Dim sum is a classic Cantonese cuisine that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people in Singapore and worldwide.
It is perfect for sharing with friends and family and is usually served in bamboo baskets or small plates in Chinese restaurants.
But ordering dim sum can be intimidating for the uninitiated.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll take a closer look at a typical dim sum menu and share tips to order like a pro and enjoy dim sum at restaurants like JU Signatures.
Get ready to transport your taste buds to the bustling streets of Hong Kong!
Table of Contents
Tips For Ordering
Start With A Few Dishes
If you’re new to dim sum, it’s a good idea to start with a few dishes and then order more as you go.
But try to get a good mix of textures to experience a wide variety of flavours.
That way, you can better pace yourself.
Share With Your Group
Dim sum is traditionally a shared meal, so it’s a great opportunity to try different dishes with your group.
After all, a bigger group means opportunities to try even more dishes.
Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help
Don’t hesitate to ask your server if you’re unsure about a dish or want some recommendations.
They are always happy to help.
How To Order?
When you’re ready to order, mark your choices on the order sheet provided by the service staff.
You can also ask them for recommendations based on your preferences.
Dim sum is usually served in small portions, so it’s best to order a variety of dishes to share with your dining companions!
Here are some simple etiquette rules to keep in mind while enjoying dim sum
To start off, before pouring your own tea, try to pour tea for others first as this is considered good manners and shows your consideration for others.
And if someone pours tea for you, a little tap of your index and middle finger on the table is a simple way to say “thank you.”
Chinese tea is also a good way to cleanse your palates while eating.
Other Etiquette Tips
It’s also considered more polite to use chopsticks to pick up your food instead of using your hands.
Remember, these are just some simple etiquette rules to keep in mind, so don’t stress too much!
The most important thing is to relax and have fun trying the delicious dishes with your loved ones!
Understanding The Menu
Most Dim Sum restaurants will categorise their menu into Steamed, Deep Fried/Pan Fried, and Baked items.
Some Chinese restaurants would also have other wok fried dishes such as Fried Rice or Sweet and Sour Pork to tantalise you even more.
And Dim Sum isn’t restricted just to savoury options too, and you might even find desserts like Egg Tarts on the menu too.
Steamed Dim Sum
Good restaurants like JU Signature’s prepare their steamed dim sum using traditional techniques and fresh, high-quality ingredients to ensure an authentic dining experience.
They offer a variety of options, from classic Char Siew Baos to more unique options like Japanese Bamboo Charcoal Liu Sha Baos.
Steamed Dim Sum is also the most popular and traditional type as the cooking method allows the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine through.
They are also often sought after for being healthier.
Steamed Har Gao
You can’t have a Dim Sum feast without Har Gao.
The perfectly steamed, translucent rice flour skin is wrapped around plump and juicy shrimp filling, creating a heavenly burst of flavour in every bite.
Drizzle some soy sauce and chilli sauce over it, and you have a divine creation that we call Har Gow-licious!
Steamed Siew Mai
Siew Mai is another popular dish you should definitely try.
It’s made with minced pork, shrimp, and mushrooms, wrapped in a thin wheat flour skin.
The dish is then garnished with the perfect amount of umami fish roe and steamed to perfection.
Steamed Honey-glazed BBQ Pork Bun (Char Siew Pao)
Sink your teeth into the soft and fluffy wheat flour dough, filled with succulent honey-glazed BBQ char siew.
This classic dim sum treat is a perfect balance of sweet and savoury, creating a taste sensation that will have you coming back for more.
Steamed Phoenix Feet in Sichuan Black Bean Paste
Don’t be fooled by the name, as this dish doesn’t actually contain any phoenix feet!
It’s made of chicken feet marinated in a spicy black bean paste and steamed until they’re fall-off-the-bone tender.
This dish may require some skill to eat, but the explosion of flavours in your mouth is definitely worth the effort.
Steamed Spare-Ribs on a Bed of Tau Pok
This dish is made of tender pork spare ribs that are steamed until they fall off the bone.
The ribs are served on a bed of tau pok, a type of fried tofu skin that has a soft and spongy texture, making this dish irresistible.
Steamed Glutinous Rice with Chicken wrapped in Lotus Leaf (Lo Mai Kai)
Also known as Lo Mai Kai, this dim sum staple that’s filled with flavorful glutinous rice and tender chicken.
Every bite is a burst of complex flavours thanks to the sticky rice, chicken, mushrooms, and other savoury ingredients, wrapped in a lotus leaf, and steamed until fragrant.
Japanese Bamboo Charcoal Salted Egg Lava Buns (Liu Sha Bao)
For a unique twist on the traditional dim sum, JU Signatures Japanese Bamboo Charcoal Liu Sha Baos is a must try.
These black steamed buns are filled with a molten salted egg yolk custard that oozes out when you take a bite.
The combination of the soft and fluffy bun with the rich and creamy filling is an explosion of flavours in your mouth!
Steamed Prawn & Pork Dumpling in Sichuan Spicy Sauce
This dish is a spicy and flavorful dish that’s perfect for those who love a bit of heat.
The dumpling is filled with a mixture of pork and prawns and served in a spicy Sichuan sauce that’s sure to please your taste buds.
Deep Fried/Pan Fried Dim Sum
Deep fried or pan-fried dim sum dishes are crispy and savoury.
Get ready to say hello to a satisfying crunch with each bite.
Crisp-fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Fresh Prawns
This dish features delicate rolls made from beancurd skin that are filled with juicy fresh prawns and deep-fried to crispy perfection.
