dim sum

What You Must Know About Eating Dim Sum and Proper Etiquette

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!

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