What I order at dim sum

With Chinese New Year tomorrow, I’ve got dim sum on the brain. My friends have said they don’t know what to order when they go on their own, so here are the staples we always order to get you started (mostly for meat eaters, sorry).

Siu mai
Steamed pork dumplings often with mushroom and shrimp in thin wrapper. Usually in the cart with lots of stacked metal steamers.

pork dumplings in a thin yellow wrapper

photo by Sara McCleary

Har gow
Shrimp dumplings in a sticky, translucent wrapper. Almost always ordered with siu mai, so same cart.

shrimp dumplings in a white translucent wrapper

photo by Matt @ PEK

Char siu bao (steamed)
Fluffy buns filled with barbecue pork. At dim sum I recommend getting the steamed version (pictured here). If you visit a Chinese bakery definitely try the baked version (will be a brown, round bun).

white fluffy buns filled with bbq pork

photo by Takeaway

Noh mai gai (sticky rice)
Sticky rice filled with chopped mushrooms, chicken, and often a piece of lap cheong (Chinese sausage). Wrapped in lotus leaves.

rice wrapped in steamed lotus leaf

photo by Takeaway

Gai lan
Steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce.

Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and sesame seeds

photo from whiskeyandbooch.com

Shrimp balls
Fried. Shrimp. Balls. I recommend you get shrimp toast first if you see it, but I’ve found a lot of dim sum restaurants have switched to doing these shrimp balls and they’re also very delicious.

crispy fried shrimp balls

photo from makanan.club

Chicken feet
If you’re feeling adventurous... The chicken feet are deep fried in hot oil and steamed so the cartilage puffs up and becomes soft. They’re then simmered in a sweet and spicy black bean sauce. Think of it kind of like eating a chicken wing, where you eat around the bones. Not for everyone, but I love ’em.

steamed chicken feet in black bean sauce with jalepeños

photo from tucsonfoodie.com

A few others we often order to round things out:

  • crispy spring rolls
  • shrimp cheung fun (shrimp filled, flat rice noodles with sweet soy sauce)
  • Singapore noodles (yellow curry noodles)
  • steamed spare ribs
  • dan tat (egg custard)
  • jian dui (sesame balls)

Add some hot mustard or a chili oil/soy sauce mix and enjoy. And also, Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy year of the rabbit 🐇