What is Dim Sum?
Dim sum is a delightfully delicious meal consisting of light dishes of Chinese cuisine, served with tea. Delectable and exotic, a meal of dim sum can truly be one of the best you've ever had. It is a specialized Chinese cuisine that requires many ingredients that can be easily found at a Chinese or other Asian grocery store.
It is meant to be sort of an Asian brunch that is served a la carte. Once seated, the staff will come over to your table while pushing carts that loaded with all sorts of delicacies. It is mostly taken for breakfast or for lunch, and Sundays are extremely popular for a family lunch or breakfast. On those days you will have to arrive early or know someone at the dim sum restaurant if you do not want to wait in line for hours if you want to sit at a table.
Most of the menu will basically consist of steamed and fried dumplings and other small dishes (such as chicken feet, yum!) that are traditionally served on weekends as brunch up until 3 pm. Small plates are served that consist of meat, seafood, vegetables, along with desserts. It is somewhat comparable to Spanish tapas.
Dim sum is truly a delightful tradition and it is something you should always go to in groups, because otherwise it will be pretty hard to get a wide enough sampling of dishes and still have room for it all.
It is of Cantonese origin and is mostly had for lunch. There can often be a tea charge and lunch specials will be offered. Dim sum is mostly served until about 3:00 PM, when the staff begins to prepare for dinner time. In
Hong Kong, restaurants might open as early as 6:30 AM, and smaller parties are harder to accommodate than large ones, so the hostess will offer anyone who is willing to share a large table with another small party.
It is usually linked with the older tradition of Yum Cha (drinking tea in Chinese), which has its roots in travellers on the ancient
Silk Road needing a place to rest and eat. Thus teahouses were established along the roadside. It is a delicious culinary adventure, and one which will never be the same no matter how many times you decide to return to the same restaurant.