Summing up Dim Sum (and then some)

The weekend is soon here and it’s time to think about brunch, Dim Sum brunch that is. Dim Sum translates to touching the heart and is also referred to as “yum cha” which means to drink tea. So, saying “Let’s go dim sum” is the same as saying, “Let’s go yum cha (drink tea).” It’s also known as brunch time where people gather for Chinese like tapas, nibble and talk story. What I really appreciate about dim sum is that babies, elderly and everyone in between… all love dim sum. It pleases the masses which attests to how it’s great for virtually all taste buds!

Dim Sum love starts at a young age, just ask Ayla! She loves pork buns!!!

Here’s what you can expect…

Enter a large room, and in traditional setting, you can find servers (typically women) pushing carts of delicious tapa-like dumplings, buns, or dishes that have been freshly steamed or deep fried.  Recently, more restaurants have done without the dim sum carts and provide a menu where you can check off what you want. I prefer the latter because it’s more fresh and less of a commotion.

There is so much to choose from and because it can be somewhat overwhelming, I have listed my top 10 dishes (I’d venture to say that these are commonly favored by most).

Photos courtesy of Lunasia Dim Sum House

Last week, we celebrated Tony’s birthday at a Dim Sum brunch with our family at one of my favorite places, Lunasia Dim Sum House. In answering questions, I thought I’d share with you some dim sum etiquette tips and pointers so that you know what to expect when you dim sum.

  • There will be a tea pot and tea cups. You never serve yourself first. You serve those to the left first and then to the right. If there is an elder, you deviate from this rule and serve the eldest first. You don’t need to serve everyone, just those within arms reach.
  • Somebody else will likely also serve you tea. When they serve you tea, as a way of thanking them, you use your index and middle fingers (using one hand only) and gently apply about 3 taps to the table (by your tea cup) as it nears the end of your pour. This dates back to how emperors would thank others when they were served tea.
  • This is a family style meal, so be mindful. There is plenty to go around and you can easily order more. Don’t stock pile and don’t hoard your favorite dumpling or dish. Ensure that everyone has a share.
  • Remember, you don’t have to wait for dessert, so when those egg tarts or jello comes around, go for it. Dessert is not last and it’s whenever you want it to be.
  • Again, this is family style…BE MINDFUL. Don’t double dip or reach across to grab the piece that is speaking to you. Grab the piece that is closest to you and do it with a community pair of chopsticks (if available), or do it in one gesture. Refrain from picking at the dish.
  • If there is a lazy Susan, look before you spin as to ensure that nobody is in the middle of serving themselves.
  • Mustard and chili are supplied at the table, add to taste. I prefer asking for fresh cut chili and soy sauce (this is a common request), just ask.
  • It is customary to leave standard tip amount as dim sum is considered full service.


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