It’s chaos on a Sunday morning. Groups of families line up in front of doorways and out on the sidewalk waiting to be seated, while the hostess screams a new table number into the loud crowd. Tables are closely placed, forming narrow walkways for waitresses to push carts full of different dishes through. The waitresses call out dish names above the chattering of friends and relatives for people to pick out. The close proximity of neighboring tables’ chairs creates a maze, making it hard just to get to the bathroom.
This is a typical scene from a Cantonese brunch, called dim sum (点心) or yum cha (饮茶). A variety of small bite-sized portions of food are served in small steamer baskets with tea. Because of the small portions, families can order many different kinds of dishes, ranging from steamed buns, to rice noodle rolls, to dumplings, to sticky rice. As part of a Cantonese family living in San Francisco, I’ve frequented dim sum houses many a time in my life. Here are two of my favorite dishes to get: