WTF to order at Dim Sum? (you can’t go wrong with these options)

  Posted by - September 9, 2014 - CynEats Foodie Guide, Daytime, New York, Restaurants, San Francisco

Before we get into “what to order”…let’s talk about what “Dim Sum” actually is.

Because if you don’t know, you’re seriously missing out.

So. You know how Spanish cuisine has tapas? Well, us Chinese people have Chinese tapas- called Dim Sum.

And we eat it for breakfast.

Let me set the scene: It’s brunch. You’re starving. You’re sitting at a table in a Chinese dim sum restaurant. You see a hectic parade of metal carts being pushed around, trailing off sweet and savory aromas of steamed dumplings, BBQ pork buns, shrimp balls and chicken feet (<– I hope I didn’t just lose any readers with that one).

To your right, you see regulars calling for their favorites, while meal tickets are being stamped in exchange for dishes.

To your left, is a cart coming towards you. As the cart reaches the table you’re like… SHIT. WTF do I order??

Well, lucky you. Here’s the simple Cyn Eats guide to Dim Sum.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gau)

You can’t have dim sum without these shrimp dumplings. The skin is usually translucent and slightly chewy with a crisp shrimp on the inside. Dip these bad boys in your soy sauce and enjoy!

Rolled rice noodles (Cheong fan)

These are steamed rice noodles filled with your choice of shrimp, beef or pork. My favorite is the BBQ pork, lightly drizzled with a sweetened soy sauce. It’s heaven.

 Pork/Shrimp Dumplings (Sui Mai)

These dumplings are usually filled with ground pork, shrimp and Chinese mushrooms, that are exposed with an open top. Simply dip it in soy sauce (+ hot sauce) and enjoy!


Crispy Taro Turnovers (Wu Gok)

These taste too good to be true. The crispy taro turnovers are slightly fried and stuffed with bits of pork, shrimp and mushrooms. I especially love the outside wispy texture and the softness of the sweet and savory taro filling.

BBQ Pork Buns

You get steamy white buns filled with delicious BBQ pork- Chinese style. These are made with honey, spices, red bean, soy sauce and hoisin sauce.

Leaf Lotus Rice (Lo Mai Gai)

You haven’t had rice until you’ve had it like this: all wrapped up in lotus leaves, filled with hidden surprises of chicken, pork, egg yolk, water chestnuts and mushrooms (sometimes Chinese sausage). It usually comes in two (my BF stole one before I took the picture), and each are big enough to share with two people.

 Chicken Feet (Kai Keok)

I DARE YOU. This one is for the bold, the daring, and the adventurous. These are simmered in a sweet and savory black bean sauce. They have a unique spongy & gelatinous texture that people either really love or hate. Try it and YOU be the judge.

AND THESE are just ridiculous. Chinese donuts (not sure what the real name of it is- sorry!)

These “donuts” are lightly coated in a delicious sugary.crispy.flakey outer layer, while the insides remain warm with an egg custard that melts with each bite you take. So BOMB!

TIP: pay attention to the carts that come fresh out of the kitchen. They’ll have the freshest dishes, and don’t be afraid to ask for them!

FYI: Instead of the food carts, some Dim Sum places now have a sheet of paper for you to”check off” anything you want.


PS: If you guys know of any bomb Dim Sum places in SF, pretty please let me know! I’ve been to Lai Hong Lounge, which is pretty good. Hong Kong Lounge and Yak Sing are both overrated.


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  • […] Lai Hong Lounge is where you should be if you have time for a full dim-sum experience. They have awesome food with cheap prices, hence why the weekend lines are pretty long. If you can, come during the weekday or during off hours. If you need help ordering, here’s a beginner’s guide on what to order. […]

  • […] Lai Hong Lounge is where you should go if you have time for the full dim-sum experience. They have awesome food with cheap prices, hence why the weekend lines are pretty long. If you can, come during the weekday or during off hours. If you need help ordering, here’s a beginner’s guide on what to order. […]

  • Tao Tao February 21, 2015 - 7:00 am Reply

    oh and I live right by Canton Dimsum too – not that great. lol

  • Tao Tao February 21, 2015 - 6:58 am Reply

    Lai hong Lounge is owned by HK Lounge. everyone raves about Koi place too but i htink its overrated. Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Emeryville is a bit pricer but they have the views.

    • CynEats February 26, 2015 - 5:49 am Reply

      ooo thanks for the rec!! I didn’t know Lai Hong was owned by HK lounge. The dim sum def tastes better to me at Lai H. And the lines at Koi are toooo crazy lol.

  • Derrek September 30, 2014 - 6:08 pm Reply

    Ahh, now i’m craving dim sum! I’ll have to try out that place you recommended! Thanks!

    • CynEats October 1, 2014 - 5:50 am Reply

      You’re welcome!

  • Jennifer September 21, 2014 - 12:35 pm Reply

    haha, love your title to this post! That’s pretty much my expression whenever I go to dim sum. Ps, Love your blog!

  • Geo Sans September 14, 2014 - 5:13 pm Reply

    Canton Seafood and Dim sum restaurant at Folsom St and between 2nd and 3rd st. There’s a ton of selection of Dim sum.. Try it out.. Thanks for the dimsum info…

    • CynEats September 15, 2014 - 5:47 pm Reply

      That’s right by me! Thanks for the suggestion :)

  • Amber September 13, 2014 - 8:42 pm Reply

    Thanks. Good info. May I share this in twitter?

    • CynEats September 13, 2014 - 9:14 pm Reply

      Of course! Don’t forget to tag me @cyneats !!

  • Thomas B. September 10, 2014 - 6:42 pm Reply

    I usually get the egg tarts for dessert, and I’ve never seen those “donuts” before. Where did you get those?

  • Stephanie September 10, 2014 - 1:38 am Reply

    I’ve experienced dim sum anxiety in the few times that i’ve gone with my friends. We all just sort of pick & choose off the carts. This is really helpful! Thank you!

  • Francisc September 9, 2014 - 12:41 pm Reply

    I haven’t had dim sum in so long! This just made me crave it really bad!

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