houston dim sum

What You Need to Know Before Trying Dim Sum: A Guide

Many people consider Chinese dishes as their ultimate comfort food. While it is true that every bite of these sumptuous meals can make you feel better, they are much more than that. What makes them one-of-a-kind is they use nutritious ingredients and balanced cooking methods. These techniques are best exemplified by dim sum. To learn more about it, use this article as your guide.

What Is Dim Sum?

Dim sum, which translates as “touch the heart,” is a type of Chinese food that comes in small portions of a wide variety of dishes. It is typically served on small plates or in steam table trolleys stacked with metal or bamboo steamer baskets. These trolleys get pushed around from table to table, and diners order by pointing at the read-to-eat dishes.

This food is also usually served with tea. In fact, it is linked with the historic Chinese tradition of tea tasting called yum cha. Hundreds of years ago, travelers would stop at teahouses along the ancient Silk Road to rest and enjoy a cup of tea. Eventually, snacks became part of the tradition.

Dim sum started as a snack, but at present, it is an integral part of Chinese food culture. Restaurants started serving it early in the morning, and many older Chinese people eat it after they exercise. It is popular worldwide, especially in Hong Kong. 

What Are Some Types of Dim Sum?

There are several types of dishes you can find in a dim sum restaurant. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Dumplings: This type of dim sum contains chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or vegetables covered with see-through rice flour or wheat starch skins. Some examples of dumplings are sam ha cao, truffle xiao long bao, duoi bo xiao long bao, bahn xep scallop hap, and more.
  • Rice noodle rolls: This dim sum dish consists of fried, steamed, or rolled rice noodles sprinkled with sesame seeds. They can be eaten on their own or filled with vegetables, pork, beef, shrimp, sea scallop, and other meat. 
  • Buns: These baked or steamed fluffy buns called bau are made from wheat flour. Meats, vegetables, and bean pastes are some of their popular fillings.
  • Meats: Some dim sum meats you can order are spare ribs, steamed meatballs, and more. Another meat dish worth trying is phoenix claws, which are deep-fried or boiled chicken feet marinated in a black bean sauce.

What Is the Best Way to Try Dim Sum for the First Time?

After knowing some of the basic dishes, it’s now time to give dim sum a try! Start your food adventure by searching online for a dim sum restaurant near you. You can also check the Chinese food from Chinatown. Once you explore your options and pick a restaurant, grab a friend or family member to go with you so you can both share and enjoy a memorable dining experience. 


Trying dim sum for the first time might seem overwhelming or intimidating. Now that you know more about it through this guide, you can have more confidence to explore Chinese food culture and order some dim sum dishes the next time you head to a dim sum restaurant.

If you are looking for great dim sum in Houston, go to Ocean Palace Restaurant in the heart of Chinatown at the Hong Kong City Mall. We can satisfy your craving and excite your tastebuds with our tasty dishes. Order online now!

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