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#OnlyInHongKong: What does your favourite dim sum say about you?

By Jen Paolini 6 May 2020

Header image courtesy of Svitlana Tetokina (Shutterstock)

Hongkongers of all ages will no doubt be familiar with the treasured Sunday tradition of going for yum cha, a time-honoured ritual where family, friends, and even business associates come together to enjoy a comprehensive meal of dim sum, tea, and other delicious bites. Aside from savouring these delicious morsels, have you ever spared a thought as to what your favourite dim sum says about you? Let us predict your personality based on your go-to dim sum order!

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Har gow: The life of the party

Everyone looks forward to getting a (bite-sized) piece of freshly steamed shrimp dumpling at Sunday yum cha, even if you have to jostle your fellow dining companions for it. Much like the ever-popular har gow, you know what it’s like to be the centre of attention. At all kinds of get-togethers, you can be spotted floating around the room trying to become friends with everyone, and you’re always welcomed with open arms, too! People just can’t seem to get enough of you, and similar to the har gow that we know and love to eat, we know there’s always more to follow even after the first basket’s spent.

Siu mai: The critic

When it comes to the range of emotions that the illustrious siu mai can inspire, you can spread us across the whole gamut. When siu mai are good, they can be the best-tasting dim sum you’ve ever had, but when siu mai are bad, they’re irredeemably bad. The inconsistent quality of this dim sum staple, which sees its own ups and downs depending on where you order them from, has inspired you to become the harshest of critics. Nothing gets past your superior judgement and brutal honesty. Fortunately, you are able to take what you dish out and be real with yourself when the situation calls for it—an important, self-aware quality to have.

Steamed beef ball: The loyal friend

Steamed beef balls, with their crunchy water chestnut and coriander filling, don’t seem to be all that high on most people’s must-order lists, but we consider them the underappreciated heroes of the dim sum sheet. After all, they are a staple of the full yum cha experience, offering solid, reliable flavours time and time again. Similarly, dear beef ball, you are as loyal as they come, and who wouldn’t want a reliable, ride-or-die friend like you? You pick us up without judgment or reproach on your lips when we’ve had one too many drinks, make sure to leave a glass of water by our beds, and never expect a word of thanks. We’re lucky to have you.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Chicken feet: The meticulous worker

Only the detail-oriented and hard-working will be able to encounter success when tackling fung zau (which translates to “phoenix claws”), a dish that is as divisive as it is quintessential to Cantonese cuisine. There are only so many edible little morsels you can tease out of steamed chicken feet, and similarly, nothing gets past you and your keen eagle eye. Your diligent and methodical personality lends itself very well for executing strategies and tasks that require the highest level of accuracy. No doubt you are an industrious little worker bee. We think you’d probably make a great events planner or project manager!

Rice noodle roll: The chameleon

When we think of cheung fun, we think of a blank canvas with a huge amount of untapped potential. Not all cheung fun is made the same, and whether you go simple with a generous serving of soy sauce, step things up with a succulent shrimp or beef filling, or add a little crunch to each bite with a zha leong (rice noodle roll wrapped around deep-fried dough), it just works! Likewise, you go perfectly well with almost every kind of situation and have no trouble adapting to your environment—just like a chameleon. With your empathetic character, it’s second-nature for you to seamlessly gel with different crowds and people from all walks of life.

Chinese steamed cake: The go-getter

You know what it’s like to take a hit, but much like the fluffy brown sugar sponge cake we call ma lai go, you always bounce back from your defeats. Obstacles don’t get you down—you just breeze right through them, making the most of your light and flexible qualities like the beloved airy pudding. You know what you want and no amount of struggle will stand in your way. In fact, in the face of adversity (a.k.a. overnight storage), you become even stronger (and spongier). Your resilience is something to be admired.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Tofu skin roll: The outsider

People don’t often think about the deep-fried fu pei guen as a dim sum staple and it frequently gets overlooked. So what are the chances that you can relate to this underrated outsider? Luckily, you actually enjoy your own company more than that of others, marching to the beat of your own drum and finding happiness in solo activities. You are a free spirit that can’t be fenced in and aligning yourself with the status quo just isn’t in your vocabulary. You thrive in your own originality, even if most people don’t really “get” what you’re all about. However, when one takes the time to crack open your brittle, deep-fried beancurd skin, they are almost always pleasantly surprised with the rich and nuanced filling (and character) they find cocooned within, much like this underestimated dim sum. Dance to the tune of your own songs, fu pei guen—we’ll cheer you on!

Char siu bao: The sweetheart

Generous, forgiving, and soft as a lamb, the char siu bao is the sweetheart of the dim sum crowd, frequently cooed over by adoring diners. And how could you not? Its fluffy, doughy coat and warm, gooey centre are enough to make even the hardest hearts melt. It’s tough not to fall for you, char siu bao. You always make time for your family and friends, prioritising their wellbeing over yours—sometimes a little too much—to the point of where you have a hard time saying no. Still, your thoughtful and kind nature wins you a lot of brownie points even with strangers, and you are a favourite everywhere you go.

Crispy taro puffs: The sophisticated older cousin

Worldly, knowledgeable, and enlightened... Does that sound like you, wu gok? As the astute older cousin to all other pastry puff dim sum, your intricate baked layers hold many secrets. You are an enigma wrapped in a puzzle, intriguing all who meet you with your self-assured and polished air—even if you are an acquired taste. Naturally, this leads us to wonder about the staggering effort you must be putting in to maintain your expertly curated persona, just as much as we wonder about the wu gok’s expertly balanced flavours. On the downside, you are rather flakey (you can’t help it, it’s your delicate nature) and tend to fall apart under pressure.

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Jen Paolini

Content director

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Germany, and educated in the U.S., Jen is an award-winning creative with a background in illustration, communication design, art direction, and content creation. When she’s not getting lost in a good book, you’ll find her doing crosswords, eating dim sum, covering all sides of a “Hamilton” number, and taking naps.