An Explainer on the Various Chinese Dumplings Out There

types of chinese dumplings

There’s a rather wide misconception among Westerners that all Chinese dumplings are the same based on their looks. This could not be farther from the truth. There can be multiple names for Chinese dim sum: their Cantonese name, Szechuan name, and even the romanized or pinyin name. If you think that’s rather dizzying in itself, get ready for this: every name has the possibility of being spelled differently. Yes, this is all for a single dumpling.

Are there really that many Chinese dumplings out there?

On a very general level, there are two broad categories when it comes to the conversation of Chinese dumplings. The first one is bao, which are dumplings that are shaped like purses and quite round. The second one is gao, which are dumplings that are shaped like a crescent.

There are a plethora of subcategories under both bao and gao. To begin with, not all wrappers of dim sum are the same. The most common ones are made of rice or wheat, but there are other kinds! 

Filling varies as well, and there are also different styles of cooking dumplings: fried, steamed, or boiled.

What are the most common Chinese dumpling types available in the market?

  • Xiao Long Bao

These round, thick dumplings are also known as “soup dumplings.” Their wrapper is usually wheat and crimped at the top. While the moniker has the word soup in it, that’s not necessarily what’s in it. There’s chopped cooked pork or crab, alongside pork trimmings rich in collagen. During the steaming process, the collagen becomes liquefied, creating a savory, rich broth.

  • Siu Mai

Pronounced as “shoo-my,” this dumpling is shaped like a round basket and has an open top. It has a thin wheat dough wrapper. Like many other Chinese dumplings, there are many different takes on siu mai across the entirety of China and even other Asian countries. However, in the traditional Cantonese sense, siu mai is made with shrimp and ground pork mixed with green onions, ginger, mushrooms, and similar ingredients.

The usual characteristic of siu mai is an orange dot. This is typically made with the use of a carrot or fish roe. Sometimes, it’s a green dot, which stems from a pea. Usual siu mai preparation is through the use of a steamer basket made with bamboo.

  • Jiaozi

Pronounced as “jow-zee,” these are arguably the most typical Chinese dumplings out there. The opaque wrappers are made with wheat dough. The filling of this crescent dumpling is typically a mix of cabbage, scallions, and ground pork. The dipping sauce it’s served with is made of vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

Jiaozi is more generic than most other terms. Pan-fried, it’s referred to as jian jiao or guo tie. Most Westerners also refer to this as potstickers. When it’s boiled, the term for reference becomes zheng jiao. Shui jiao is what’s used for when it’s boiled.


Contrary to popular belief, Chinese dumplings are not all the same. There are two categories at the very basic core, but those are extremely general and wide: bao and gao. Some of the most common Chinese dumpling types are xiao long bao, siu mai, and jiaozi. 

Looking for the best Chinese dim sum delivery in Houston? Check out Ocean Palace Restaurant! We’ve been in the heart of Chinatown at the Hong Kong City Mall since 1999, serving Chinese seafood and dim sum.

A Brief Guide on the 6 Essential Chinese Dipping Sauces

chinese dipping sauces

One look at the Ocean Palace’s menu, and it’s easy to see why sauces hold such an important place in Chinese cuisine. Indeed, the different types of sauces impart unique flavors to these dishes and take them to the next level.

Now, it’s understandable if you aren’t familiar with these sauces. There are quite a few of them, some of which are used exclusively in Chinese restaurants. If you want to familiarize yourself with these sauces, then we have just the thing for you. 

Here’s a brief guide on six essential Chinese dipping sauces that you’ll most likely encounter in Chinese restaurants!

Hot Chili Oil

Hot chili oil is made from vegetable oil that has been infused with chili peppers. In essence, any chili pepper can be used to make hot chili oil. The type and number of peppers used in making this sauce can lead it to vary wildly when it comes to its spiciness. It would be best to try a little bit of the oil first to see how spicy it is before using a lot of it all at once. While it can be used on its own to add a little kick to noodles and other types of dishes, you can also add it to other sauces to make them spicier. It’s mostly used with soy sauce and other hoisin-based sauces.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce has been used in Chinese cooking for over 1,000 years. This classic dipping sauce is a staple in Chinese restaurants, as it is served with dim sum dishes and is used together with vinegar, ginger, and chili oil. What’s great about soy sauce is that it offers a lot of savory umami flavor all while being incredibly versatile. Essentially, you can tweak soy sauce according to your specific taste by adding in other condiments!

Sweet and Sour Sauce

The sweet and sour sauce is one of the most popular Chinese sauces, and it can even be found in many non-Chinese restaurants as well as being prominently featured in Chinese American cuisine. The sweet and acidic flavor profile of this sauce pairs well with rich and succulent friend dishes. Sweet and sour pork, chicken, and fish are crowd favorites in modern establishments.

Plum Sauce

Plum sauce, or more popularly known as duck sauce, is made of plums, apricots, sugar, and spices. Similar to the sweet and sour sauce, the plum sauce is often used with fried dishes like egg rolls and spring rolls. Plum sauce got its nickname as Westerners initially thought this sauce was served with Peking duck.

Hot Mustard

Speaking of sauces for egg rolls, hot mustard is also a Chinese restaurant mainstay. But how is this different from regular mustard? Well, the flavor profiles are the same but as the name suggests, hot mustard has an added kick to it. Like mustard, hot mustard has a crisp and tart flavor that shoots straight up your sinuses. 

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a thick sweet sauce that’s usually served with Mandarin pancakes, Peking duck, and Mu Shu pork. All of these are classic Chinese dishes that are popular in Chinese restaurants in Beijing. Its flavor, like plum sauce, is sweet but without the tartness, and this is why many people are often confused by the two sauces!


Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the many wonderful and tasty sauces in Chinese cuisine. Keep this guide in mind the next time you find yourself in a Chinese restaurant so that you can get the most out of the experience.

If you’re looking for a Chinese restaurant in Houston, then you’re at the right place. Ocean Palace Chinese Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant serves the best dim sum in Houston. We have a huge selection of snack-sized portions of different types of dim sum for you to enjoy. For a complete list of our offerings, check out our menu and order from us today!

Why Congee Is Fondly Known as the Chicken Soup of Asia

chinese congee soup

Chicken soup is known for offering a sense of warmth and for being absolutely yummy. What some may not know is that there is an Asian alternative: congee. Congee is a traditional rice porridge that aids in recovery when you’re feeling tired, sick, or cold. It can even fill the need for comfort food. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the highlights in the menu of the best Chinese food delivery options in Houston.

How is congee made?

Congee is actually rather simple to make: rice is boiled in a large amount of broth or water over low heat. Wait for the rice to turn mushy and break down. It can be eaten plain with a bit of soy sauce or salt, acting as a fantastic complement to any meal. However, it can be made into a main course by adding tofu, vegetables, and/or meat. While there are a number of savory options for congee, it should be noted that it can also be sweet.

Typically, there is no set time of day or particular meal that congee must be eaten at. However, it’s become a favorite choice when it comes to breakfast or dim sum. Youtiao (fried dough sticks) is dipped in them by many people, something akin to how a slice of bread is eaten with chicken soup.

Why is congee so popular?

Congee has been prepared by the Chinese since ancient times. It has since grown popular in a number of other Asian countries like Malaysia, Korea, and even India. The name of the dish, “congee,” stems from a Tamil word: “kanji.” In Mandarin, the dish is actually called “zhou”; in Cantonese, it’s “jook.”

In Western culture, spiritual healing and comfort are symbolized by chicken soup. A great example of that mindset is the healing and inspirational story compilations “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” which are wildly successful books. The cultural identity of Asians has also seen the entry of chicken soup, with songs and poems about how it heals.

There are several benefits of healing that come with chicken soup that it actually shares with congee. This includes weight loss, fighting off colds, and assistance with digestion.

There’s even a Southern Cantonese song that lists many of congee’s vital healing properties:


  • For better memory – Cook with egg yolk
  • For fair skin – Cook with dates
  • To dispel heat – Make with bean
  • To reduce white hair and strengthen the kidneys – Add walnut kernel
  • To treat heart vacuity – Boil with dragon eye fruit


As previously mentioned, there are a number of ways to make congee. This means a number of varieties are available. This includes celery congee, which helps the large intestine and is cooling in the summer. Additionally, there’s aduki bean congee, whose properties are diuretic.


When you’re craving the best Chinese food in Houston, don’t forget to get congee. Essentially, it’s rice boiled in a broth or water, making a simple yet lovely soup. It’s considered the chicken soup of Asia because of how comforting and healing it can be.

Looking for a Chinese restaurant in Houston that serves congee and other Asian comfort food? Visit Ocean Palace Restaurant today! We’re located in the heart of Chinatown at the Hong Kong City Mall.

The Origin of Dim Sum: Good-to-Know Facts for Dim Sum Lovers

origin of dim sum

When thinking about Chinese food, dim sum always comes to mind, right? This popular Chinese food has been loved in many parts of the world—being such an iconic staple that a meal at a Chinese restaurant or a Chinese takeout would feel incomplete without it! Let this article tell you some interesting facts about your favorite food if you are a dim sum lover.

Defining Dim Sum: What Makes It Different from Other Chinese Food Items

Dim sum is a bite-sized dumpling filled with varying fillings. It is often served on small plates or steamed in bamboo baskets, along with other Chinese snacks, and accompanied by tea. Typically, this snack is shared by a group of friends or family members. 

A standard dim sum menu consists of different types of snacks. There are steamed buns, dumplings, and noodle rolls. Each comes with various fillings and ingredients, making them a well-loved meal by many! Whether you love animal meat or prefer vegetables, there’s a bite for every taste palette.

When you bite on a dim sum meal, you will experience the same burst of ingredients into your mouth. The collection of food lets you enjoy savory and sweet tastes combined. 

Its Origin: How Dim Sum Come to Life

According to history, there were once Chinese travelers who were traveling along the Silk Road. Since it was a long journey, they needed to find places to rest and recover. Most of the time, they would stop in tea houses where they would be served wonderful and different teas. 

During that time, doctors were passionate about the benefits of tea to one’s health. That is why drinking it was well-encouraged. Back then, it was believed to aid digestion. Hence, the tea houses started serving food in small portions to pair with their tea and convince more people to try their drinks. That was when the pairing of dim sum with tea began, and Yum Cha’s tradition took off!

Understanding the Yum Cha Tradition

Yum Cha is a Cantonese phrase that literally means “to drink tea.” Pair it with the dim sum, which translates to “touch the heart,” and you get a heartful meal and drink!

Every time dim sum is served, there will always be a teapot that gets refilled every time. In Chinese tradition, dim sum is enjoyed during brunch time, and often, it is accompanied by loud and endless conversations. 

If you are a waiter serving a family having dim sum and yum cha, you should know when they need refills of tea without them asking. The last thing you would want is to interrupt their casual conversations or family discussions!

One of the effective signals that were developed then was placing the lid on the teapot side, letting it rest against the handle. Once the waiter sees this, they would know that the group wants a tea refill. 

Other Important Things to Know about Dim Sum and Yum Cha

If you want to enjoy your dim sum and yum cha while following the traditions of the Chinese, here are some essential things to remember:

  • Never reach out to a dim sum meal far from you. Instead, ask someone else to pass it to you. 
  • When someone pours you some tea, you express your gratitude by tapping the table. The method of tapping varies depending on your marital status. If you are single, use your index finger to tap the table. If you are married, tap using your two fingers (the index and middle fingers). 


Dim sum is a well-loved dish throughout the world. Traditionally, Chinese people enjoy eating them from early morning to afternoon, but anyone can enjoy them now until nighttime. Therefore, it does not matter when you crave for them; you can enjoy dim sum whenever you want! To make the experience complete, always have a cup of tea with it.

