Travelling to Hong Kong or Shanghai in the near future? Despite their many differences they have common threads, particularly the ever popular brunch mayhem that’s best known as dim sum. A longstanding tradition of many branches of Chinese cuisine, this meal consists of a variety of small plates served with a hot pot of tea. Dishes fly out of the kitchen and onto your table if you request it as the cart zooms by, but you may not be familiar with them. So with that in mind, here’s a handy guide to the best dim sum dishes and how to enjoy them.
Har Gow Dumplings
This classic steamed dumpling is usually shrimp based, and has a delicate aroma. Occasionally you can get varieties with dill or green onion added, but this fresh dumpling should be neatly tucked in its crystal clear rice wrap. Feel free to dip yours in a splash of seasoning, personally, I’d vouch for hot mustard.
Siu Mai Dumplings
Siu mai is another classic, however this one is open faced. A mix of ground shrimp and pork, topped with a touch of roe, this dumpling takes names. If you have the chance to try it at a high end dim sum restaurant, it can be surprisingly impressive and elaborate.
Wrapped in lotus leaf, steamed and usually served with Chinese sausage and pork inside, this flavourful dish is a must. It’s always reliable, and provides a good base for a dim sum newby. Be sure to share it though, as sticky rice is ultra-filling.
Taro—a starchy vegetable, is very common in Asian cuisine. Be sure to sink your teeth into a taro puff, for a flavourful and textural experience. These deep fried puffs have a crispy shell filled with a sweet yet savoury cloud of fluffy taro and minced pork.
These pork dumplings have a thicker skin than most. Therefore, they’re seared to perfection and characterised by a slight char on the outside. Filled with minced pork and green onion, be sure to try it with some red wine vinegar to break up the richness.
A personal favourite, turnip cake is made from rice flour and shredded turnips, mixed with a touch of Chinese sausage, made into squares and seared. It’s a perfect mix and a tasty, simple treat, for any dim sum meal. Be sure to try it with hot mustard!
Spare ribs are a common feature in dim sum, usually steamed with a touch of black bean and bell pepper. Flavourful and bite size, and a perfect compromise for those to nervous to gnaw on chicken feet!
Steamed BBQ Pork Buns
These white clouds are bursting with flavour. Filled with scrumptious BBQ pork, you don’t need any soy sauce for this one. Just peel off the paper base and sink your teeth into its fluffy exterior.
Slippery, savoury noodle rolls are a dim sum staple. Usually filled with either shrimp or BBQ pork, these rolls are tricky to nab with chopsticks, so don’t be afraid to get your bowl close to your gullet. They’ll have a sweet soy sauce poured over them when served, so again, no need for additives.
Possibly the best dumplings to have ever taken form, soup dumplings are a truly special delicacy. Be careful when tucking into these: nibble off the top of the dumpling, suck out the hot broth and slurp the rest of the dumpling up. Results in a burst of juicy meat perfectly packaged. A must try for anyone in Shanghai!
Egg tarts are surprisingly delicious, with a flaky yet thick crust cradling a rich yet sweet custard. A perfect way to finish off your meal!
A chewy hallow rice flour ball, with black or red bean paste in its heart, rolled in sesame seeds and deep fried. Just, delightful.
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful on your dim sum quest, and for a truly gourmet adventure, be sure to explore our savoury Hong Kong Masterclass or discover the ancient and modern beauty of China with Buffalo Tours!