March, stop by the Bao Bar Boba & Bun inside the Liberty Public Market. This new concept eatery will offer freshly-made steamed Chinese bao buns and fresh spring rolls both meat and vegetarian style. Even more, wash it down with a milk tea boba or smoothie with different toppings to choose from. There are plenty of other food offerings at the Market to satisfy every taste bud. Get your food, then pop outside, grab a table and eat up.

Liberty Public Market
2820 Historic Decatur Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106
Online: libertypublicmarket.com

Jasmine Seafood Restaurant

Let the good times roll at this grand seafood restaurant that's bustling with families. This dim sum hot spot still rolls out the goods in those shiny carts (which littles love). Even more, the classic har gow (shrimp dumplings) have a slight crunch and savory flavor. Another favorite, the BBQ pork buns go over well with young diners. There's a stage in the restaurant that hosts the lucky lion dancers several times around Chinese New Year (and it's free)! Remember to bring your red envelopes to feed to the dancing lion.

Dim Sum Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Lucky Lion Dancers: Tues.-Sun., 2/5-2/17 (click here to check the website for exact times)

4609 Convoy St., Ste. A
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: jasmineseafood.com

photo: Harumama


Kids will get a real kick out of the playful takes on Asian fare found at Harumama. How could anyone resist these adorable, cartoon-like character steamed buns? We think the panda bun (filled with a not too sweet purple potato) tastes yummy. Also, the cute chicken bun showers your taste buds with the creamy egg custard inside. You'll also find traditional ramen with a contemporary twist, specialty sushi rolls, bites and greens, small plates, noodles, bao buns and bowls on the menu. Wash your dim sum down with Japanese beer including Asahi and Kirin, along with local craft beer, specially imported beers, wine, sake, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Hours: Check the website for hours. Different hours by location.

New! Carlsbad Location
2958 Madison St.
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Little Italy Neighborhood
1901 Columbia St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: www.harumamasd.com

photo: Marissa Mullen

China Max

You'll get the picture at this light, airy eatery, where photo menus replace the rolling carts. For one thing, share the barbecue pork buns with a sweet honey-glazed shredded pork and the steamed sticky rice wrapped in Lotus leaf. For an extra fun treat, try the fried crab balls. They come on a stick, making it easy for half-pints to munch on. Be sure to soak up our gorgeous San Diego weather and eat outside on the covered patio.

Dim Sum Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

4698 Convoy St., Ste. C101
San Diego, CA 92111

Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon

Eat dumplings at this cool Shanghai-themed eatery. With little eaters entranced by the rickshaw in the room, it's easy to get your order in. Even more, as far as dumplings go everything is good. We eat up the soup dumplings and pan-fried pot stickers, always good to order with the crew in tow. Grown-ups will enjoy the shrimp and chive dumpling. Still more, the chow mein is a good option too. We recommend arriving early to find a parking spot.

Dumpling Inn Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4-8:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4-9:30 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

4625 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: dumplinginn.com

Steamy Piggy

These decadent dumplings are made fresh-to-order. Little eaters can watch them rolled from scratch right before their eyes! We love this restaurant's homey vibe and stylish decor with macrame hanging plants and a fire pit for outdoor dining. The dumplings are delish and you can choose between many different fillings. Kids will love the cute panda bear or pig dessert bao with custard inside too.

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4-9:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

4681 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: steamypiggy.com

photo: West Pac Noodle Bar

West Pac Noodle Bar

The bao buns at West Pac Noodle Bar are slightly sweet and full of Char siu pork, hoisin, Namasu and cilantro. Be sure to try the crispy lumpia stuffed with minced pork, veggies and sweet chili sauce––they're fried to perfection. Here they serve food from Japan to Singapore and Thailand to Hawaii too.

Hours: Weds.-Mon., 11 a.m.-close

1166 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118
Online: westpac.com

––Nikki Walsh


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