Are you looking for a dim sum restaurant in Houston? You are on the right page. Ocean Palace Chinese Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant serves the best dim sum in Houston. We have a wide variety of snack-sized portions of steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried, and baked dim sums you can enjoy. Check our complete dim sum menu, and we can deliver them to you!

Dim Sum Eating 101: How to Eat Chicken Feet Right

how to eat chicken feet

Chicken feet—they’re on the menu at your favorite dim sum restaurant, and it’s one of their most popular dishes. You’re itching to try it, but you’re not sure how to eat it. Don’t worry; eating chicken feet isn’t that difficult, and it’s a delicious experience. Keep in mind: there’s no graceful way to eat chicken feet.

What Is Chicken Feet?

Chicken feet are basically the chicken’s feet, a delicacy in Asian countries like China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. There are many recipes for chicken feet, but the most common method is having them braised and marinated in black bean sauce topped with red chili slices and chopped spring onions. It undergoes a three-step process: deep-frying, braising, and simmering in the sauce. 

Don’t get it wrong, though. Deep frying will not make the feet crisp, but it’s intended to make the skin puffy and the cartilage gelatinous. Thanks to deep-frying, it makes it easier to separate the cartilage from the tiny bones. 

How to Eat Chicken Feet

To eat chicken feet, it’s best to use chopsticks or your hands to get a good grip on the chicken feet. Remember, don’t eat the bones and nails; the rest is edible. 

Get a grip on the foot and bite off the toes between the joints—do it one toe at a time. Chew off the skin and suck the bone, but make sure you spit the bone out. 

When you have finished eating the toes, move on to the little pad on the foot, which contains the most flesh. Eat it like how you did with the joints—chew off the skin and suck all the cartilage off the bone. 

Other Things to Know About Chicken Feet

Aside from marinating and serving chicken feet, some chefs use them to make stock because they make a beautiful golden broth that gels beautifully. 

In Hong Kong, chicken feet are called “phoenix claws” and are served in two types: sweet and sour chicken feet and braised chicken feet. 

Chicken feet are tasty, but they also have cosmetic benefits. They contain a lot of collagen, which led Asians to believe that eating chicken feet will give them more youthful-looking skin. This is also the reason chicken feet and peanuts soup is popular among Chinese women who want to achieve glowing skin. 

Chicken Feet Eating Done Right

There really is no right or wrong way to eat chicken feet. Some chicken feet eaters would consume the whole thing and spit out the bones and nails. Others do take their time, moving from one toe to another, as mentioned in this post. 

What you need to know is that there’s no graceful way to eat chicken feet. It will contort your face, which is why it’s not something you should order on a first date. 


Eating chicken feet is a delightful experience, and most people find them delicious. It’s natural to hesitate at first, but when you sink your teeth into it, you will appreciate its flavor and how enjoyable it is to eat. Go ahead and try it; it’s an experience!

For the best dim sum in Houston, TX, visit us here at Ocean Palace Houston. We have delicious chicken feet and other dim sum to satisfy your cravings.

3 Tips to Enjoy Xiao Long Bao: A Guide for First-Timers

xiao long bao

If you are looking for one of the most interesting and heartwarming dim sum experiences, then you have got to try xiao long bao. It’s a steamed pork dumpling loaded with a soup-like filling that is first frozen into to resemble jelly. Once food orders are placed, the filling is placed inside a dough, pleated delicately, heated slowly, and served warm, allowing you to enjoy the rich, porky broth. One bite lets out a savory liquid that is light yet packed with flavor. 

Since the preparation itself is miraculous, you may be wondering how you can eat it properly without getting any liquids on your clothes. You may also be worried since this is your first time trying it. Thus, refer to the following tips to ensure you do so correctly and make the most of this delicious treat: 

  • Use your chopsticks and soup spoon 

Since most dim sum is consumed with chopsticks, you may be wondering how the typical xiao long bao can be eaten without making the filling leak out since the dough is thin. Additionally, if you even attempt to grab it quickly with chopsticks, accidents are bound to happen. Luckily, you are always given a soup spoon. It enables you to get the dim sum, take small bites, sip the filling, and eat the remains. 

