The dim sum craze has risen to a fever pitch over the past few years with many Metro Vancouverites regularly scouring the region for tasty dim sum, particularly for breakfast or brunch.
“Dim sum for breakfast or brunch is part of a typical Chinese lifestyle,” says Howie Zhang, owner of the acclaimed Grand River Seafood Restaurant in Coquitlam. “It’s light and you get a variety of dishes to choose from.”
Opening this past spring, Grand River Seafood Restaurant specializes in dim sum, a style of Chinese Canton cuisine prepared in small bite-sized portions and served in steamer baskets, and in deliciously prepared seafood.
The dim sum tradition began in Cantonese-speaking southern China, Howie explains. It’s linked to yum cha, meaning “drink tea” in Cantonese, where teahouses were set up along the Silk Road for travellers needing a place to rest. Over the centuries the tradition transformed from a calm refuge to the happy, busy restaurants people experience today.
So, what should you look for when choosing a spot?
Due to its roots, tea is an important component of dim sum and a good spot will offer a variety of teas to choose from, including green, oolong, jasmine, and chrysanthemum. If you’re going for breakfast or brunch, be sure to order tea instead of coffee.
Dish staples should also be on the menu, such as steamed stuffed buns and dumplings. Other popular dishes also include congee, a sticky, rice porridge, and sou, a flaky pastry. Flavours should rely on the freshness of the ingredients rather than heavy spices.
“Dim sum is all about variety and sharing,” says Howie, who advises that customers should order a wide array of dishes to enhance the experience.
“But make sure you know who your server is,” he adds, laughing. “And only order from your server when you’re ready for more dishes!”