Do you like Chinese food? We do! Whether it’s sesame chicken, pork fried rice or delicious egg rolls, there’s nothing quite like the cuisine of China to get our taste buds singing.

Chinese food doesn’t always come in those unique cardboard takeout containers, though. If you’ve ever tried dim sum, you know what we’re talking about.

Dim sum is a special style of Chinese food. It’s created as small, individual — sometimes even bite-sized — portions of various dishes served on small plates or steamer baskets. Restaurants that specialize in dim sum often serve ready-to-eat dishes from carts that travel around the restaurant, so people can choose their dishes as they sit at their tables.

What do you drink with dim sum? Tea, of course! Dim sum is actually linked with the historic Chinese tradition of yum cha, which means “tea tasting.”

Hundreds of years ago, teahouses were built along the ancient Silk Road. Weary travelers would stop to rest and enjoy a refreshing cup of tea. It was only a matter of time until snacks were made part of the tradition.

What started out as a snack, though, has become a central part of Chinese food culture, especially in Hong Kong. In many areas, restaurants begin serving dim sum early in the morning. Many older Chinese people go to eat dim sum as soon as they’re finished with their morning exercises.

So what exactly does dim sum consist of? A dim sum restaurant might serve several dozen different dishes. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Dumplings: See-through rice-flour or wheat-starch skins are filled with various ingredients, such as beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or vegetables.
  • Buns: Called bau, these fluffy buns are made from wheat flour and then filled with meats, vegetables or bean pastes before being steamed or baked.
  • Rice Noodle Rolls: Wide rice noodles are steamed, rolled, fried and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. They can be eaten plain or filled with meats and vegetables.
  • Congee: This thick, sticky rice is served as porridge with various savory ingredients.
  • Meats: Dim sum meats might include spare ribs, steamed meatballs or phoenix claws, which are chicken feet that have been deep fried, boiled and marinated in a black bean sauce.

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