3 Effective Tips for Pulling Off a Successful Dim Sum Party

dim sum

Food is often the star of every celebration. In fact, your guests may be looking forward to munching on hearty meals, indulgent desserts, and overflowing drinks. But if you want a unique Chinese dining experience, consider throwing a dim sum party. 

Regardless of the special occasion, a dim sum party is an excellent way to entertain a large group of friends or family members. However, preparing a dim sum spread at home can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time. To help you pull off a successful dim sum party, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Plan the menu carefully

Make a list of the dim sum dishes you will add to your menu. Some common ones include dumplings of various types, such as boiled, steamed, and pan-fried. A selection of the popular choices are as follows: char siu or barbecued pork, bao buns, turnip cakes, congee, custard tarts, fried sesame balls, and steamed radish. You can even add chicken feet to the spread if you’re feeling daring. 

If you’re planning to prepare the dishes on your own, the easiest meals to make at home are spring rolls and shumai. You can find their respective wrappers in the freezer section of any Asian grocery store. 

On the other hand, you can opt for pre-made dumplings and steamed buns or order from your favorite dim sum restaurant if you don’t have time to cook. This way, you can still share your love for dim sum with your friends and loved ones even if time isn’t on your side.

  • Serve family-style dim sum

Dim sum is all about sharing, so it’s best to serve it family-style, where dishes come out as they are ready. If you’re worried about doing it incorrectly, you don’t have to because there really is no right or wrong way to serve it. Just make sure to prepare enough for your guests to ensure everyone is satisfied. As long as you have more meals on the table, you are likely to have more fun, and you can make their tummies and taste buds happy.

There is no particular sequence to eating when it comes to dim sum. It means you can choose any dish you want when the cart comes. You can even sneak a bite on your dessert and then go back to consuming savory dishes.

  • Make your dim sum spread presentable

Make your dim sum spread Instagram-worthy using large bamboo baskets lined with bamboo or banana leaves as your table settings. You can also use spices, including cumin, star anise, cinnamon, and coriander, as part of displays when presenting the dishes on platters. 

Since many are steamed, you can keep a lid on top to keep your food warm while making the spread presentable. Don’t forget to add chopsticks and spoons to complete your beautiful tablescape!

Conclusion

Whether you are celebrating the New Year or simply having an intimate get-together, hosting a dim sum party at home lets you create unforgettable memories with your loved ones and have an enjoyable dining experience. You don’t have to hire professionals to pull off a successful party. All you have to do is follow the tips listed above so you can hold a celebration that is one for the books.

If you’re looking for a restaurant offering dim sum in Houston, then you’ve come to the right place. Complete your menu with tasty dishes from Ocean Palace. We have noodles, dumplings, clams, and more. Order now to enjoy Chinese food delivery or takeout with your guests!

Food and Eating Rituals in the Chinese Culture – A Guide

eating rituals chinese culture

Meals are more than just something to eat in many countries. This is especially true in China, where their true culture can be found in the food. Aside from the meals themselves, how they are eaten also reflects their traditions. If you are interested in exploring more about food and eating rituals in Chinese culture, use this article as your guide.

The Etiquette at a Chinese Dinner Table

Household

Start your meal with the dishes that are nearest to you. Use your chopsticks to add several servings to your plate before passing the dish to the person sitting next to you. When placing some pieces to your plate, make sure to never dig around looking for a specific piece of food because it is rude and unhygienic.

In addition, talking about one’s feelings or expressing affection can generally be difficult. However, family members from Chinese households found a way to show that they care about each other by placing a particularly good piece of food on their loved one’s plate.

Banquet or Formal Dinner

A formal dinner or banquet typically contains 12-16 dishes on the table. You can expect to be served with several cold dishes, like fruit or other items usually served chilled or at room temperature. There will also be 8-10 dishes of heated food items. On the other hand, very expensive or rare dishes are considered an honor to the guests.

