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Dim Sum

Dim Sum Dim Sum

Dim sum means ‘touch your heart’ and with as many as 150 items on a restaurant menu, and 2,000 in the entire range, it is a challenge to not find something you love. As Cantonese people tend to avoid fried foods early in the day, steamed dishes dominate most dim sum menus. There are also snack-sized portions of pan-fried, deep-fried, and baked served in bamboo containers, which are designed to be eaten communally and washed down with tea. Hence, going for dim sum is known as yum cha, which literally means ‘drinking tea.’ Usually a brunch or lunch affair, it is a common form of family, co-worker and other group get-togethers.

Today, dim sum restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, from straight shooting to high falutin’. Start with one of the large mid-priced eateries where in the midst of boisterous conversations you will see multiple generations gather around the table for a no-nonsense family feed and office workers enjoying a short but effective break from the daily grind. When you enter, let the waiter know how many people are in your group, be seated, decide on what type of tea you want, order your dim sum, and enjoy a quintessential Hong Kong experience!

What to order?

Although a traditional style of dining, dim sum is in a constant state of evolution and there are always new and innovative dishes to taste. Here are some of the classics:

Steamed shrimp dumpling

Shrimp wrapped in a thinly-rolled piece of translucent wheat dough. Often, the dumpling will include pork. Ideally, the contents will be 70 per cent shrimp and 30 per cent pork.

Steamed shrimp dumpling

Shao mai

A type of Chinese dumpling. The typical Cantonese dim sum variant consists of ground pork, whole or chopped shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, green onions and ginger, wrapped in thin wheat dough, seasoned with Chinese rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil, and garnished with a dollop of crab roe.

Shao mai

Barbecued pork bun

Tender, sweet, slow-roasted pork tenderloin, usually seasoned in oyster sauce, and encased in a fine, soft bun.

Barbecued pork bun
Veteran food critic, author and Best of the Best Culinary Awards judge William Mark recommends the Oyster Sauce Roast Pork Steamed Bun at West Villa Restaurant:
West Villa Restaurant
Address: 5/F, Lee Gardens One, Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
Tel: +852 2882 2110
 How to get there: MTR Causeway Bay Station, Exit F

Cheung fen

A thin roll of rice flour, filled with shrimp, beef, sweet barbecued pork or other ingredients. It is usually steamed and served with soy sauce.

Cheung fen
Jacky Yu, chef, restaurateur, author and food critic recommends Rice Rolls with Pork Liver and Roast Duck at Tong Kee Steamed Vermicelli Roll Specialise:
Tong Kee Steamed Vermicelli Roll Specialise
Address: 26A – 26C, Man Wui Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2710 7950
 How to get there: MTR Austin Station Exit A. Walk along Ferry Street for about 10 minutes
Did you know?
How to make Cheung fen?

1. Pour the rice paste onto the steam cloth which has been placed on top of the steamer.
2. Before the rice paste solidifies, add the ingredients evenly.
3. When the rice paste is steamed and appears translucent, remove the steam cloth. The shape of the rice rolls is initially formed.
4. Cut into portions. Roll them skillfully into rice rolls. Serve hot.

Spring rolls

A variety of vegetable and sometimes meat ingredients are rolled inside a sheet of thin dough and deep fried.

Spring rolls

Deep-fried shrimp dumpling

Shrimp, sometimes with pork fat, wrapped in dough and deep fried. Crispy exterior, juicy filling!

Deep-fried shrimp dumpling
Veteran food critic and author William Mark recommends the Deep Fried Prawn Dumpling with Salad Dressing at Forum Restaurant:
Forum Restaurant
Address: 1/F Sino Plaza, 255-257 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
Tel: +852 2869 8282
 How to get there: MTR Causeway Bay, Exit C

Barbecued pork pastry

Sweet, barbecued pork in a thin, flaky pastry.

Barbecued pork pastry
What they say

“Recently, it’s been a hit to serve Chinese dishes with quality wine. To do that with dim sum, especially for spring rolls, the best pick would be champagne.”

William Mark, veteran food critic and author, has been a prominent figure in Hong Kong’s culinary scene for several decades.

Did you know?

Pay attention at a dim sum restaurant and you will see diners tapping three fingers on the table to express gratitude when someone pours tea for them. This ritual originated with a Qing dynasty (1644-1911) emperor who liked to travel the land disguised as a commoner. On one such occasion he was in a teahouse with his officials and took his turn to pour tea. His officials could not accept this honour without kowtowing, but also could not kowtow without blowing the emperor’s cover. Instead, they tapped three fingers on the table, one representing the bowed head and the other two the prostrate arms.


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