Just like American cuisine varies from the Deep South to New England to the West Coast, different areas of China have different types of cuisine. For example, Sichuan province is known for its hot, spicy food, and Guandong province is a place where you can still find dog meat on the menu.
But in Hong Kong, the must-try food is dim sum. Actually, dim sum is more of a food category than a specific food, like sushi or tapas. It is traditionally eaten for breakfast or lunch, and is often eaten by Chinese people on special occasions like the Lunar New Year. Dim sum is served in small portions meant to be shared among all the people at the table. It frequently comes in the steamer basket, too, rather than on a plate.
Here are a few of the most common types of dim sum: ha gau, steamed prawn rice dumplings; siu mai, yellow-colored steamed stuffed dumplings with pork or prawn inside; cheong fun, rolled rice pastry filled with meat of some kind; char siu baau, steamed barbecue pork bun; and spring rolls. Of those, my favorite is probably spring rolls, just because I’m not always fond of seafood. But, the dim sum I like best is lor bah goh, which is a pan-fried cake made of mashed turnip with bits of meat and chives and served with a nice plum-like sauce.
Advice on How to Order
All the dim sum restaurants I’ve been to in Hong Kong have not had English menus. Luckily, I have a printed page listing many dim sum types with matching images, which has worked quite well when ordering. My roommate actually went to eat dim sum with her parents and just ordered the recommendations of the waiter, which also turned out just fine.
When at a dim sum restaurant, there is also some important etiquette to follow. Before your food comes, you may be presented with your utensils and dishes, along with a larger bowl and a teapot of hot water. This water is for cleaning the spoons, chopsticks and small bowls and plates used to eat the dim sum. Also, hot tea is always served with dim sum, and traditionally, it should be poured from eldest to youngest.
There is certainly no shortage of restaurants in Hong Kong, and in all price ranges, too. And if you look in the morning or around lunchtime, there will be plenty of places to try dim sum, a delicious experience which really is a must for visitors.
Author Sydney Stonner is addicted to traveling. After studying journalism and music at the University of Missouri (where she studied abroad twice), she worked for a time as a newspaper reporter. Now, she is living in Hong Kong teaching English to primary school students. So far, she has visited 15 countries and hopes to visit many, many more.