How To Eat Dim Sum: Basic Etiquette

Basic table manners are something that everybody is aware of. It has been practiced for hundreds of years. A person is expected to have knowledge on table manners regardless of the kind of dish or cuisine they are eating. However, aside from basic eating manners, there is also a certain thing called dim sum etiquette which is obviously practiced when eating dim sum. You should also practice this when going to a halal Chinese restaurant.

Dim sum etiquette is not only carried out because of the culture and tradition of its origins, but also these manners in eating dim sum can affect the taste and texture of a dim sum meal. So before you head on to that new Chinese restaurant you have been dying to try, make sure you made your research. You should know what to order and what it comprises, and of course you should have decent dim sum dining attitude.

In Choosing The Right Drink

DON’T: Ask for coffee. Dim sum dishes are best eaten with tea. It is believed to be the heart of dim sum.

DO: Know which tea is right for you and your dim sum meal.

  • Black Tea (Bo Lay) is the perfect tea to get rid of the unpleasant tastes of oil in dim sum, which is usually more prominent in pan fried dishes. The Black tea is a very strong, earthy, full and rustic in nature. It is traditionally the tea of choice for dim sum.
  • Crysanthemum Tea (GukFa) is the contrast for the Bo Lay which is dark. The GukFa is light and sweet. It is best paired with steamed dim sum dishes and is very refreshing.
  • Blended Black and Crysanthemum Tea (Guk Bo) is the best of both worlds with the right mix of earthy taste from the Bo Lay and the right sweetness from the GukFa. This is the safest choiceif you cannot decide whether it’s the Bo Lay or GukFa that you want.
  • Shoumel (Sau Mei)is the white tea and like the GukFa. It is also sweet but with a bitter after taste because of the leaves used to prepare the tea.
  • Green Tea (Luk Cha) is the tea of choice for many especially for amateur tea drinkers. Just like the jasmine tea, it can easily complement any dim sum dish in a subtle manner.

In Sharing Tea

DON’T: Pour tea in your cup first.

DO: Pour tea first in your companion’s cup. Also, when you want a refill, leave the cover of the teapot open.

In addition, when someone pours tea in your cup, instead of saying thank you as an appreciation, you can tap your pointer and middle finger on the table.

In Adding Spices

DON’T: Expect for a chili dish. The origin of dim sum which is from Hongkong and Guandong province which have locals that are not very fond of spicy food. They also prefer fresh ingredients for their dim sum.

DO: If you want your dim sum to be a bit spicy, you can ask for chili sauce from the restaurant.

On Your Waiters

Status is very important in the Chinese culture and tradition, a mistake in recognizing position and status can be offensive to them. This is also applicable in a halal Chinese restaurant.

DON’T: Get confused on who your waiter is. They are the ones who, after you have been seated, take your drink order. The guys in suits are captains and they should not be asked to perform the responsibilities of waiters.

DO: A customary 15 to 20 percent should be left on the table. The tips are usually totaled and divided among the restaurant crew, including those who push the dim sum carts.

On Eating Dim Sum

DON’T: Eat too fast and fill up on rice. You can ditch the rice, it may be a staple ingredient but you can ditch eating it.

Do: Dim sum has hundreds of varieties and is best when shared. Eat slowly and savor the flavors in the dim sum.

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