Covet Thy Neighbor

The great dim sum parlor next to the swarmed one

Imagine a weekend-morning dim sum fix without the interminable wait.

At Golden River in San Francisco's Outer Richmond district, fulfilling such clarion hunger pangs is possible–and simple.

The restaurant sits right next to perpetually lauded–and packed–Ton Kiang. Bypass the fools milling out front and grab a table at Golden River, where a less frenzied dining experience awaits, even at peak times.

As at the best dim sum parlors, the dumplings are worth lingering over. Lamb siu mai ($2.60 for 4) are fat, juice-sputtering globes. In lieu of the usual porky sweetness, these exude a husky, smoky depth.

Pan-fried yellow-chive dumplings ($2.60 for 3) are squat rounds, soft and translucent on the bottom, yet lightly crisped on top. A garlicky tangle of oily greens and shrimp lurks within. Healthy-tasting and restorative, the pea shoot dumplings ($2.60 for 3) are akin to sacs, the space around the tightly clumped shoots puffed out with air.

Go when the restaurant opens at 9 a.m. for the most peaceful breakfast possible. Then, music videos play on the muted TV. A couple of elderly Chinese men have a hushed conversation. A young boy opens the front door for his grandmother. You have a whole table to yourself and your painlessly procured dim sum.

Golden River, 5827 Geary Blvd.; 415-668-5105 or goldenriversf.com