There is nothing quite as comforting as tucking into a bamboo basket full of hot, steaming dim sum and sipping on some jasmine tea. An iconic staple of the Hong Kong diet, and its culture, dim sum is the perfect food for sharing with your nearest and dearest. With so many dishes to choose from – including the ever-popular fluffy cha siu bao and soupy xiao long bao – there’s something to satisfy all taste buds. So, in celebration of these little Cantonese treasures, we gather our chopsticks and check out the best dim sum restaurants around the city.
Din Tai Fung
We’ll start with our favourite! Hailing from Taiwan, this crowd-pleasing franchise tops our list for two reasons. Firstly, it boasts an incredibly broad range of dishes, for both meat eaters and vegetarians, within a very reasonable price range. This makes it the perfect choice for dining in groups, large and small. Secondly, it serves the best Xiao Long Bao we’ve ever tasted in Hong Kong. That’s a big statement, we know, but these precision-made, steaming pork dumplings are perfectly seasoned and juicy, with just the right amount of soup inside. There’s a reason why Din Tai Fung has been awarded one Michelin Star and has spread across the globe to countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and beyond. Aside from the incredibly tasty bao, the restaurant manages to maintain a consistently high level of quality, which is undoubtedly due to the meticulous method the chefs undertake to ensure that each and every dumpling is created to perfection and to precisely the correct weight. Take a peek through the kitchen window – you’ll see them checking each one on the set of scales!
Din Tai Fung, locations in Shatin, Causeway Bay, and Tsim Sha Tsui
Famed for its epic boozy weekend dim sum brunch, Duddell’s sits at the swankier end of the dumpling scale, serving a selection of ten decadent bites (ranging from $60 to $90 each), as well as fiery specialities and sharing platters for four, which cost a hefty $850. If you’re looking for luxury, then this is the spot – where else could you find Pork and Shrimp Dumpling with Black Truffle or Vegetarian Dumpling with Fungus and Bamboo Pith for around $550 a pop? With these prices it’s definitely worth going for the weekend brunch, which is served between 12pm and 3pm and gets you unlimited dim sum, snacks, rice and noodles, soup, mains, and desserts – plus free-flow wine or champagne for $770 per person. It’s a no-brainer really. Just make sure you call ahead in advance to reserve your table as seats fill up fast.
Duddell’s, 3/F & 4/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, (+852) 2525 9191
Chifa Dumpling House
Offering a Peruvian twist on classic Chinese dim sum, Pirata Group’s latest venture, Chifa Dumpling House, serves up tangy dumplings and bao alongside traditional noodles, rice, meat, and seafood dishes that pay homage to the cross-cultural ‘chifa’ cuisine which evolved from Chinese migration to Peru. The menu features a very salty take on the Classic Xiao Long Bao ($65), delightful Wantan and Salsa ($65) stuffed with fluffy potato, peas, and carrots, and the highly “grammable” Crystal Dumplings ($80) filled with shiitake mushrooms and oysters, presented in clear pyramid casing with pink edges (pictured above). The open Char Sui Buns ($100 for 3) have earned a solid reputation among restaurant goers who appreciate a playful twist on a Hong Kong classic, while the generous serving of Meat & Rice ($100) is ideal for sharing. The casual, open setting of this Peel Street eatery makes it the perfect spot for socialising over a selection of tasty bamboo baskets. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the new signature cocktails on offer – from spicy and chocolatey to sharp and fruity, there’s something to please everyone.
Chifa Dumpling House, G/F, 26 Peel Street, Central, (+852) 2311 1815
With four outlets dotted across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories, you’re never too far away from DimDimSum, and just as well as this popular franchise has won numerous accolades for its excellent quality of food. It even made the cut in the 2012 Newsweek Foodie Awards “top 101 places to eat in the world”. This achievement is owed to the executive chef, who has been in the business for more than 30 years and has worked in five-star hotels and high-end restaurants. Despite these impressive merits, the food is surprisingly reasonable in price, with all dishes coming in at under $30. The restaurant’s simple, no frills interior hints that the focus is on the food rather than lavish decor, with the kitchen whipping up delicious staples such as rice flour rolls, steamed shrimp dumplings, and char siu bao, as well as several fried and baked dishes, noodle and rice, and desserts. The Pan Fried Stuffed Eggplant with Teriyaki Sauce is a must-order, while the cheeky Piggy Custard Buns provide the perfect sweet ending to your yum cha feast. The only downside to dining here is the potential queuing time, as the outlets are modestly sized, meaning you may have to wait outside. We assure you though, it’s definitely worth it.
