Dim Sum is more a style of eating, than a part of a menu; usually served as a late breakfast, lunch or brunch meal. It is comprised of small, individual prepared snack plates, sort of a westernized chinese food version of tapas. Although Dim Sum can be found in all parts of the world, it's predominantly found in concentrated Asian communities.
What to expect? It's a food frenzy of organized chaos. Dim sum people take their dim sum seriously. First rule, don't be late, seats fill up fast. Orders are usually picked very quickly off rolling carts stacked with hot steamy dishes. It's helpful to go with someone who knows the ropes the first time you dim sum. The cart pulls up, you point, they serve and stamp the card on your table noting what items you selected off their cart. Note, the small plates can add up by the end of the meal, but understand it's pretty healthy and affordable food for eating out. So what's on the menu? Plan on a variety of dishes ranging from pastry to barbecued meats and seafood to buns and dumplings served with a pot of hot jasmine tea. Oh, and some deep fried items. My favorite is called Char Siu Baos, a fluffy warm bread (bun) with honey glazed BBQ pork and dipping sauces. Some of my other favorites are Shu Mai and Har Gow; dumplings with vegetables and shrimp.
Where to find Dim Sum? One of my top stops when on the west coast, in San Francisco is Yank Sing. Doesn’t this menu description from Yank Sing get you hungry? “Peking Duck- a house-roasted Peking Duck served as a deem sum appetizer, Crispy paper thin honey-coated skin and tender slices of succulent meat stuffed in a steamed seashell bun, accompanied with finely slivered scallions and smears of tangy hoisin sauce.”
Can’t make it to SFO this week, then try Chowhound for one of the 17,000+ Dim Sum choices near you! How about you- where's your favorite dim sum?