Is dim sum the meal of choice for today? If what you know about it is only limited to a couple of dumplings, then you need to know that there is a multitude of other choices that you need to try. Here are a few tricks that will set you a good spread for a meal that surely delivers.
Secrets to enjoying dim sum
If you want to get the best first dim sum fare, here are some pointers to remember…
1. Look for a good dim sum spot
Singapore is teeming with a lot of good dim sum places. But if you want homegrown flavour and hand-made dim sum dishes, go for those that have been around for some time. But let me in you on a secret, usually the dim sum houses found in your local Chinatown – especially those that often have full sitting or people lined up – this is an easy giveaway that they churn out good dim sum. The problem with all these new places popping up is that that they simply settle in serving slapdash versions.
2. Enjoy the tea
Dim sum is part of a Cantonese tradition that dates back to the 10th century when teahouses that line the Chinese trade route started serving tea to merchants. This is why dim sum is also referred to as yum cha or tea drinking. The meal always starts with tea, prepared in a pot on your table. Of course, you can always choose the ones that you prefer, or you could refer to this tea guide on how to pair your dim sum meal with the tea that compliment it best.
A lot of dim sum dishes may contain some amount of lard in them and tea can help cleanse the grease out of your system. It aids in digestion and it lowers cholesterol levels too. Just remember to show your appreciation after being poured a cup of tea. Tapping your bent middle and forefinger symbolizes bowing for the person who is serving tea.
3. Clean your utensils with tea
Speaking of cleansing, you can use your tea to wash your utensils. This does not mean that the utensils in dim sum restaurants aren’t sanitary, but this is more of a common practice. You would often see this in mid-range to high-end restaurants. In some places, a pot of boiled hot water is prepared on the table for this purpose.
4. Go for variety
Dim sum is made synonymous to dumplings, however, those who believe this are missing out on a lot. Dim sum has a full spread of choices that can range from savoury soups, tasty filled buns, and delectable desserts that can surely surprise a newbie’s palate. One look at the menu might send your eyes reeling because of all the foreign-sounding names, but this should not dissuade you. What is good about dim sum is that you don’t have to know what you are eating because these dishes are tasty albeit different at first look.
Always remember that the secret to a well-balanced dim sum meal is variety. Try to get something steamed, fried, or baked.
5. Be brave to try the exotic dishes
Dim sum has a lot of exotic food finds which can be surprisingly delicious. Like chicken feet, for instance, it may appear scary and gross, but this is actually a very tasty dish. If you make your peace with it, you’d be pleased that this gelatinous treat can be tasty right down to the bones.
Turnip cakes is also another example. It may sound like a misguided dessert, but these square-shaped slices are actually not baked but pan-fried, although there is also a no-fried version which is just as good. It is no sweet treat but savoury with a generous amount of toppings such as sausages and spring onions.
So think outside the box, and be brave to try out these new dishes!
6. Don’t be fooled by the price
In dim sum, the dishes are classified according to prices and they differ based on the intricacy of the dish.But it doesn’t mean that the less pricey ones fall short on flavour. If you want to keep it balanced try some in the low price range, a few in the mid-range and then splurge on the top-notch dishes. This gives you a full experience of what dim sum has to offer.
7. Just let loose!
Your dim sum experience is a far cry from Western restaurant etiquette. Here, you can be loud and assertive. You have to be, if you don’t want your food taken by somebody else. This particularly goes for those places that still used rolling carts in serving food. Dim sum tea houses may sound like an angry mob with people talking and laughing boisterously, normally see a family of ten all rounded up at a table, and pretty much people calling at waiters from the other end of the room.
Not all dim sum restaurants feature the traditional roving carts, which may be favourable to some. This creates a more organized atmosphere, and you don’t have to settle for dumplings that have made its way around the room. It also allows you to enjoy a more traditional food to order set-up. Some restaurants even offer online reservations to cut back on so much hassle.
8. Skip the chef’s special
For newbies the chef specials may seem like a safe choice, especially when you see fancy ingredients being thrown your way. Deep fried lobster claws or roasted pork ribs may sound so mouthwatering, however there are some places that actually use leftover ingredients. I say you go for traditional dim sum choices like dumplings, congee, baos or egg tarts. These will get you to a good start for your authentic dim sum experience.
9. Take your time and savor your dishes!
Even though it comes in bite-sized portions, dim sum has to be savoured with each bite so that you can best enjoy the flavours and textures. Dim sum is like the Asian counterpart of brunch, and it is during this time where people get to chat while sipping tea and indulging in dumplings or desserts. Dim sum doesn’t have to be rushed, but to be enjoyed with good company.
10. It’s okay to fight for the bill
This is a dim sum tradition which basically tells who is brave enough to shoulder the entire fare. Doing this sort of gives you the bragging rights of showing your financial capability. However, with bragging rights aside, it’s always a money worth spending when you know that you treat friends and family to good food, right?
If you are tired of the long lines, and you are dying for good food, TakPo is a good choice to beat that craving! Our hand-made dishes with authentic Cantonese flavours are definitely a must-try. Call us today and reserve your table.
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