Alternatively, you can eat the whole xiao long bao in one bite, but doing this may not be polite. Thus, you can grab a small empty bowl, place your dim sum there, pierce it with your chopsticks, drink the filling, and eat what’s left. Whatever method you go for, you can enjoy your first xiao long bao and may even come back for seconds and thirds! 

  • Don’t attempt to eat a hot xiao long bao

The general rule of thumb for serving xiao long bao in Chinese restaurants is that they wait for 3-4 minutes before serving it. It’s like some final cooling time to allow the broth to cool. However, it may be too hot for your liking, especially since it’s your first attempt at it. Therefore, you should be patient and spend your time doing something else. 

One of the things you can do while waiting for your xiao long bao is to prepare the dark vinegar-ginger dipping sauce. These condiments are usually on the table or served with your dim sum orders. You can also get a glass of water ready to ensure you are prepared to offset the xiao long bao’s warm broth with something cold.  Before you know it, your xiao long bao is ready for your enjoyment! 

  • Take this opportunity to try other dim sums

Since you are about to try something soupy and rich, you may want to balance your meal with dim sums that are a great contrast to what you are having. For example, you can have some fried dim sum, like the pan-fried turnip cake and fried shrimp balls. They are delicious and have a soft yet slightly dense texture. This way, you can have a deeper culinary experience and sample new things! 


Xiao long baos are a great introduction to Chinese cuisine, and you can enjoy them easily if you know how to eat them properly. Fortunately, you now know what you have to do. You just have to ensure you can find the finest local restaurant in your area. Try it today! 

Are you looking for the best authentic dim sum Houston has to offer? We at Ocean Place Restaurant can provide you with that. We are located in the heart of Chinatown and have been serving delicious Chinese seafood and favorites since 1999. Dine-in or submit your order online to put your xiao long bao skills to the test and try other great food!

What You Need to Know About Going on a Dim Sum Adventure

dim sum adventure

If you’re a culinary enthusiast ready to go on a food adventure of a lifetime, you likely know about dim sum as a choice to go on a fun palatable experience. If you have yet to make a trip to a real dim sum restaurant, your local Chinatown district likely has various choices for a food trip. However, Texas residents have access to Ocean Palace Restaurant, which has been around since the pre-2000s and is one of the best places to get dim sum in Houston. 

Dim sum is a traditional Chinese brunch that is very light on the stomach and has tons of flavor. It has links to the ancient art of drinking tea in teahouses, which had these small dishes of easy-to-eat snacks available to travelers and traders along the Silk Road. Additionally, they were served in small teahouses near the rural provinces, which were a common resting domain for weary farmers who wanted to have afternoon conversations. 

How Dim Sum Evolved

Eventually, the dim sum culture made its way to the western world naturally through immigrants during the 19th century. Chinese immigrants who came from the Canton region and moved to the East and West coasts put up their own “teahouse” inspired dim sum restaurants for the world to try. Many people enjoyed eating these snacks for brunch because it was light, yet filling enough to make it through to the afternoon and dinner time. 

These dishes were served with tea, which is warm, aids digestion, and cleanses the palate after each menu offering. Originally, tea time was never meant to be mixed with meals, but science prevailed and showed that tea would not lead to excessive weight gain when combined with food. Overall, the centuries of dim sum have developed it into a whole culture that is popular with many Americans, as Chinatowns all over the country are flourishing with various restaurants. 

What’s in Dim Sum?

Your local dim sum restaurant usually serves either steamed or deep-fried varieties of this snack. They come in small steamers that are enough for a single person. Steamed varieties include pork spareribs, pork buns, and shrimp or pork dumplings. Fried types include spring rolls and even dumplings. The more daring foodie can even try chicken feet and other more exotic variants and foods. After your meal, you’ll be given a choice of desserts. Some people love the egg custard tarts, while others love mango pudding. Depending on the teahouse’s specialty, they’ll serve their own respective teas. However, the standard tea used is a very tasty green tea. 

