Dim sums are just some of the best food that the Chinese can ever come up with. Just imagine choice pieces of meat, seafood, or vegetables, cooked with various condiments, and then wrapped in rice or wheat sheets to be either steamed or fried.
Just like the food trucks appearing in the city streets, dim sum restaurants evolved from small road-side stands in China meant to refresh and provide snacks for tired or hungry travelers. Tea is the usual beverage served along with dim sum. Although dim sum was never meant to be the main meal, it has now evolved into the form we are familiar with today. Now, eating in a dim sum restaurant is more of a lively family or social affair.
With the bustling and hustling of dim sum servers, with their carts stacked high with various dishes in steaming bamboo baskets, is the norm in any restaurant, people might be unfamiliar with how to eat in such places.
Fortunately, it is not that hard to follow the proper etiquette’s required to dine in such places. One who eats in such a place wishes to enjoy himself, along with his friends. Together with a fast (and sometimes rude) service, relatively cheap prices, and a light atmosphere, dim sum dining has become the next best thing in unique dining.
These are some tips to enjoy the experience:
• It is with the tea, silly! – dining in a dim sum restaurant is never complete without tea. So go out of your way and treat yourself with the hot beverage. It is considered good manners for you to pour tea for your companions or tap the table as thanks when yours is filled. When the tea pot is empty, just flip the cover to signal the servers that you need a refill.
• Sharing is a must – dim sum dining is a social experience. It is best enjoyed when you eat with more people eat. When you and your family or friends order more than one kind of dish, you can try each other’s dishes. It is like a tasting adventure of sorts.
• Let them come – that is the rule when it comes to dim sum restaurants. When you dine the traditional way, the servers would usually offer you one as they pass by. If you do not see your favorite dish, then you could have one prepared in the kitchen. Just have your card ready for stamping when your basket comes in.
• Go cart-chasing – just in case you see the dish you want, but the cart is a bit far away, then it is perfectly fine to go get them. Just do not act rudely and hog all of the baskets to yourself.
• Rice, anyone? – dim sum is traditionally a snack item, but these days, people now consider it as a side dish for rice. It is a good way to satisfy yourself, and it also helps clean your palate after eating an especially savory dish. You can pour some sauce over it, although the plain one is preferable.
• Fork or chopsticks? – a traditional dim sum meal would use chopsticks to pick up the dim sum pieces, but it is perfectly all right to ask for a fork if you do not know how or not confident enough to use one. Extra tip: do not spear your dim sum or rice bowl with the chopsticks because it is considered rude. Just let it down horizontally beside the plate.
• Don’t forget the tip – even if you are paying at the cashier, it is considered good manners to leave a tip on the table as you leave. It establishes good relationships, and it serves as an incentive to the servers.