the down-low of dimsum for the foodie

The Down-Low of Dimsum for the Curious Foodie

Dim sum, also known as “yum cha,” or “ban ming,” pertains to a wide selection of small, tapas-style Chinese dishes that pair well with a cup of tea. For those whose regular visits to Chinese restaurants in Houston include Panda Express or P.F. Pei Wei Asian Diner, you haven’t yet experienced the full impact of an authentic dim sum dish. Beyond their stunning colors and mouthwatering flavors, these seven facts will get you rushing to the closest Chinese eatery in minutes. 


  • It’s Part of Chinese Tradition

In Cantonese, yum cha refers to traditional Chinese morning tea. Though a popular meal across the states, traditional tea houses belong only to unique areas in Guangzhou. Historically, these small homes stood in as roadside stops, providing travelers with calming tea and a few tasty morsels before once again hitting the road. 


  • It’s a Great Way to Celebrate Friendship

Per dish of dim sum, you’ll usually get three or four servings of the delicious treat. They come in a wide variety of flavors, perfect for tasting with a large group of friends. Hardly is a dim sum meal a light one, so you’ll probably want to fast beforehand—we mean skip the afternoon meal, you’ll thank us after!


  • It Comes in All Tastes (and Sizes)

Not every chef will prepare a classic dim sum dish with the same ingredients. Sometimes, chefs incorporate steamed prawn, chive dumplings, or vegetarian spring rolls. The variety can be overwhelming to the regular foodie, so bravery is a must when it comes to exploring the expansive world of dim sum. Alternatively, you can start with beef or pork if you’re feeling a little less adventurous. 


  • It Goes Well with Other Dishes

If you’re already a fan of dim sum but haven’t quite fully penetrated the entirety of Chinese cuisine, consider giving xiu long bao a shot. It’s steamed meat or vegetable dumpling that contains a juicy soup sauce center. 


Cheung-fun with a crispy roll is another savory option, similar to doughnuts wrapped in Chinese rice noodles. Dip this snack in soy sauce for the ultimate tasting experience.


  • It Precedes Tasty Desserts

A dim sum menu is primarily savory—but it’ll also list a few sweet favorites. Egg tart is a must-have. An egg custard filling in the center of a pastry crust, egg tart is the best way to round off your dim sum meal. 


How to Order Dim Sum


Like most Chinese dishes, there is proper etiquette to adhere to when ordering dim sum. Some restaurants will provide a constant stream of dishes to your table, whereas others will offer an individual menu cart. As a rule of thumb: 


  • Pour your tea for your fellow diners before filling your cup. Free jasmine or green tea can burn away the fat you consume from your meal. 
  • If you need a tea refill, place the pot lid upside down or slightly ajar. Then, tap both fingers on your table as a sign of appreciation. 
  • If the restaurant you’re dining at doesn’t offer a menu card option, politely point and choose a dish as servers come to your table. 




Dim sum is perfect for adventurous foodies. It provides the most full-flavored tastes without the heaviness of the main dish—and you can’t get enough of it! 

At the Ocean Palace, we pride ourselves on offering the best Chinese food in Houston. Our dim sum menu is among one of the most expansive, and you can even order take-out online for the rest of the family!

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