French Concession [closed]

Update: This location has closed.

DIM SUM during the week you say? That's not normal (except in Convoy)! But now there's a new restaurant in Hillcrest called French Concession that IS open with your choice of favorite dim sum items from noon to 10pm, any day of the week. The catch... don't expect any servers pushing carts or the typical round tables with lazy susans. Instead, this place has normal table service and a more 'chic' feel.

French Concession - outdoor view

When we arrived, we noticed that the restaurant had lights with changing colors (blue, purple) on either side of the building. This makes for a GREAT "light painting" picture, as we would call the picture above, but in reality, it's a fraction of the brightness above and quite dark in the night, and makes it harder to find if you're unfamiliar with the area.

The main restaurant dining area is upstairs with tasteful cream colored seating/tables while the downstairs has small pub tables and a lounge-y feel. You can also order drinks from the bartender. This place has a selection of local craft beer as well as imported asian drinks. We came for the food of course!

French Concession - baked bbq pork buns

Since we are very familiar with dim sum, we decided to order our favorite dishes so we could compare! One of my favorites is the baked bbq pork bun. This one was a nice fluffy bread with a light grazing of butter and tasty pork nibbles inside. As we ate the buns, we noticed that the default utensils were a fork and knife! I suppose we could have asked for chopsticks but personally, I prefer a fork over chopsticks for most asian foods!

French Concession - pork sui mai

Another favorite dim sum item of ours is pork sui mai. Most restaurants will have a pork version and a separate shrimp version. At FC, the pork version includes bits of shrimp mixed inside which is the best of both worlds! I thought this was a great blend, especially compared to Emerald restaurant's, which I didn't like. Also, diners tend to dip items like these into a little soy sauce that is self-mixed with the thick and spicy red chili pepper sauce. We noticed that it's not on the table by default but just ask your friendly waiter for some.

French Concession - har gow

Another tasty dim sum item we ordered is the har gow, which is shrimp in a dumpling-like wrap. This is one that I just like to eat for the huge chunks of shrimp and gluttenous texture, but it's not too different between restaurants. This one is also typicaly dipped in a little soy sauce and mixings.

French Concession - honey walnut shrimp

The fried scallops were recommended by our waiter so we grabbed an order of these. I thought that the fried edges were a bit too much for me but once you hit the middle, it's a BURST of yummy scallop, and plenty of it! If I could, I'd ask for only the center portions and save a few calories too!

French Concession - fried scallop

Besides dim sum, the restaurant offers a few traditional chinese entrees on the menu. Immediately we looked for another of our favorite dishes: honey walnut shrimp. Here, the shrimps were coated just enough with the sweet glaze, which itself was less mayonnaise creamy than other places, so I did really enjoy this version. The walnuts accompanying them were candied and crunchy. One improvement is that the shrimp underneath could have been a little crispier.

French Concession - orange chicken

Our last entree was orange chicken. We liked the sticky sweet sauce and juicy tender chicken breast and really appreciated the hot food temperature. Our waiter told us the entrees were medium sized and these two were the smallest. We thought we could handle it all but alas, we were full and only halfway through this one dish. The orange chicken with rice can stand on its own as a complete meal!

The restaurant doesn't feel crowded with its two rows of seating. Our waiter was very accommoding and polite but on that night, he was the only waiter which slowed down the service a little. Also, the dim sum prices start at 5.25 and up so you'll be swapping ambience for a little more money over the typical dim sum places. There is a happy hour between 4-6pm so hit that for discounts on food and drink! In general, it feels more like a place you'd go to with friends to eat and drink so we may drop by again with buddies if we had the mid-week craving.

Disclaimer: we were hosted for this meal but the opinions are strictly our own.

[closed] French Concession
3671 5th Avenue
San Diego CA 92101
(619) 297-8424

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ohsoyummy's picture
Submitted by ohsoyummy on Fri, 12/20/2013 - 8:39am

There's a groupon-type offer ($15 for $30 worth of food) available to purchase until the end of the year here:

Faye's picture
Submitted by Faye (not verified) on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 10:50am

I've been wanting to try this place but was worried about 1) parking and 2) the price of the dim sum. This would be a nice place to visit if I have a late night craving for dim sum. But $5.25 is kinda pricey. Have you visited Pearl in Rancho Bernardo? They have good dim sum and had a 'all dim sum for the price of a small' special some time ago.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 7:35pm

Hi Faye,

The restaurant is not on the busy street (University) so parking wasn't too bad. You should check out the deal posted in the comment above yours. That would cut down your bill a little bit or you could do happy hour! We'll probably come back for happy hour anyway to check out the drinks!

We went to Pearl a week ago for some dim sum. Food is good there too and cheap but we had to flag down a waiter to get the pork sui mai! Gotta sit closer to the kitchen next time to get that cart!

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Thu, 01/16/2014 - 1:42pm

I drive by that restaurant all the time and I saw the sign saying a dim sum restaurant was coming to the spot and got really excited to have dim sum that close by! Glad to see the food is alright, I have to stop by soon.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 01/20/2014 - 3:19pm

I still want to get a shrimp ball with sugar cane! We tried to get one at Jasmine this past weekend but it was always "wait 15 minutes more"... I didn't remember seeing it at Pearl but I don't think I was looking for it on that visit. I do know it's at French Concession (saw it on This Tasty Life) so I want to come back for just that!

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