Meal Time 

Meals convey the family hierarchy in China. For instance, the head of the household or the most esteemed guest will generally sit in the spot that faces the entrance to the dining area. The next important members will be seated to the left and to the right, and this hierarchy will continue on around the table. In other words, the youngest family member ends up directly across from the oldest.

The more traditional Chinese families hold respect and duty in high regard during meal times. After everyone has been seated, the youngest member will invite the eldest to enjoy the meal in the more traditional families. The best dishes will be served directly in front of the head of the family or guests. The head of the family will also be the first person to pick up their chopsticks and start the meal.

At the End of the Meal

After eating, the members will place their chopsticks neatly to the side of their bowl or plate. Chopsticks should never be left stuck inside the unfinished food or up from a rice bowl because it is seen as disrespectful. It is also against the proper etiquette to stick chopsticks up from a bowl at the dinner table because it invokes leaving incense on the altar of a dead ancestor.

Conclusion

The rules of eating etiquette may have changed over the years in the Chinese household, but some of their food and eating rituals remain to show a glimpse of what it means to be Chinese. So the next time you visit a Chinese dim sum restaurant or share a meal with a family in China, remember the information mentioned in this guide so you can have a more meaningful dining experience.

If you’re wanting to try a Chinese dining experience, order from Ocean Palace Restaurant. We serve Chinese seafood and dim sum in Houston

What Dumplings Say About Chinese Culture and Traditions

chinese dumplings

Dumplings are the go-to dish when it comes to Chinese food. There is no Chinese restaurant without this beloved dish, and people from all over the world cannot get enough of it. Whether it is for simple occasions, such as the approaching Chinese Lunar New Year, the presence of dumplings is a must. It is not just because of its great taste, but because of its meaning in Chinese culture. 

If you are curious about why dumplings are so unique, here is what you need to know.

The Start of Dumpling in China

A Chinese legend says that, in the Han Dynasty, a Traditional Chinese Medicine physician named Zhang Zhongjian came back to his ancestral village one winter and noticed that his fellow villagers were suffering from frostbite, particularly in their ears. A disease was gradually becoming an epidemic.

As a way to help, Zhang Zhongjian created a meal for these people. He used some scrap dough and filled it with mutton, chili, and some healing herbs. He shaped them to look like ears, boiled them, and gave them to his neighbors. 

After a few days, the frostbite was gone, and the epidemic was under control. Everyone loved his creation, so they decided to recreate it and keep the tradition alive. 

A Symbol of Love and Togetherness

Other theories of history say that dumplings were created to stretch out a small amount of food and feed more people. Having a small portion of meat wrapped in dough is not enough to make anyone full, but if you add vegetables and seasoning, the food would be filling enough for the tummy. 

Every Chinese Lunar New Year, Chinese families would serve different types and shapes of dumplings. Family members would join together to create this incredible food while catching up and exchanging stories. They would spend a memorable time together as they prepare the filling and do the wrap. By working together, a family could make enough dumplings to feed a lot of people. Once they are done and served, everyone can enjoy the food. 

Placing different dumplings together also has a symbolic meaning. It represents the value that Chinese people give to working and staying together. They say that the more you eat them together, the better your bond will become. 

A Symbol of Better Year Ahead

There is another tradition that Chinese people do every New Year. As previously mentioned, Chinese families would serve different kinds and types of dumplings every New Year. If any family member bites down on a gold coin in their New Year dumpling, that person is bound to have significant wealth in the coming year. 

However, this tradition does not mean that there is indeed a gold coin hidden in one of the dumplings. Chinese people create a special yellow-tinged dumpling to represent gold and wealth. It has been a tradition for centuries that is still implemented in the present. Having a bite of this yellow-tinged dumpling is a symbol of aligning yourself with wealth and prosperity.

Conclusion

Dumplings are a much-loved food not just because of their rich flavor but because of the rich history and culture. The next time you have a bite of this universally loved snack, remember that you would be enjoying food that is highly valued across the world. 

