Dim sum is a type of Chinese food that consists of lots of finger foods, dumplings, turnovers, buns, and anything else traditionally served in a Chinese tea house. However, Dim sum is considered a delicacy in the Chinese culture, and it is something you only eat during breakfast hours. Dim sum can be steamed, deep-fried, pan-fried, roasted— you name it, they've got it and with enough types of meat and seafood to whet any omnivores palate. The majority of items contain shellfish and pork, so this style of eating is not all that fun for vegetarians, Jews, and Muslims who follow strict dietary laws.
In any dim sum place worth their salt, servers will come around every few minutes with rolling carts of freshly made food, or sometimes they'll make you choose the dishes from a piece of paper that would require you to "check" the boxes of your choice. Note: the English translations aren't very trust worthy, always ask what it is MADE of first. They'll give you anything you point to, and will charge you by stamping the bill you're given when you enter the restaurant. Whether they speak English or not is a real gamble, so be adventurous in your selections and don't be afraid to say "no" if there's something you don't want, or just ignore them as most Chinese do. They occasionally carry scissors, so ask them to cut up foods that seem too big for chopsticks or a fork. Or just stab it and take a bite. Remember, dim sum isn't sushi; it's okay to not stuff the whole thing in your mouth. In fact, it's probably not a good idea to stick the whole dumpling in your mouth. Also, a lot of the intended flavors could be masked by soy or hot sauce, so don't automatically douse your food.
Dim sum is best eaten family style, i.e. the food is ordered for the table rather than an individual person. Your best experiences will be when you go with a large group of people. That way, the costs are distributed and you can sample more varieties of food. This strategy is especially important for adventurous people or newbies, who might get a dish that no one likes.
While there isn't a more traditional dim sum house in Davis, you can still try it out!
- Shanghai Town has some dim sum every day, and over 50 items on Saturday and Sunday! Their Dim Sum menu (photo coming soon) has some 32 Shanghai style items, and the items offered vary throughout the year. Even their normal menu offers some interesting dishes not served at any other restaurants in Davis, such as 'sliced jellyfish.' It won't be served or ordered in the normal styles, but the dishes offered should still be fine.
- Ding How in Davis serves a "dim sum platter." It consists of a BBQ pork bun, two shui-mai, spring roll halves, potstickers, and fried wontons for $6.95. (This isn't really that much like what most people think of dim sum though.)
- Hometown Chinese Food
While Davis regretfully does not have much in the way of a dim sum house, but there are plenty in the Bay Area, and a few in the Sacramento area that serve dim sum:
- Asian Pearl 2009, 6821 Stockton Blvd - Same owners as New Canton
- Happy Garden, 5731 Stockton Blvd (South of Fruitridge) - Massive room, lots of carts, card stamping, etc. And a mirrored ceiling, just because.
- Holiday Villa, 7007 South Land Park (near Florin Rd)
- King's, 1500 West Capitol (off of the Jefferson exit) in West Sacramento
- King Palace, 5829 Stockton Blvd
- New Canton, 2523 Broadway
- Rice Bowl, 2378 Florin Road
- Every day, SF Market sells a limited amount of dim sum at their take-out counter. In their frozen food section, they have dozens of varieties, including steamed buns, dumplings to be boiled/steamed/fried potstickers, spring rolls, turnip cakes (unsliced), as well as dessert varieties.
- Fat's Asia Bistro locations in both Roseville and Folsom carry a decent selection of Dim Sum.
These restaurants offer dim sum around the hours of 10 am-3 pm daily, although it is said that some places have a better selection of dishes on the weekends when it's busier.