I am a recent fan of dim sum, ever since the first time I tried it I keep wanting to go back. When I was a first-timer to dim sum, I was overwhelmed by the many food options I could choose from. dim sum is traditionally a breakfast/brunch meal that's is served on small plates or steam baskets. Each dish is usually bite-sized and easily sharable—this kind of meal is great for large groups. Most dim sum restaurants have carts wheeled around the restaurant, allowing people to order on the spot, rather than all at once.

Ashley Laurens

I used to be known as quite the picky eater, so my first time going to dim sum was adventurous to say the least. For one, sometimes it's hard to the people wheeling the carts around to explain what they are passing around. For another, you don't want to be embarrassed, you want to look like you know what you're doing. When I first went, I tried a bunch of different things, many of which are below, so I could get an idea of what was "too crazy" for me to try.

Being a first-timer to dim sum can be daunting, there are so many options, and you don't want to order too much too fast. Well fear not, here's a guide to some popular dishes. Dishes go from the new-comer's dishes to the dishes for people who want to be more adventurous. 


tea, green tea, black tea, herbal tea
Ashley Laurens

Automatically, the first thing you get is tea. Usually you'll get the tea without question, and you'll have to ask if you want any other drink. The tea is an acquired taste, some people love it and some can't stand the taste. I personally have come to love the taste, it's a unique flavor. 

There are a couple different types of tea that a dim sum place could serve you: chrysanthemum, green, or oolong are the most popular.

Steamed Pork Buns

dumpling, dairy product, dough, cream, flour
Ashley Laurens

Steamed pork buns are something everyone should easily enjoy. The pork encapsulated by dough has an almost barbecue taste. The dough is also very delicious and is thick and soft. Let's be real, if you like meat, any first-timer to dim sum will love this. This is a good starting dish because it's not too crazy, and there are a lot of familiar flavors.

Rice Noodle Roll

dairy product, sauce, sweet, syrup
Ashley Laurens

Anyone who likes noodles or shrimp will love this next dish. The noodles in this dish are thick, and coated in soy sauce. Wrapped inside are little pieces of shrimp. Once you have one of these, you'll want to eat the rest yourself.


ravioli, tortellini, dumpling, gyoza, pasta, pork
Ashley Laurens

Shumai is great for anyone who loves pork, as it's basically a dumpling. The wrapping is usually dough, however sometimes they are wrapped in cabbage leaves. This is a good dish to eat because it is small and flavorful.

Deep Fried Sesame Balls

bread, bun, sweet, pastry, sesame roll, hamburger bun, wheat, flour
Ashley Laurens

This is my personal favorite, a deep fried sesame ball filled with bean paste. This dish is a fried pastry, which has a glutinous rice flour outside. The pastry is also coated in sesame seeds. Inside is a delicious sweet red bean paste. I love this dish personally because it's crispy on the outside and then sweet and soft on the inside.

Fried Rice

rice, risotto, fried rice, vegetable, meat, chicken, pork, pilaf, cereal, pepper
Ashley Laurens

In some dim sum restaurants, there are carts that come around with individual servings of fried rice. Although fried rice isn't necessarily a dim sum dish, it is always a safe option for people who aren't adventurous, or for the people who are looking for some more food.

Turnip/Radish Cake

bread, dairy product, cheese
Ashley Laurens

Here is one of the dishes that is more adventurous that those picky first-timers might choose to steer clear of. The turnip cake has an acquired taste, and not everyone enjoys the taste. I've heard it's best with soy sauce on top, as it heightens the flavor. If prepared right, the outside should be crunchy, and the inside should be softer.

Chicken Feet

chicken, sauce
Ashley Laurens

Chicken feet is a very adventurous dish, mostly because of the meat that comes on the bones of the feet. Most of the meat on the bones is tendons and skin, there isn't any muscle. If you order this, be sure to share it with some people since sometimes there are quite a few feet.