Clement Street Series: Wing Lee Bakery Dim Sum
Wing Lee Bakery’s Dim Sum
Clement Street in the Inner Richmond is a dizzying bee hive of Asian eateries, each little cell offering their own take on (to name only a few): Vietnamese Pho or Bahn Mi; Chinese Dim Sum (a labyrinthine category within which you can happily lose yourself, perhaps stumbling upon a pointy-eared David Bowie sucking the broth from a soup dumpling at a dirty formica table); various bakeries offering esoteric treats from woolly, strange subcultures known to no human being save the Chinese government’s Minister of the Interior, and so on.
Following the advice of a friend who’s opinion I take as gospel at face value, I went to Wing Lee Bakery, which sits next to partner Wing Lee BBQ on the corner of Sixth Street. Everything is prepared and cooked in the back and brought up front to be displayed before the ravenous eye of the consumer: Gow (dumplings with a thick, glutinous rice wrapper filled with pretty much anything, but commonly shrimp or pork), steamed or bbq’d pork buns, Sew Mai (another dumpling with a thinner wrapper and more meat), and a few dozen different baked sweets in a separate case. The place is subtitled “Dim Sum To Go”, and it’s clear from the setup that their interest lies in the quick moving of product out the door rather than its enjoyment at a table. Tables they do have: misshapen, ill-laundered affairs not meant for people who stock bars of soap in their basements. I stubbornly chose to sit at one anyway after ordering at the counter from a brusque, contemptuous lady who then whisked my food to me on a metal disc loaded with pork buns and dumplings, and asked me for four dollars and fifty cents. Even for dim sum, this place is cheap, and good, and filling. Frills it has none, and don’t ask for none, because all you’ll get is a withering stare and maybe a splash of hot oil in your face.
P.S. I believe this’ll be the first in a series dedicated to Clement Street, so if the above intrigues, stay tuned.
Wing Lee Bakery
503 Clement Street (@ 6th Avenue)