How You Order Dim Sum

You typically get seated in the restaurant and you have an order form that’s monitored by the servers of your table. Then, you’ll see a dim sum cart pushed around and you just choose from the menu, which will come with a steamer case that looks like a small woven basket. Dim sum is typically served in the order from lighter dishes to heavier ones until it’s time for dessert. Starting with deep-fried dishes isn’t always advisable because of the oil content making you full and having an effect on your empty stomach. Starting light will help you work your way to heavier dishes without surprising your body. 


Dim sum in Houston is a great activity to go restaurant hunting with friends. Overall, you can order your own respective dishes and enjoy them based on your taste buds. You don’t have to deal with dishes that don’t look appetizing to you, which is why dim sum is amazing for many people. It’s also very good for your health because the dishes are lightly cooked (sans the deep-fried items!) and are served with a good cup of tea. 

Ocean Palace Restaurant is the best place to get dim sum in Houston, Texas. If you’re looking for incredible seafood and hearty servings of these incredible snacks with tea, look no further. We’ve been serving the Houston people incredible food since 1999, and we’re ready to keep giving you the best Chinese food in Texas. Visit us today to go on an incredible tasting experience!

What You Must Know About Eating Dim Sum and Proper Etiquette

dim sum

Whether you are a food enthusiast or not, you may already be familiar with dim sum. They are a mix of savory and sweet buns, dumplings, and congees. These finger foods are served communal style, meaning they are served in small plates from wheeled carts. They are also perfect for enjoying family get-togethers, corporate brunches, and more. 

If you are planning to head to a dim sum restaurant, you must observe the proper etiquette to make the most out of your eating experience. Consider the following: 

  • Learn the codes

There are certain gestures that are used when having dim sum. For instance, when you want to say thank you to someone who serves you tea, you can tap the table twice with your index and middle fingers together. It is an alternative to a bow, which shows your appreciation. 

Another code you can use is to leave the lid of the teapot ajar. It’s a way of requesting the waiter for a refill if you run out of hot water or tea for your table. By learning these signs, you can improve your dining experience and communicate better with the restaurant staff.

  • Eat mindfully

When having dim sum for the first time, you may be excited about trying all the varieties. Be careful not to overorder. The buns and dumplings can be surprisingly filling, and you can keep going back for more until you’re full. In addition, feel free to stick to your food preferences if you are not fond of certain flavors and ingredients. You can also request help from your waiter to guide you through the menu and make the right choices.  

  • Never ask for coffee

Asking for coffee in dim sum restaurants is not advisable. You can opt to go with tea instead, and you can choose from pu’er, jasmine, and chrysanthemum flowers. Another basic etiquette tip you have to remember is to never pour yourself tea first. You should always pour your companions’ cups before yours.

  • Don’t expect spicy

Cantonese food focuses on the freshness of ingredients, so don’t expect spicy dishes. However, you can request chili sauce if you want to add some spice to your meals. Ask your waiter for some lè jiao (in Mandarin) or la jiu (in Cantonese).

  • Leave a tip on your table

Most restaurants share tips among waitstaff, including those pushing the carts. After enjoying your meal, don’t forget to leave a standard 15-20 percent tip on your table. 

  • Don’t fill up on rice

It’s a common misconception that the Chinese eat rice at every meal. If you have a traditional banquet, expect rice to be served at the end. You may not even finish your bowl since you are already full, so feel free to skip the rice altogether. This way, you can avoid getting bloated and enjoy the rest of the day or evening. 


There are right and wrong ways when dining in a dim sum restaurant. To stay well-informed and ensure that you respect the Chinese tradition and culture, keep the dos and don’t listed above in mind. This way, you can have an enjoyable dining experience with your loved ones or colleagues. 

If you are looking for Chinese food delivery or the best dim sum in Houston, then you’ve come to the right place. At Ocean Palace Restaurant, you can fill your tummies and satisfy your taste buds with dumplings, sticky rice, noodles, and more to your heart’s desire. Order now!