DimDimSum, G/F, 7 Tin Lok, Wan Chai, (+852) 2891 7677
Dim Sum Library
If you can get past that fact that you’re eating in a shopping mall, there are some excellent dishes on offer at Dim Sum Library in Pacific Place. This 1920s art deco-inspired eatery serves contemporary dishes with a quirky twist that aren’t too hefty on your wallet. Sat among 4,000 square foot of elegant decor, adorned with fancy bird cages, peacock tiled walls, and dim lighting, diners can tuck into delicious bites like the melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu Beef Puff with Black Pepper, Black Truffle Har Gau, and Dan Dan Xiao Long Bao – a spicy take on the highly popular dish (pictured above, right). Each dish is beautifully presented and tastes just as intense as it looks, and if you fancy something a little stronger than brew, you can opt for a delicious tea-based cocktail. With dishes costing from $48 for three pieces, this is an affordable option if you crave some yum cha – or just need a break from all that shopping!
Dim Sum Library, Shop 124, Level 1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, (+852) 3643 0088
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Maxim’s Palace has remained a firm favourite on the yum cha scene since it opened in 1980. Located in City Hall in Central, the palace is famed as one of the last remaining dim sum halls in Hong Kong, and boasts a huge dining room, grandly decorated with ornate chandeliers and high ceilings. Maxim’s offers the quintessential Hong Kong dim sum experience, serving up an overwhelming selection of dishes paraded on trolleys the good, old-fashioned way. Taro Puffs, Siu Mai, Spring Rolls, and Glutinous Rice Dumplings are among the assortment, as well as traditional Cantonese desserts such as Egg Tarts, Malay Steamed Cakes, and Tofu Pudding with Ginger Juice. With dim sum ranging from $35 to $56, this is a reasonable option if you have friends or family visiting Hong Kong and want to show them how dim sum is enjoyed, old-school style. Unsurprisingly, lunchtime can become quite overcrowded, so head there for dinner if you prefer a calmer experience and more attentive service. Whatever time you decide to go, aim to be seated along the edge of the dining room so you get to enjoy a view of Victoria Harbour.
Maxim’s Palace, 2/F, City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place, Central, (+852) 2521 1303
You’re never too old to play with your food, and that’s exactly what’s in store at “Instagram worthy” restaurant, Yum Cha. In fact, here you’re encouraged to squidge, poke, and smash your way through the impressive selection of animal shaped treats and googly-eyed faces that feature on the menu. Fans of char siu bao will squeal with delight when the BBQ Piggy Buns arrive at the table, while big kids with a wicked sense of humour will jump at the chance to squeeze the gooey orange innards from the mouths of the Hot Custard Buns. The newest branch in Causeway Bay has some exclusive goodies in the form of the fluffy Mango Sago & Cotton Cloud and adorable Peanut Papa Buns with moustaches (pictured above, right). With a large variety of noodle, rice, soup, and meat dishes on offer, there’s never a dull (or tasteless) moment at this quirky spot, and the quality of the food is actually pretty good. Given that most dim sum will set you back a reasonable $49 for three pieces, it’s totally worth going – do it for the gram!
Yum Cha, locations in Causeway Bay, Central, and Tsim Sha Tsui
LockCha Tea House
For the ultimate cultural experience, head to LockCha Tea House in Hong Kong Park and lap up the soothing atmosphere and cultured environment as you indulge in a selection of vegetarian dim sum that are made fresh daily. This traditional canton-style teahouse is the perfect place to relax during lunch, after work, or dinner – the only requirement being that you must choose a tea from a collection of a hundred in order to select dim sum from the à la carte menu. Which small noodle dishes and dim sum ranging from between $28 and $45, you have the luxury of choosing several without racking up a huge bill. Head there on a Saturday or Sunday and you’ll even catch some traditional Chinese music. While admission to these concerts is free on Sundays, there is a cover charge of $150 per person on Saturdays, but it’s definitely worth it if you have guests in town and want to show them just how cultural you are.
LockCha Tea House, Ground Floor, The K.S. Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty, (+852) 2801 7177
The Chinese music concert is hosted on Saturdays from 7pm to 9pm and Sundays from 4.30pm to 6.30pm
The Grand Stage
For a dim sum feast steeped in history, head to The Grand Stage in Western Market and admire the Edwardian Style Gothic architecture of this stunning century old Grade One heritage building. You might suspect that dining in a two-story banquet hall which boasts a 50-foot high ceiling and 10-foot long crystal chandelier would rack up a pretty hefty bill, but you’d be pleasantly surprised. With dim sum ranging from $19 (for small dishes) to $68 (for extra large), and rice and noodles coming in at around $120, this definitely won’t break the bank. Don’t expect to see anything too fancy on the menu though, as the emphasis is on well-executed modern Cantonese cuisine, with favourites like Steamed Rice Rolls, Spring Rolls, and Steamed Egg Custard Buns featuring on the menu. You will, however, find some very local dishes such as Double Boiled Pig Lung with Almond and Steamed Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce. If you have regular yum cha cravings, The Grand Stage offers a Club One membership which gets you discounts on all menu items which is well worth signing up for. You might even be tempted to have a spin on the 2,000-square-foot dance floor afterwards!
The Grand Stage, 2/F, Western Market, 323 Des Voeux Road, Central, (+852) 2815 2311
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