The contrast between the crispy exterior and the tender filling makes for a delightful texture.
Crisp-fried Prawn Roll with Banana
A creative twist on the traditional prawn roll, this dish adds a sweet and slightly tangy element with the addition of banana.
Enjoy the prawns wrapped in a thin layer of pastry, then deep-fried until golden brown for a mouthwatering treat.
Golden Brown Crisp Prawn Dumplings
If you’re a fan of dumplings, you’ll love this dish.
The prawn filling is wrapped in a thin layer of pastry and then deep-fried to create a golden brown, crispy exterior.
Enhance the flavour by dipping them in some soy sauce or chilli oil for an extra burst of flavour.
Deep-fried Vegetarian Spring Roll
While most dim sum choices contain meat or seafood, there are alternatives for vegetarians too such as the Deep-fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls.
They’re filled with a variety of fresh vegetables and then deep-fried to create a crispy exterior that’ll leave you craving for more.
Crisp-fried Pork and Chives Dumpling
Another classic, these dumplings are bursting with juicy pork and fragrant chives, and then deep-fried until crispy.
Pan-fried Carrot Cake/Chai Tow Kway
Don’t let the name fool you, this dish isn’t actually made with carrots.
Instead, the “carrot” refers to white radishes because “chai tow” can be used for both white radish and carrots.
It’s a savoury cake made from shredded radish and rice flour, pan-fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!
Dragon Beard Fresh Prawn Roll
This dish is a combination of savoury flavours with the addition of fresh prawns wrapped in a sweet, chewy pastry made from rice flour.
The exterior has a unique stringy texture that’s similar to dragon beard candy!
Lavalicious Orh-Nee Salted Egg Sesame Ball
For a sweet and indulgent treat, try the Lavalicious Orh-Nee Salted Egg Sesame Ball!
It’s a deep-fried pastry ball filled with creamy orh-nee (yam paste) and salted egg yolk, then coated with sesame seeds.
It’s a rich and decadent dessert that’s perfect for sharing!
Baked Dim Sum
Try a range of sweet and savoury baked dim sum dishes that are sure to tantalise your taste buds!
Signature Egg Tart
Beginning with the classic Signature Egg Tart is a must-try.
Sink your teeth into the flaky, buttery crust that crumbles at the touch of your lips, revealing a heavenly, creamy egg custard filling that’s not too sweet – a perfect harmony of flavours.
Some restaurants may use a shortcrust pastry instead of the flaky version.
Baked Orh Nee Tart with Gingko Nut
The signature Baked Orh Nee Tart with Gingko Nut is a unique twist on a traditional Chinese dessert.
Take a bite into the flaky pastry shell that gives way to a luscious filling of mashed yam, topped with gingko nuts that add a rich, nutty flavour that’s both sweet and savoury.
Bolo Char Siew Pau/Pineapple Bun
If you’re looking for something that combines sweet and savoury flavours, try the Bolo Char Siew Pau.
This fluffy, steamed bun is filled with tender char siu (barbecue pork) and crowned with a crumbly, buttery crust.
Similar to carrot cake, this bun doesn’t have any pineapples despite its name.
Instead, the “pineapple” is derived from the appearance of the bun, where it’s crusty brown layer resembles the texture of pineapple skin.
Original Bolo Pau with Butter
For a simpler option, go for the Original Bolo Pau with Butter.
The plain, steamed bun is made all the more delicious with a layer of sweet, creamy butter that melts in your mouth, making it a perfect light and fluffy treat.
Chee Cheong Fun & Porridge
There might even be a Chee Cheong Fun & Porridge Menu for those who crave something warm and comforting.
With its focus on simple but flavorful dishes, this menu is a great choice for those who appreciate the art of traditional Cantonese cuisine.
Whether you’re in the mood for silky smooth Chee Cheong Fun or a heartwarming and comforting bowl of Porridge, they have got you covered!
Chee Cheong Fun with Prawns & Chives
The rice noodle roll is filled with succulent prawns and chives, and topped with a sweet and savoury soy sauce.
Simple yet delicious, this dish is perfect for dim sum beginners!
Chee Cheong Fun with Char Siew
If you prefer a meatier option, try the Chee Cheong Fun with Char Siew.
It’s a rice noodle roll filled with tender char siu (barbecue pork) and topped with a sweet and savoury soy sauce.
A classic dim sum dish to order because it can never go wrong!
Pork Balls & Peanuts Porridge with Bonito Flakes
The Pork Balls & Peanuts Porridge with Bonito Flakes is a hearty and comforting dish that’s perfect for a cold day.
This porridge is slow cooked with tender pork balls and braised peanuts, which is then topped with savoury bonito flakes which bring the flavour and textures to another level!
Porridge with Minced Meat and Century Egg
Enjoy a comforting bowl of porridge with a savoury minced meat and century egg filling.
For first-timers, century egg, also known as preserved egg or hundred-year egg, is a Chinese delicacy that has a unique and slightly pungent flavour.
The minced meat adds a depth of flavour to the porridge, making it a satisfying and delicious option for those who enjoy bold and savoury flavours.
Overall, it’s the perfect choice for anyone looking for a hearty and comforting meal!
With a wide variety, you’ll be spoilt for choice at every Dim Sum feast,
From classic dishes like Har Gao and Siew Mai to unique options like Japanese Bamboo Charcoal Salted Egg Lava Buns, there’s no shortage of delicious dim sum to try.
So what are you waiting for?