It's a Sunday and the SO and I just finished a movie and want a quick bite. How 'bout some dim sum he says. Sure, but I don't want to go to Chinatown or the Richmond to get it. Then he reminds me there's Canton Seafood Dim Sum Restaurant in our SOMA neighborhood and I'm like sure let's go.
It's one of those large sprawling dining rooms, where yes, they do come around with the carts, and on this Sunday it is bustling. Actually, the place is always crowded on Sundays, that whole after church thing and I see folks who look like tourists. After some waiting at the server stand and some table clearing we finally get seated. They bring us out some hot tea pretty quickly, but it seems the ladies with the hot trays or backed up and don't seem to be coming over to our side of the restaurant. We can see the head guy talking animatedly to the ladies and we assume by the way he's pointing, he's telling them they need to roll through to the other side as folks are waiting. It was roughly 10-15 minutes before they finally came around our way.
Fortunately, they have a menu with pictures at the tables so you can figure out what it is on the carts. After some discussion we pick three to start.
Steamed chicken dumpling with chive, shrimp dumpling with pea sprout and peanuts and steamed b.b.q. pork buns. There is a lot of dim sum in this town and really, how do you judge it? Let's start with the fillings. We liked the chicken and chive, it was like a tiny meatball, held together well and not overly chived. The shrimp, pea sprout and peanut was okay though heavy on the peanut which did give it some texture. Outside of that both of these didn't have flavor beyond their basic ingredients. The b.b.q. pork was tasty with only a hint of sweetness which can sometimes be over done. The steamed wraps were a bit on the sticky side but the pork bun was fluffy and soft. Dipped in a little soy sauce we both thought these were decent small bites with pork the better of the three.
With room for some more we went with rice noodles stuffed with shrimp and shrimp stuffed mushrooms. (Yes, it was almost a subconscious theme we did) The shrimp rice noodle wasn't exactly stuffed, more like one shrimp per and the noodle were more sticky slimy than the other ones. Can't say either one of us was a fan of these. The other dish had ground shrimp baked into a mushroom cap then covered in a black bean sauce. We did kind of like this. It had nice earthiness from the mushroom and the black bean added some saltiness and flavor to offset it. With the shrimp being ground with some other meat we weren't sure of, possibly, hopefully chicken or pork, it did have an odd texture, but I think that just added a nice contrast to the mushroom. So one good, one not so much.
In the grand scheme of dim sum, the stuff at Canton is decent if not spectacular. Like with any dim sum place there will always be hits and misses and sometimes you do have to be careful what you choose. Though considering their costs, taking a culinary risk isn't such a big deal. Plates range in price from $2.85 to $6.50 for some Chef Specials. For 2 people we got in and out for around $20 not including tip. While I wouldn't say you need to go out of your way to try this place out, if you are or live in SOMA it's a worth it alternative to hiking to another part of town just to get dim sum.