Brunchology 101 Erica's reviews

Brunching around the world: Chinese dim sum

By on January 5, 2012

Inside a dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I knew an authentic dim sum brunch would be a must. I wanted to taste and discover what many Chinese people consider brunch. I was with a local, Annie Chen, and being  that I am a brunch blogger, I had several questions about dim sum brunching. Miss Chen informed me that this is what she and her friends do every weekend. They spend several hours eating, chatting and sipping on tea. Although you can eat dim sum any time of day, most people do so in the mornings and early afternoons on the weekends at a dim sum restaurant. Some believe that dim sum inspired the whole idea of brunch.

Steamed pork dumpling with broth

What is dim sum? Dim sum is Chinese-style food prepared and served in small, almost tapas-like sizes.  The food can be steamed or fried. There are a wide range of meats, vegetables and other ingredients used, which makes it great way to sample and taste many dishes during a dim sum brunch.

Typically, servers will walk around the restaurant with carts showcasing the dim sum dishes, allowing patrons to see what their options are. You simply flag down a server and take whatever you like off of the cart. There are also restaurants that have an extensive menu, and you simply check off the dishes you want, which arrive at your table in a particular order – steamed dishes, exotic eats (think chicken feet), fried items and then dessert.  Ordering everything family style to share is customary.

Steamed chicken feet with mixed sauces

Where did dim sum begin? The history of dim sum cuisine started with the Cantonese in the southern region of China, who began opening tea houses for weary travelers and farmers journeying along Silk Road. The tea houses did not serve large portions or meals because it was believed that consuming tea and food would gain excessive weight. Thus, tea houses served small, bite-size portions, or what we now know as dim sum.

Examples of dim sum dishes:


Steamed shrimp dumpling

– Steamed shrimp dumpling
– Steamed pork pun
– Wonton with chili oil
– Deep fried shrimp dumpling
– Shark’s fin soup with chicken
– Baked BBQ pork buns
– Crispy bean curd
– Pan fried rice noodle
– Mango pudding or smoothies
– Fried or steamed New Year’s cake

Where to find dim sum in NYC:

Deep-fried BBQ pork & vegetable dumpling in elephant shape

– Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Chinatown
– East Harbor Seafood Palace: Brooklyn
– Buddha Bodai: Chinatown
– Chatham Square: Chinatown
– Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant: Flushing, Queens
– Golden Unicorn: Chinatown
– Chinatown Brasserie: NoHo
– Red Farm: West Village

Written by: Erica


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