By: Melissa Stevens
Dim sum is synonymous with Hong Kong. ‘Dim sum’ translates to ‘touch your heart’ – and this style of Cantonese cuisine where dishes are prepared in small portions and served in small bamboo steamer baskets or on small plates is certainly well-loved! We are big fans of dim sum here at Expat Living so we have put together this list of dim sum restaurants where you can sample this local cuisine.
There are about 2000 types of dim sum dishes, with the most common ones being siu mai, har gow and char siu bao. The dishes are often served with tea, leading it to be known as ‘yum cha’, which translates to ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese. Dim sum is believed to have its origins in the travellers on the Silk Road needing a place to stop and rest with tea and snacks. It is traditionally only served to mid-afternoon, but it is now common to be able to have dim sum at dinnertime.
Dim Dim Sum
This hole in the wall dim sum resto was named among Newsweek’s 101 best restaurants in the world in 2012. It has gone from strength to strength since, with several branches across the city and Shanghai. The quality of the dishes is excellent, as evidenced by the queues for a table. The Wan Chai branch is small, so there are no carts bringing dishes to the table. Instead, you order by checking a card on your table. You’ll find its Hong Kong dim sum restaurants outlets in Wan Chai, Jordan, Mong Kok, and Sha Tin.
Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tidbits
This Happy Valley eatery earned a place on countless dim sum restaurants lists after being name-checked by Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow, who included it in her guide to Hong Kong on her website, goop. “If you want to have an authentic Chinese dining experience, Dim Sum is a good place to start,” GP writes. Established in 1992, its renowned for its Chinese speciality “titbits”, such as abalone siu mai, and the 1950s style decor. If it’s good enough for Hollywood royalty …
Maxim’s City Hall
Maxim’s Palace in City Hall regularly shows up on ‘best-of’ lists when it comes to dim sum restaurants, largely because of its atmosphere. This is old-school, with a banquet hall dining room overlooking Victoria Harbour with white tablecloths, fine bone china and silver teapots. Most importantly, this is where you will find the authentic dim sum service of dishes wheeled around on carts to your table. This is a venue more about the experience, than the food. There are usually queues.
Tim Ho Wan
This is one of the cheapest Michelin-starred dim sum restaurants in the world. Its first branch opened in Mong Kok in 2009. It was awarded its first Michelin star nine months later. Despite the accolades, the dining experience remains humble and authentic, with the focus on fantastic food. The original Hong Kong hole in the wall has expanded to numerous overseas countries. There are also branches dotted about Hong Kong, including Sham Shui Po, Central, Tseung Kwan O, and North Point.
Lin Heung Teahouse & Lin Heung Kui
This is dim sum at its most traditional and historic. The original Lin Heung Teahouse in Central has origins that date back to 1889. It was once listed as the No.2 thing to do in Hong Kong by Time magazine. Its sister branch is on the second floor of an unassuming building in Sheung Wan. Both serve dim sum in the classic trolley table service style. Some of their classics are not for the faint-hearted, such as pork liver siu mai. And beware – the Central resto may be facing closure due to redevelopment of its current building.
More: 162 Wellington Street, Central | 2-3/F, No.46-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan
Dim Sum Icon
This is one resto where you definitely can’t tell the kids not to play with their food! This is novelty dim sum at its most extreme – buns that poop, animal buns that ‘vomit’ their fillings. Make sure you go armed with your camera as this is an Instagrammers heaven! There are two branches in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui.
Dim Sum Library
Head to Dim Sum Library in Pacific Place if you are looking for a more high-end dim sum experience. Here you can enjoy a cocktail or two, along with classic dim sum dishes which have been changed up with some luxe ingredients. Menu items include things such as har gow with balck truffle or siu mai laced with black garlic. You can even play a game of mahjong in the back room!
Do you know of a great dim sum resto that should be on this list? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Get more info about Hong Kong’s dining scene in our Wine & Dine section!
Love eating out? Check out our guide to Hong Kong’s dining districts