Yum cha 飲茶 is like the equivalent of brunch for Cantonese. Or maybe tapas. It's when you eat all the small plates of dim sum 點心 and drink tea to wash it all down. Everyone has their go-to yum cha restaurant and the quality of their dim sum is always a hot topic. I prefer the less noisy yum cha restaurants and if we can pay with credit card that would be ideal. And for the record, we don't eat chicken feet all the time - we mostly order that to scare white people.
Here are seven dim sum dishes you must order next time you go yum cha.
1. Shrimp dumpling | Har gow 蝦餃
The marks of a good har gow is all about the shrimp to wrapping ratio and how thin the wrapper skin is. The skin should be slightly translucent so you can see the yummy filling inside. It's a simple dish, but hard to perfect.
2. Pork and shrimp dumpling | Siu mai 燒賣
While I love the street food and 7/11 versions of siu mai - you know, mystery meat filling and unnaturally yellow wrapper skin -, when I go to dim sum I'm looking for quality. The classic and my favourite filling is pork and shrimp.
3. BBQ pork bun | Cha siu bao 叉燒包
Baked or steamed, cha siu bao is best served warm. Again, the ratio of filling to bread is super important. The bread must be fluffy and the filling savoury with a bit of sweetness. My favourite ones are from Tim Ho Wan.
4. Radish cake | Lo bak go 蘿蔔糕
Nope, it's not sweet like carrot cake and there's definitely no icing! Instead, this savoury "cake" is made from daikon or white radish and full of other bits like dried shrimp, mushroom, scallions, and more. It's served pan fried and with an assortment of condiments.
5. Lotus wrapped sticky rice | Lo mai gai 糯米雞
Super filling and savoury, lo mai gai is glutinous rice filled with chicken and veggies that's then steam in lotus leaves. You might want to share this one, since eating one whole one yourself can be a meal on its own.
6. Rice noodle roll | Cheung fun 腸粉
Cheung fun are steamed rice noodles that can or cannot have filling. My favourites are either the mince pork or shrimp filling and the one with deep fried Chinese doughnut in the middle. Don't forget to add sweet soy sauce. Mmm.
7. Egg tart | Dan tat 蛋撻
Yum cha just isn't complete with egg tarts. Whether you're team cookie crust or pasty crust, you're mostly likely going to doggy bag a few to eat later.