Entering a dim sum restaurant is like entering a food grand prix – dumplings flying everywhere, pushcarts rushing past, hands waiving and voices raised – none of this is out of the ordinary.

Dim sum is a style of Cantonese cuisine prepared in small bites and portions – steamed pork dumplings, shrimp wrapped in rice noodles, and even chicken feet are just the beginning of what you can expect to find.

Shrimp Dumplings 2

Photo by Laurel Greenfield

Here’s a rundown on what to expect:

The pushcarts and tables: Once you weave your way through the carts and arrive at your table, prepare to being bombarded by servers asking you 50 times if you want the dish they are serving, but rest assured there is no pressure, get what you want! Communal tables are also a feature of many dim sum restaurants; sitting with strangers can make for great conversation and a unique experience.

Note: Some restaurants don’t have carts, but they usually have a menu with pictures to make ordering easy.

The tea: Generally speaking, you will be offered tea upon arrival. There is usually an automatic charge, which can vary, so this is a way to save a couple bucks if you are not in the mood for tea. That being said it is always a nice compliment to the meal and in Chinese culture the tea is just as important as the food.


Photo by Laurel Greenfield

The food: If you are with a group, it is usually good to get two to three dishes per person, depending upon how hungry you are. (And whatever you don’t eat makes for a great study snack later). Whether you are grabbing from the cart or ordering, it is so much fun to watch each little dish make its way around the table. Who doesn’t love a seemingly endless flow of dumplings?

If you haven’t already, grab a friend or two and venture down to China Town for a dim sum lunch. Not only is it a great time with friends, it can be very affordable. If you do your research before you go you can usually find windows of time (at the very beginning and end of dim sum service) when the menu items are even cheaper than they already are. One of my favorites is Bubor Cha Cha on Beach Street, they don’t have the carts, but the food is fantastic. Use your food instincts and dim sum away!


Location: 45 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111, United States
Hours of operation: Sun – Thurs 8:30am -12:00am, Fri – Sat 8:30am – 2:00am