It’s simply unthinkable to spend any time in Hong Kong without including a few of these bite-sized morsels in your itinerary. Is there anything more iconic in Cantonese cooking than steamy bamboo baskets stacked neatly one on top of another?
Dim sum’s origins stem from yum cha, the Chinese tradition of serving snacks in tea houses, particularly along the Silk Road. Today, it’s a bustling dining experience which sees Hong Kongese office workers, students and families tip up at the city’s tea houses to brunch on dozens of steamed and fried good things.
While it’s tough to find a truly terrible dim sum house in Hong Kong, not all are made equal. Visiting Hong Kong on the fly? Fear not. Here’s our pick of the best dim sum houses in the city.
Lin Heung Teahouse
You don’t come to Lin Heung Teahouse (which literally translates to ‘fragrant lotus’) for a relaxing dining experience. This fast-paced, old-school joint requires a plan of attack. If you’re lucky enough to have nabbed one of the tables, which you’ll inevitably share, cleanse your chopsticks and plate in hot tea, tick your dim sum tally card and try to outmanoeuvre the other diners by making a dash for one of the dim sum trolleys. There are over 30 varieties, but highlights including the cha siu bao, winter melon soup, stuffed mud carp and har gow shrimp dumplings.
Ding Dim 1968
Dim sum at Ding Dim is knocked up by the anonymous chef, Master Black. He’s mastered the art for more than 50 years, perhaps the answer to why there’s often a long queue of Hong Kongese eagerly waiting for a seat in this understated joint along Wyndham Street. Every piece is made is made from scratch by hand, no substitutes, and you won’t find trace of MSG laced in Ding Dim’s dim sum. While the lengthy menu can feel overwhelming, you can’t go wrong if you order the black truffle siu mai, the pandanus leaf-wrapped chicken and rice or the classic har gow prawn dumplings.
Tin Lung Heen
If you’ve got deep pockets, the grandiose chandelier-studded setting and 2-star Michelin dim sum at the Ritz Carlton’s 102nd floor Tin Lung Heen might be more your speed. Everything from the décor to the service, not to mention the food, is effortlessly elegant. Signature dishes include the barbecued Iberian pork with honey and the chicken soup with fish maw. Then there’s Chef Paul Lau’s steamed crab claw with egg white, deep-fried crab cake and rice rolls with tender Wagyu beef. Plus, unlike most dim sum houses, you can accompany your plates with a glass from the impressive wine list and views across the towering metropolis.
One Dim Sum
Another dim sum house with a one-star nod from Michelin is One Dim Sum. It may not have all the bells and whistles of Tin Lung Heen, but who needs them when you’re tucking into siu mai pork dumplings, fried harm shui kok salted meat dumplings, silky cherng fun rice rolls, lor bak go turnip cake and lai wong bao egg custard buns. And you can’t argue with the price. Most dim sum will set you back less than a couple of bucks. Unless you’re prepared to queue – though it’s well worth the effort – try to visit outside of peak times.
Dim Sum Library
The most modern of our picks is the Dim Sum Library – a contemporary joint opened in 2017 which takes traditional recipes and reinvents them with a modern twist. Expect things like foie gras and Waygu beef stone pot fried rice, black garlic siu mai pork dumplings and outrageously decadent Hokkaido king crab and sea urchin spring rolls. Don’t skip dessert either. You’ll be hard pushed not to be tempted by tofu panna cotta or lava salted caramel chocolate mochi. It might not be traditional, but there’s a reason why Dim Sum Library is quickly building up a name for itself.
LockCha Admiralty Teahouse
Vegetarians don’t need to miss out on the Hong Kong dim sum experience if they visit LockCha. This tranquil little spot next to Hong Kong Park has been voted one of the world’s best restaurants for veggies. This is a place for quality over quantity. Steamed green squash rolls, golden mushroom buns, stir-fried udon noodles and yellow cucumber in vinegar are some of the teahouse’s favourites. This is a true teahouse too with over 70 tea varieties to accompany your vegetable snacks. Those interested in tea can stop by for a private workshop.