Hong Kong's Best Dim Sum: How to Yum Cha Like a Cantonese
In the fabulous Dim Sum restaurants of Hong Kong, a collection of aromatic dumplings or deep-fried delights are served in bamboo-made containers and enjoyed with hot tea. Whether you call it dim sum, which means “to touch the heart”, or yum cha, which means “to drink tea”, this tasty cuisine is a staple in Hong Kong, and for good reason. Dim Sum restaurants are always filled to the brim and may look chaotic to people who have not had the experience before. With the below tips, you can enjoy your food hassle-free.
Wait Patiently in Queue
As with everything else, waiting in line is a necessary evil at many dim sum establishments in Hong Kong. But, rest assured, good dim sum is well worth the wait. Alternatively, you can order as a takeaway package and enjoy the food in the wonderful local parks or on a city bench. But for the inexperienced, eating inside the dim sum establishment is part of the experience that I urge you to try, at least once.
Follow the Rules
Traditionally dim sum is served on trolleys that weave between tables. You then select your dish and the wait staff circle or stamp a ticket with your order. This is still the norm in many places, especially overseas but more modern dim sum places in Hong Kong have now adopted a ticketing system. For this system you will fill out a card, or ticket, ahead of time with the items you want. Most restaurants will have cards in English, and you should always try something random because you might find a new favourite food! At very least, it will be an experience to remember.
Note that you may find yourself given a large bowl of tea before your meal. This is for you to wash your dishes in, the hot tea kills any bacteria. These days most establishments do wash their dishes, but this cleansing ritual is still continued.
Drink Tea like a Hong Kong Native
As explained above, Yum Cha means drinking tea; therefore, you should prepare yourself to drink tea with other people around you. Besides the tea being delicious, it also helps in digestion of deep fried foods. Before serving yourself a cup of tea, it is customary in Hong Kong that you serve others first as an indication of love and unity. Tapping fingers on the table as the waiter serves the tea is a sign of saying thank you; therefore, do it when you see others doing it.
The Ultimate Kaiser™