"Dim sum is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea." (thank you wikipedia)
I have to admit I was a little wary of dim sum before I tried it. I think its just that some of my memories of Chinese food aren't exactly fond ones. But when you can choose what you get, the experience is quite delightful. The best part is the free-flowing tea. Eating food slowly is probably much healthier too, and it creates a warm, friendly social atmosphere to eat your food in.
Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese chain of dim sum restaurants. It's quite well known, and its quite good. My only complaint right now is that the 2 restaurants I went to had slightly different menus. And the food I loved the first time I went was not on the menu at the second location. How crappy is that? So much for being a chain.
I guess I have another 'complaint': too much pork. I know the Chinese love their pork, but it would have been nice to have a few non-pork items. But then again, their target market are the chinese, so it makes sense.
The kitchen is a pretty intense deal. Kind of looks like an operation with all the surgical masks and intent faces huddled over their patients. I can't imagine how unnerving it would be to work in that kitchen. With the huge glass windows plastered with little kids and tourists (guilty!) watching every single thing you are doing, there's really no room to make any mistakes, or to spit on the annoying customer's food.
I obviously have a vast knowledge of dim sum by now, considering I went a grand total of 2 times. But this is how I know it: you sit down, and are immediately served with Chinese tea. You will rarely be without a full cup of tea, as someone is always going around replenishing teacups. (Except when you are done your meal, then they stop filling up your tea as a subtle way of telling you to pay your bill and get out of here) After perusing the menu, you fill out a checklist type of menu, and hand it over to your server. Throughout the rest of your meal, your food slowly comes to you, and it is crossed off the receipt as it comes. It's such a great concept, because you aren't overloaded with all your food at once, and you can eat slowly, thereby digesting better. The combination of the little plates and the different arrival times creates a pleasant social experience as you can chat with your friends while sharing your food together.
Sadly I do not have a picture of the tea, as that was my favorite part of the meal. But here are some photos of some of the dishes I tried.
dumplings (pork & veggie) - I have to admit, although I'm not a huge pork fan, the pork dumplings (no veggie) were quite delicious.
steamed buns filled with ... something... (these were so-so)
To sum it all up (no pun intended), dim sum is a definite must-try, and the dumplings are the best part of it. And the tea. If you are in Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, or Los Angeles, look up Din Tai Fung in your area. I am sad that its not in Canada yet, but that just means I'll have to be brave and try a totally new dim sum place here.