Ton Kiang Dim Sum & Andy Warhol at the de Young

warholharryMy tendency to pair dim sum with trips to the de Young Museum is two-fold: (1) there are some noteworthy dim sum restaurants in the Richmond District, just a few blocks north of Golden Gate Park, and (2) since I have very little will power with dim sum, the de Young is a great venue to wander around while the bloating slowly subsides. Last week, I stopped in at Ton Kiang before heading to the “Warhol Live” exhibit, which began three weeks ago and runs through May 17.

The dim sum at Ton Kiang is exemplary, and while I’m totally content to put up with surly attitudes at many dim sum venues, I’d have to say that the service at Ton Kiang is exemplary as well. In some ways, Ton Kiang represents the bridge between the fancy restaurants with the dim sum carts and those that sell steamed pork buns from behind a glass display case: with Ton Kiang, dim sum is offered on small trays, which often appear in rapid-fire succession.

Back when I was studying Eastern philosophy during my days as a UCLA undergrad, I remember a very insightful text, titled “Entering the Stream,” which borrows its title from an ancient Buddhist metaphor. I’m always reminded of this title when I visit at a restaurant like Ton Kiang, which has so many delicious items circling the dining room, already in full swing the moment you walk in the door. For this, the order in which your lunch arrives is essentially unpredictable.

Most recently, my lunch began with a delicious stack of Chinese long beans with mushrooms, perfectly stir-fried and glistening with a thin coat of oil. After the green beans, the session became more of blur — baked pork buns arrived alongside Chinese doughnuts (addicting), shrimp-stuffed crab claws, slices of roast duck, pot stickers and myriad dumplings. Each item proved to be a worthy example of its type, and together, a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon in San Francisco.

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