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Dim Sum Guide

How to Order and What to Order at Hong Kong Dim Sum Restaurants


Dim Sum restaurants in Hong Kong are busy, loud and move at a hundred miles an hour – that’s what makes them great – but the clamour and clatter can also be intimidating for first timers. This how to order Dim Sum guide will walk you through the rules and customs of ordering Dim Sum, from navigating the ordering process to where not to put your chopsticks.

1. Bring Friends

Dim Sum is essentially a group experience, with a selection of dishes being ordered and shared around the table. Many of the tables in Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurants will seat upwards of eight people, they even swivel for easy access to the grub, and sitting there by your lonesome can be a little intimidating.

2. Tackle the Maitre’d

Hong Kong is a pushy town and if you want to get a table, you’ll need to be as pushy as the locals. While some Dim Sum restaurants remain a free-for-all when it comes to seating, the majority employ a front of house maitre’d who is responsible for seating and queuing. Stick close to the maitre’d and look for people leaving to secure a table. Contrary to local folklore, it is possible to make a reservation at many Dim Sum restaurants.

3. Deciphering the Menu

Perhaps the most dreaded part of the Dim Sum experience, the menu at Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurants can be a challenge. The traditional cart that used be wheeled around carrying the Dim Sum selection has been retired in most restaurants, instead you need to tick what you want on the menu card provided. There is usually, but not always, an English language version. If there isn’t, your best bet is to tell the waiter the vegetables and meats you want to eat and he’ll do the rest. Look out for surprise Hong Kong foods like chicken feet.

4. More Tea Please

The jasmine tea you receive at the start of your meal is free. If you want more tea during your meal, just leave the top off the teapot and you’ll be topped up automatically.

5. Don’t Get Your Chopsticks in a Twist

Remember that only the communal chopsticks provided should be used for serving food or rice from the bowls to your plate. You should never use your own chopsticks to serve yourself from the communal bowls.
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