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Dim sum

Dim sum is a Chinese meal made up of lots of small dishes, mainly steamed or fried dumplings. It is normally eaten earlier in the day, either breakfast or lunchtime, and will be served in a restaurant or tea house rather than in someone's home because of the quantities of dishes supplied. Dishes normally come in quantities of three of four (eg four prawn dumplings, three steamed pork buns) and are meant to be shared between families or groups of friends.

Dim sum is a Cantonese term which translates literally as 'order to your heart's content'. It is traditional to drink tea with dim sum, which helps aid digestion and reflects the fact that they were originally served as snacks in Chinese tea houses.

Some larger Chinese restaurants, especially in Hong Kong, will have trolleys where waitresses push round different dim sum offerings to your table and will often prepare or assemble the dish in front of you.

Dim sum is sometimes known as yum cha, which refers to drinking tea with the meal. The phrase 'yum cha' is most commonly used in Australia, where dim sum describes a particular dish.


Cooking Index recommends the following restaurants for dim sum:


London - Royal China, Baker Street
Manchester - Yang Sing