Friday, February 23, 2007
Chinese food is definitely one of the most popular cuisines around, yet it's so diverse because of the vast regional differences in China that most people have a very limited exposure to it. We thought we'd give everyone a quick overview on one of the more popular dining experiences in Chinese culture, which is Dim Sum. Surprisingly, it's a word that thrown around very often, yet most people haven't had a chance to experience Dim Sum.
Well, what is Dim Sum? It's a dining experience where you can order small appetizer like dishes a la carte. Dim Sum is part of Southern China's Cantonese fare, and Dim Sum in Cantonese can be essentially translated as "small snack". It's often eaten in the afternoons as a meal for lunch or brunch, and is extremely popular with Chinese families and group meals.
There's no menu to order from, but rather the dishes are rolled around the restaurant on carts, where the dishes are usually stacked on top of one another in bamboo steamers. The servers will come up to each table, lift the covers off the steamers and show you their selection, and then if you want to order it, you simply tell them. The dishes are categorized as small, medium, large, and special dishes. Cost is based on these categorizations, and will usually run from about $2-$4 for small to large. Special dishes cost around $6 and up. They'll then tick off your order on your bill based on the categorization of the dish.
The dishes usually have about 3-4 pieces of whatever you order. Usually they'll consist of various dumplings, buns, rolls, and other items. Dim Sum is meant to be shared, and with a piece or two of every dish, you get to sample a very wide variety of food.
The other important part of dim sum is tea. Dim Sum is meant to be eaten with tea, and is often referred to as "yum cha" as well. Yum Cha means "with tea." Most dim sum restaurants will offer jasmine or chrysantheum tea as the norm. Sit down, eat, drink some tea, and just gab the afternoon away with friends. Dim Sum is really just one great big enjoyable social experience.
So go ahead, give it a try if you've never before. In the next few days, we'll be introducing some of the more commonly ordered items from the dim sum carts. Yum Yum!