Need some excellent Houston dim sum after reading this article? You can order from us at Ocean Palace Restaurant. We are the largest dim sum restaurant in the area, offering various choices for any craving. Enjoy steamed, fried, dessert version, or Bao dim sum. Visit us today or order through our delivery partners. 

5 Must-Have Dim Sum Dishes for Chinese New Year – Our Guide

dim sum ocean palace

The Chinese New Year is fast approaching. Certain dishes are eaten during the celebration for their symbolic meaning. For instance, lucky food is served during the 16-day festival season to bring good luck for the coming year.

One of the best ways to celebrate this special occasion is with dim sum, a traditional Chinese food consisting of bite-sized dishes typically served on small plates or in bamboo steamer baskets. Here are some dishes you can add to your Chinese New festivities:

  • Spring rolls

If your major goal for this year is to grow your finances, consider making spring rolls part of your celebration. They have a cylindrical shape and golden-yellow color that resemble gold bars, representing the wish for prosperity in the coming year.

This Cantonese dim sum dish is easy to prepare. All you need for fillings is meat, vegetables, or something sweet. The fillings should be wrapped in thin dough wrappers and then fried. On the other hand, you can opt to order spring rolls from a dim sum restaurant near you for your convenience.

  • Glutinous rice dumplings

Dumplings are common because they are a part of daily Chinese meals, but they take on a special meaning during Chinese New Year. Some families even gather to make this dish into the night. 

One popular dumpling variety is the glutinous rice cake, a lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Its main ingredients include sticky rice, sugar, Chinese dates, chestnuts, and lotus leaves.

Glutinous rice cake symbolizes raising oneself taller in each coming year. It also resembles money pouches or gold ingots, so it represents good fortune. It can imply promotions at work, better grades in school, and a general improvement in life.

  • Sweet rice balls

A Chinese New Year celebration won’t be complete without sweet rice balls, the main food for China’s Lantern Festival. In fact, families in South China eat them throughout the Spring Festival. They are associated with reunion and family togetherness, which is why the Chinese highly favor them during the New Year celebration. 

Sweet rice balls are a hot dish that usually contains a sweet filling and is boiled in water. Some families also get together to make this dessert and serve it during winter.

  • Longevity noodles 

Longevity noodles are a lucky food traditionally served at Chinese New Year’s feasts. They are uncut, longer than regular noodles, and served either fried on a plate or boiled in a bowl. This dish symbolizes a wish for longevity. An ancient Chinese belief states that long noodles are the secret to a long life, so they shouldn’t be cut as you eat them.

  • Turnip cakes

Another must-have Chinese New Year dish is turnip cakes. This dim sum dish is a savory cake made with grated turnip and is steam-cooked then pan-fried until crispy before serving. It sounds similar to the phrase “good luck,” making it a welcome addition to the celebration.

Conclusion

Dim sum dishes play an important role in Chinese New Year celebrations as they symbolize luck, good fortune, prosperity, and longevity for the coming year. Make your festivities extra memorable and special by enjoying the dishes listed above. 

If you have limited time or ingredients to cook, you can always opt to order from a Chinese restaurant like ours to enjoy tasty dishes without the hassle of preparing them yourself.

If you’re looking for dim sum in Houston for your Chinese New Year celebration, then you’ve come to the right place. Ocean Palace is the largest dim sum restaurant in the city. We offer a wide selection of snack-sized portions of dumplings, rice noodle rolls, and more. Order online now!

Sticky Rice FAQs – Everything You Need to Know About Sticky Rice

sticky rice dim sum

If you have ever eaten in an Asian restaurant, you have most likely heard about sticky rice. If you haven’t tasted it yet, you have to give it a try! Sticky rice is also known as glutinous rice and is widely popular among many Asian cuisines. In Chinese cuisine, it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. If you are interested to know more about sticky rice, how it tastes and the nutritional benefits it provides, you’re reached the right place.

