How to do dim sum like a pro over Chinese New Year
With the Lunar New Year round the corner, Chinese restaurants around the world are poised to be filled to the rafters with diners looking to celebrate with good authentic eats, including dim sum, or yum cha (“drink tea” in Chinese).
To help newbies and veterans alike get their tea pot refilled without saying a word and look like a dim sum pro, here are a few tips on how to navigate the flow of carts and the cacophony of sounds that accompany any good yum cha experience.
While it's better to say thank you verbally, when someone pours you tea, you can show your appreciation by tapping your index and middle finger on the table, a gesture said to mimic the act of bowing.
Turn over the lid and leave it on the teapot if you want a refill.
Feel free to get a dessert dish in the middle of the meal. There are no set rules for mixing sweets with savory items during dim sum.
Leave a tip. Just because the waiters are coming by with carts doesn't mean it's no less a service. It's common for Chinese restaurants to split tips among the servers.
Serve yourself tea first. Always pour your companion's cup first. Otherwise you brand yourself as an uncouth Neanderthal.
Flag down just any waiter when you need something. Servers are assigned to tables so make sure you take note of the person who is taking care of you.
Be selfish. If there are three dumplings on a dish and there are five of you at the table, cut a dumpling in half so you don't short a diner a dumpling.
Rush the cart ladies. Exercise patience and let them come to you with the goodie-laden trolleys, that's the whole point of the yum cha experience. Swarming them will only get you on their bad side. And you don't want to anger the ‘dim sum' lady.
Photo © The Hong Kong Tourism Board