A Beginner’s Guide to Classic Chinese Dim Sum

Make sure you don’t confuse “dumplings” with “dim sum”.


The Chinese Dim Sum is a feast for the senses: carts with steamers filled with dumplings, buns, rolls, and meat dishes offer dizzying choices, especially for the uninitiated. Traditionally served from morning to mid-afternoon, this meal is also called “yum cha” and is served with tea. Here is a guide to the most common dim sum items, all served at Marco Polo Ortigas’ Lung Hin restaurant:


Steamed Dumplings

These are the most familiar items on a dim sum menu: shrimp (har gow), pork, and veggies are wrapped in translucent rice flour dough and offer succulent bites.


Siu Mai (Pork or Shrimp Dumplings)

These partially-wrapped dumplings are packed with minced pork or shrimp (or a combination of the two) and are garnished with shrimp roe.




Char Siu Bao (Pork Buns)

Fluffy dough is filled with a sweet roast or barbecued pork filling, with the dough splaying open when it is steamed. These buns may also be baked.



Chicken Feet

Chicken feet sans claws are deep-fried and braised in a sweet sauce. They are steamed with black beans and is sometimes served with fresh chilies.




Rice Noodle Rolls or Spring Rolls

Rice noodle rolls are made with large steamed noodles are wrapped around a shrimp or meat center while spring rolls (steamed or fried) are made by stuffing rice wrappers with meat or vegetables with vermicelli noodles.




Thin wrapped dumplings are usually filled with ground meat, with crimped edges along the top, and steam-fried.



Radish Cakes

Radish cakes are made of grated Chinese radish and mixed with a rice flour batter. Steamed in large molds, they are cooled then pan-fried to crispy perfection.



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