Sticky Rice FAQs: Everything You Need to Know About Sticky Rice

If you are curious as to what sticky rice tastes like, how to cook with it, and its nutritional value, read the answers to these frequently asked questions!

What does sticky rice taste like?

Sticky rice is also called sweet rice, because of its distinct taste that is subtly sweeter than other types of rice. However, even if it has a hint of sweetness, the sweet taste will not overpower the flavor of the food that will be served alongside it. 

In traditional Chinese cuisine, sticky rice may be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Sticky rice is delicious and adds a depth of flavor that can cut through intense and distinct tastes and flavors of other food. Another reason people use sticky rice in their dishes is to add a different texture to a dish. 

Where can I buy sticky rice?

Asian staples such as rice have been gaining popularity in recent decades. Sticky rice is becoming more widely available in regular grocery stores, however, if your local grocery store does not have it, you will most likely be able to find it in your Chinese or Asian grocery store. 

How can I incorporate sticky rice into my cooking?

If you are looking for a way to add sticky rice to the food you prepare for your family, you can serve it on its own as a side dish or you can add it to the dish directly. If you are cooking congee, which is like a rice soup, you need to add the uncooked rice to the pot during the cooking process. However, if you are serving it as a side dish, you can cook the rice on its own, following the directions on the pack. 

What are the nutritional benefits of sticky rice?

Sticky rice has a very low-fat content (close to none at all), and it also has a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. It is also very rich in fiber, which can aid in proper digestion.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a delicious and nutrient-rich side dish, you can try sticky rice! Although it is said to have a sweeter taste than other types of rice, its taste is versatile. It can act as a palette that can enhance other tastes and flavors of the other dishes that are on your plate. 

Sticky rice can give you a different taste and unexpected texture that you can easily customize and play around with. Although the cooking process is fairly straightforward, there are many people who are hesitant to try cooking sticky rice for fear that they might do it wrongly. If you are one of these people, it may be a better idea to visit a restaurant that specializes in serving dishes that use sticky rice before you try it yourself. 

This way, you will be able to see examples of how it may be served, as well as get the chance to ask the waiter or even the chef for tips, should they not be too busy to entertain your questions.

If you are ready to taste the ultimate sticky rice, visit Ocean Palace Houston. We are a Chinese restaurant located in Hong Kong City Mall, in the heart of Chinatown. We serve the best dishes using sticky rice that will satisfy your curiosity and cravings. Come and dine with us today!

Taking a Bite Out of 3 Types of Chinese Dumplings You Should Know

types of dumplings

Nothing beats indulging in delicious food you can eat on the go, especially when it comes to culinary innovations like dumplings. A single bite can introduce heavenly flavors to your taste buds, but the best part is that it doesn’t offer a one-dimensional kind of delicious as there are different fillings you can explore. 

It can combine the savory essence of pork with the light, sweet, and freshness of shrimp all wrapped in delicate skin, but you can take the umami to greater heights by going for a combination of minced beef, pork, chicken, and more. 

Beyond the filling, you can also play around with different cooking methods like fried, steamed, soup, or boiled, all of which can bring out unique yet equally flavorful results. If you’re craving to expand your knowledge on dumplings, the list below explores different ways to enjoy China’s favorite finger-food: 

  1. Xia Long Bao 

One of the fan-favorites hailing from Shangai, China, Xia Long Bao can take the senses to a toothsome roller coaster ride as it introduces a whole new level of comfort food. The thin wrapper holds juicy pork inside, while the gelatinous soup turns into liquid gold that can ease the soul once it goes under the steamer. 

People love to pair the heart-warming dish with a dash of vinegar and ginger to brighten up the experience, while the soup is poured out by poking a small hole in the wrapper. For the piece de resistance, follow it up with a whole bite of the dumpling!

