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Dim Sum

Dim sum literally means ‘to touch the heart’, and these small dumplings and snacks are a Cantonese culinary form of art. Dim sum is part of the ritual of yum cha, ‘to drink tea’, a custom that evolved in Chinese teahouses where regular customers would come to drink tea, read the newspapers and talk, while having a few snacks or a bowl of congee. Today, yum cha is taken any time from very early morning to late at night and still revolves around socializing with family or friends or reading papers over a leisurely meal of tea and dim sum. Dim sum restaurants are famous for their noise and bustle, especially in the huge yum cha restaurants of Hong Kong whose highly trained chefs turn out some of the best dim sum in the world. Women push around carts of dim sum fresh from the kitchen, the dumplings stacked in the bamboo steamers they were cooked in, crying out the names of dishes so diners can pick out what they would like. There are thousands of varieties and some of the most famous ones are shown here, but new ones are created all the time.