Dim Sum is a style of Chinese cuisine spreading rapidly in the West. It's similar to Spanish tapas, or a restaurants appetizer night. It features several small plates meant to be shared with the table. Dim Sum can be loosely translated to, 'comfort food,' in Cantonese. Fitting, for the highly social and personal act of ordering and sharing food with close friends. It's obvious how the Dim Sum trend started, as people are looking for new dining experiences. In traditional tea houses and dim sum restaurants, carts of food are brought directly to the tables rather than ordering from a server and waiting. 

vegetable, meat
Joyce Xu

What's to eat?

Some staples in Dim Sum are steamed dumplings such as Har gau (shrimp), Chiu-chao fun guo (pork shrimp and peanuts) and Siu mai (open topped pork or shrimp dumplings). And buns stuffed with savory pork, or even barbecued pork inside of all kinds of dough! Menus also feature rice rolls, and vegetable centric dishes such as taro and turnip cakes. For the more adventurous eater there are delectable, but obscure items such as Fung zao (fried, then steamed chicken feet, stewed in a savory sauce until spongy and tender).

Although the cuisine is vastly different than a typical American's view of Chinese food, modern Dim Sum restaurants offer a more authentic experience for diners. In a food scene where authenticity is so hard to find amongst the watered down or 'fusion' restaurants, the Dim Sum trend is a welcomed sight! A table full of small plates and steam baskets, perfect for sharing and passing around is not only Instagram worthy, but highly fulfilling. 

soup, rice, tea
Jocelyn Hsu

Diving into Dim Sum 

The West has become too acclimated to having individual courses served to them. The boring salad, followed by an entree and maybe a shared dessert routine has brought this food trend revolution upon itself. The dining experience in a Dim Sum restaurant is much different. The meal starts with tea, either the house tea or a specifically requested one, and then the food comes! The table orders several different dishes, served in sharable portions—often from a list with check marks or from an onslaught of carts bringing food to all tables around the restaurant. And it's perfectly acceptable to chase down a specific cart for your favorite dish! But be courteous of the other guests by not taking the last portion. The unique style of Dim Sum is relieving compared to the boring burn of American cuisine. 

Embrace the Trend!

If you to have grown tired of typical restaurants, and you're up for an adventure, try Dim Sum! Hone your chop stick skills and find a group like-minded friends you want to enjoy your day with. Dim Sum is pretty much the Cantonese brunch, apart from the binge drinking (normally). Here in Jax there are a few Dim Sum restaurants, but I'm most fond of Timwah Dim Sum! If you're ever in the area give it a try. If you aren't, however, find a place near you and enjoy the refreshing experience of Dim Sum!