Seven recommended dim sum dishes

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Photo: Wade Vandervort

Har gow

Is there a more delicate dish than the pleated steamed dumpling filled with shrimp? The wrapper is translucent yet strong enough to hold the contents when picked up with chopsticks. The pleats, which can number seven to 10 or more, require an artistry that takes time to master. Har gow is considered to be one of the most challenging dumplings to execute, and the one that best tests a dim sum chef’s mettle. (Pictured from Tim Ho Wan)


A dim sum house can be judged by the quality of its shumai, the little mounds of pork, shrimp and other ingredients wrapped in a thin sheet of water dough. Shumai, which lends itself to endless variations, is ubiquitous in most Asian countries as street food, but in the West, it’s the cornerstone of a dim sum meal, the one item you absolutely shouldn’t miss. (Pictured from Ping Pang Pong)

Cha siu bao

These steamed buns filled with barbecue pork are perhaps the most familiar dim sum item to Westerners. Variations have appeared in recent years in which the bao (bun) is used like a small pita for fillings, but the traditional Cantonese version is a round mound that comes either steamed or baked. It’s a filling treat that you should reserve for halfway or near the end of your meal. (Pictured from Tim Ho Wan)

Pan-fried turnip cake

Turnip cakes, despite their name, are usually made with shredded radishes. They’re mixed with rice flour, cut into rectangular slices and pan-fried. The texture is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Turnip cakes are usually eaten on Chinese New Year, since they symbolize good fortune. (Pictured from Tim Ho Wan)

Chicken feet

Though chicken feet might not be a staple in the American diet, it’s commonly found in Asian dishes. When the hard layer of skin is removed, the edible tissue consists of tendons, and cooked properly, it’s a flavorful and texture-rich snack. For the uninitiated, dim sum is the perfect way to get your feet wet discovering the wonders of this gelatinous delicacy. (Pictured from Ping Pang Pong)

Xiao long bao

To eat these Shanghainese soup dumplings, a little technique is necessary, along with simultaneous dexterity with a soup spoon and chopsticks. But in all reality, you’ll be eating these so fast, the path from steamer basket to mouth is almost irrelevant. Also, the Chinese believe that dumplings bring luck (as they’re shaped like gold ingots), so the more you eat, the better. (Pictured from Mott 32)

Jian Dui

Most American meals end with a toothachingly sweet final course. Dim sum is usually closed out with more subtle palate pleasers like jian dui, fried sesame balls made from glutinouse rice flour and filled with mildly sweet red bean paste. The crisp and chewy dessert is said to be a fortuitous treat: As the dough is fried, it expands, and so will your fortunes when you eat these. (Pictured from Chang’s)

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Genevie Durano

As deputy editor at Las Vegas Weekly, Genevie Durano covers the Valley’s dining scene. Previously she lived in New York ...

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