Circulating steaming carts bearing light treasures all steamed, sautéed, fried and baked. Tiny packages of light bites meant to share and enjoy with friends and family, dim sum is the whimsical power brunch that will at once satisfy your curiosities and hunger.
What started out as a Cantonese supplement to tea service, much like tapas is to beer and wine, dim sum was brought to the west during the mid-19th century Chinese migration to the United States. Since then the tradition of dim sum for many has inspired what we know as brunch in modern times; a mid-morning meal fortified with friends and conversation.
As the steaming carts waltz across the dining room floor, the dim sum hostess will suggest items in tiny steamer baskets usually with 3 small items such as pork filled steam buns, shrimp dumplings, spare ribs, pot stickers, lovely little packages of sticky rice filled with roasted pork or chicken and noodle dishes.
On the more adventuresome side of the offerings you will find chicken feet, steamed octopus or congee, a sticky rice porridge supplemented with eggs or a variety of meats. Variety is key, and adventure is half the fun of a good dim sum. There are also plenty of vegetable dishes for the vegetarian.
Dim sum is ala carte and is priced that way as well. Look for prices on the various dishes to be $3 to $10 each. Most items are very affordable, so order to your heart’s content. The etiquette to follow for dim sum is to allow the host to order and also serve tea as needed.
Dallas has plenty of dim sum to offer and can be found across the city, although not in Dallas proper. The best spots are localized in Richardson and Plano. We have a list with a few favorites:
Garden Restaurant: If you were familiar with Arc-en-Ceil, one of the best dim sum restaurants that existed in Dallas (and Arlington), this is the same building in Garland. At Garden you will find a whole host of delicious Asian cuisine that varies from both Chinese and Vietnamese. The dim sum menu is good all day and night, but cart service flows only during luncheon hours. All other times you order off the menu and get the items you choose freshly made from the kitchen. This can actually be a good thing as the dim sum list is vast and always fresh.
Kirin Court: Kirin is the most attractive and clean restaurants offering dim sum in the Dallas area. The staff is helpful and quick, but short on the English language. This is easily overcome by using the point and smile method. Best selection on the weekends, but Kirin offers half price dim sum during the week until 3pm. On weekends it is best to arrive very early or after 1:30 to avoid the largest crowd press. Order the lobster balls on the weekend. Half price weekdays but the selection is limited to the essentials.
JS Chen: From the Chen amily which moved to the US from southern China in the 80’s, the dim sum is broad and delicious. Chen also serves dim sum all day. The service is especially precarious but some of the dishes make up for what the human intervention lacks. Despite past service gaffs, lunch is a quick in and out. Especially good are the dumplings and curried cuttlefish. Also look for a fine example of Peking duck.