  1. Jiao Zi 

Rising on top as one of the classics, this form of dumpling is iconic throughout the world. Whether it’s in the streets or in fancy restaurants, a Chinese meal won’t be complete without a hearty serving of Jiao Zi, which can come as steamed, boiled, or fried. 

The best part is that it can cater to different cravings, whether it’s the freshness of vegetables, the light, umami taste of seafood, or the deeper nuances of minced beef, pork, or chicken. It’s also a traditional dish often served as a celebratory feast during Lunar New Year, and the best way to enjoy the dish is to dab it in chili oil for a spicy kick. 

  1. Siu Mai

Another popular contender to elevate your taste buds, Siu Mai is a perennial favorite that plays around with the complementary flavors of pork and shrimp. Every dumpling is often topped with a garnish of orange roe, giving it a hint of saltiness that makes every bite incredibly addicting. 

The Bottom Line: Indulging in the Gastronomic Flavors of Different Types of Chinese Dumplings 

Dumplings are some of the best finger-foods in the world as it can satisfy your taste buds in various ways – be it to fill an empty stomach with a hearty bowl of dumpling soup, or help beat the afternoon slump with freshly-fried shark’s fin dumpling. There’s plenty of combinations and cooking styles to discover, and the list above is only the start!

Why Dine with Us? 

Are you craving to indulge in authentic Chinese cuisine? Hungry locals and travelers looking for the best Chinese restaurant in Houston can order up Asian favorites here with us at Ocean Palace Restaurant. 

We can whip up traditional recipes that are sure to delight your taste buds – from dim sum delicacies, seafood, congee, and more classics. We also deliver during the pandemic, so check out our menu today and let us serve you on your doorstep.

Dim Sum 101 – Our Guide to China’s Traditional Brunch Meal

dim sum 101

When you think of Chinese food, one of the first meals that will pop in your head is dim sum. Dim sum is loved by many worldwide because they come in a variety of types, flavors, colors, and shapes.

Essentially, a dim sum is a Canton-style meal that includes steamed dishes usually prepared in small, bite-sized portions and is presented and eaten family-style. When you browse through the dim sum menu, you’ll find that it includes a plethora of dim sum, including buns and dumplings filled with various ingredients from fish, meat, and chicken to vegetables and fruits. 

Dim sum is known to be China’s traditional brunch meal, and because of that, you’ll always find them in the top Chinese restaurants in Houston. Given the wide range of dim sum dishes, every person, even first-timers, will have a fantastic dim sum experience.

Do you want to learn more about dim sum? Stick around. You’ll find everything you need to know about dim sum right here: from its history and different types to how to order them. We’ll have you craving dim sum and dumplings by the end of this article!

A quick history on dim sum

Dim sum was believed to have originated in China’s Guangdong region before finding its way to Hong Kong. This Cantonese-style dish first began in tearooms where Silk Road traders and travelers would drop by for a meal before they continued traveling. This type of culture began to spread and gained popularity in other regions, especially in Hong Kong. 

Dim sum etiquette and how to order

To fully enjoy the dim sum experience, you need to eat dim sum the way it is traditionally done. First, you need to choose a tea since it will be the central part of the meal. And for proper tea etiquette, the person nearest to the pot will pour the tea for the guests before their cup.

Now it’s time to order some dim sum, and here is where the fun begins. You’ll notice that in the top Chinese restaurants, dim sum pushcarts roll out of the kitchens and are stacked with dumpling steamers and fried food dishes. When you’re ready to order, simply flag down the cart, mark the menu card on your table or tell the server what you wish to order. They will then unload your choices for you to enjoy.

Popular dim sum dishes 

  1. Shumai/Siu Mai/Shao Mai

This dim sum is wrapped in thin round wrappers and has different types of fillings, like pork, shrimp, or both, with vegetables and mushrooms. 

  1. Soup dumpling/Xiaolong Bao

Xiaolong Baos are delicate dumplings filled with hot broth and pork and are a dim sum staple. This is usually enjoyed with black vinegar and fresh ginger.

  1. Pork buns/Charsiu bao

One of the most loved dim sums is the pork bun or Charsiu bao. These white buns are stuffed with sticky and sweet barbecue-seasoned pork. 

  1. Rice noodle rolls/Cheong fun

Rice noodles are handmade steamed rice noodles rolled around meat or shrimp and served steamed or fried. 

  1. Egg tart/dan tat

Egg tarts are sweet and delicious custard-filled pastries that originated in Macau. This dim sum is perfect with a hot cup of Pu’er tea.

Conclusion

Because of its variety and simplicity, it’s no wonder that China’s traditional brunch meal is loved by so many. Now that you know dim sum’s origin story, how to order, and dim sum etiquette, it’s time for you to try it yourself. We did say you’ll start craving dim sum when you reach the end of this article, so head to the top Chinese restaurant in Houston, Ocean Palace, and satisfy your cravings with the best dim sum in town. 

Ocean Palace Restaurant has been around since 1999 and is located in the heart of Chinatown. If you’re looking for the top Chinese restaurant in Houston, you better head here! We offer delicious traditional Chinese dishes and dim sums that will surely satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more. Book a reservation today!

4 Important Tips and Tricks for Eating Dim Sum the Right Way

dim sum

Dim sum is now one of the most popular dishes ever to come out of China. There are so many variations of this dish that even the best Chinese restaurants would be hard-pressed to include them all. Each of the different kinds of dim sum are meant to be eaten in different ways, from the famed soup dumpling—known to locals as xiao long bao—to the classic steamed buns stuffed with pork. It is important to learn how to properly consume dim sum dishes, so that you can make the most out of every bite. 

To help you with that, we have designed this dim sum eating guide from the best Chinese restaurant in Houston. This can ensure that you have the best experience with every piece and every mouthful. With no further ado, here it is:

1 – Take smaller bites

Unlike sushi, dim sum is not meant to be gulped down in one bite. The flavors in these dishes are better when consumed slowly. 

More complex dishes like xiao long bao also have to be consumed carefully. Make sure to let the soup inside cool down before taking bites. Don’t be afraid to bite the tip and slurp the soup into your mouth. Slurping is not an etiquette violation in certain parts of Asia and is an indicator that you are neither wasting nor dissatisfied with your food. 

2 – Start small with the soy sauce

The best chinese restaurants always prepare their dim sum seasoned. In most cases, you wouldn’t need a sauce. If you do think you need a little bit of salt or heat, make sure to start small. Try it with just a little. After all, you can’t wash the soy sauce or the chili away, but you can always add more if it’s not enough. 

3 – Use the spoon

In China and other parts of Asia, spoons are more than just receptacles for broth and soup. It is perfectly acceptable to use these utensils to remove meat from bone and maneuver around dishes that can be more challenging to eat. If you are having trouble stabilizing your chopsticks, try to use your spoon to hold the food down while you try to remove chunks from it. 

4 – Do not share chopsticks

Much like the rules in eating etiquette in Western culture, a different set of utensils are used for serving and for eating. Never serve other people with your own chopsticks. The restaurant will likely provide a set of utensils for serving their dishes. 

Other chopstick rules involve never playing with them or poking the inside of your mouth with them. Do not stick them upright into your rice either, as this is done at funerals and is considered unlucky in other contexts.

Final thoughts

Eating dim sum should always be a satisfying experience. This means knowing how to eat them properly, and employing the right habits so that no morsel is wasted. At the end of the day, enjoying the food you buy is a sure sign you’ve gotten your money’s worth. 

If you’re looking for the best Chinese restaurant in Houston (and the best dim sum), give us at Ocean Palace Houston a call. We serve and deliver all kinds of dim sum to Chinese food lovers of all palates.